The idea of enlightenment is as old as mankind’s search for a greater truth behind life. Although the term enlightenment originated in ancient eastern religions, it has almost taken on a life of it’s own in modern spirituality. You may ask yourself ‘what is enlightenment?’ and like most before you, your answer will fall well short of fully encapsulating the totality of it’s meaning. I don’t believe that there are any definitive definitions or explanations for what enlightenment is. But, I do believe that there are many great insights from this profound idea that can help us to better understand that invisible spiritual dimension of life.
The beginning of the 18th century was the start of an era better known as the Age Of Enlightenment – a period of time in history that is characterized by a global shift in thinking. Essentially, The Age Of Enlightenment took mankind out of the ‘dark ages’ where the state and the church had a monopoly on ‘knowledge’ and they controlled what people were allowed to believe.
Along with many great scientific discoveries (of which Newton’s laws were one of the most significant) a new intellectual awareness compelled ‘ordinary’ people to start thinking and exploring life for themselves. It’s as if people’s mind were opened to a whole new world. They started to turn their attention inwards instead of looking to the church to tell them what to think and believe. This global shift in thinking was the birth of our modern world; a world were we can explore life for ourselves and learn to command our own thoughts and direct our own consciousness.
What took mankind out of the dark ages and into ‘the light’ was knowledge and learning to look past dogma and convention. Hence the name The Age Of Enlightenment because it refers to the idea of casting a light unto what was previously dark.Have you ever tried finding your way in a dark room? You feel hopeless, uncertain and lost. This is how many people feel in their everyday lives – as if they are living in a spiritual darkness. In this sense the idea of enlightenment can be a great insight for you. Enlightenment is nothing but turning on your own inner light to help you ‘see’. This seeing is not sight as we’ve all come to know it but rather an inner sight (or an insight) that goes beyond that of ordinary everyday perception.
Many people think of enlightenment as a ‘goal’ – as a state of awareness to reach by following certain spiritual practices and when they eventually reach this goal their entire life will be blissful and without any problems. The truth is that this is impossible, for the very nature of our consciousness is for it to expand and enlightenment is about the unfolding of your spirit by expanding your awareness.
This inner light that helps us to perceive things in greater truth will not change our outer world as much as it will change our inner world. It’s an inner realization that will help you to change the filter through which you perceive and experience everything in life. Enlightenment is not an attainment, but a realization. Once you reach this realization nothing will change, yet everything will change. You will find that even though the world hasn’t change it appears as if it has because you see it anew.
We all spend much of our lives working towards the attainment of an ideal state of mind; a state of mind where we are happy, where we feel peaceful and where we feel that our lives are meaningful. Many think of enlightenment as this ‘ideal’ state of mind. But, life is never fixed in time and enlightenment is about allowing your spirit to grow into this life by expanding your awareness of who you really are. Enlightenment is that inner light that gets switched on through inner wisdom. It allows you to see past the illusion of your sensory experiences of life and to see in ever greater clarity that divine part of who you really are.