Enlightenment is the complete awareness of life without any mental modifications.
It is perfect light, light that has always existed, exists now and will always exist. It's the light that exists beyond darkness. It's the core and the center of all things, and it's in all things and beyond all things.
Enlightenment is a state of consciousness, I suppose. It's a way of talking about it. It's something that we attain - if we attain things.
There's a mountain. I'd like to climb to the top of it. There's something very beautiful, very wonderful on top of it - so I hope. So I climb up the mountain and when I reach the top, I have a view. If there's something wonderful there, I've found it - if that's what attainment is. The mountain of enlightenment, of course, is inside of us. It's inside of our mind. And we're climbing that mountain every day. Our life is that mountain.
Enlightenment is not just a little burst of light. It means that your mind has become one with the universe, with all things.
The mountain is complicated. It has a lot of sides, a lot of paths. We can traverse them. We can go up the mountain, down the mountain, around the mountain forever and never reach the top. The top is enlightenment - the complete awareness of life without any mental modifications, the highest viewpoint. Not the best, but the highest unobstructed view. And if that's your interest, if you seek enlightenment, then the practice of meditation is the pathway to enlightenment, along with the practice of mindfulness. These are the two things that we do in Buddhism to become enlightened.
Enlightenment exists in everything. Enlightenment is every-thing. It's around everything, it's through everything and it's beyond everything. It sounds more complicated than it is, actually. If you want to experience enlightenment in a simple way, all you have to do is stop your thoughts. When there is no thought in the mind, no thought of no thought, when the mind is quiet and it rests but is fully alert, we experience a little bit of enlightenment. A little light will filter in.
Our thoughts, our desires, emotions, angers, fears, loves, hates - these are clouds that come between us and the light of the sun. When those things stop, when thought goes away, and fear and anxiety, alienation, depression, even hope - even hope - when these things clear away, there's light, perfect light, an all-encompassing light. That's a word that I use for it. I don't know of a better word in English. Maybe we could say an ecstatic light, a light that is encompassing of all things - God, knowledge, purity, truth. But light is good enough for me. I think it suffices.
Enlightenment exists within you. And as I said, there's this mountain that we're climbing every day. How's your climb going? It's uphill. If you're going towards enlightenment, and if it seems like it's very easy and it's downhill, then you're probably going towards enlightenment too.
Awareness is infinite. And I want you to understand that enlightenment is not something that is attained or reached by a select few. I mean, obviously it is attained or reached by a select few, in that very few people seem to attain it or reach it. But that's not because it's incredibly hard. It's just not incredibly popular.
What's so hard about being happy? What's so hard about giving up fear, giving up hate, giving up anxiety? It would seem to me that these are very sensible things to do - to be happy forever, to see beyond this cosmic dream that we call life and see other dreams of the cosmos, dimensions of mind, of time, space and things beyond that.
To go to the very center of the mind of God, to be that, to become aware of our infiniteness, is the goal of Buddhism - one of the goals. Along the way, to be as kind to others as possible without thinking that we're particularly wonderful because we are, perhaps, kind. To transcend our identity, in other words, to go beyond ego, to become conscious of life in constantly new ways, as is life conscious of itself in constantly new ways.