What is Enlightenment ?


To be clear and concrete:  Enlightenment is always to something.

In science, for example, Newton was enlightened to the laws of kinetics, gravity etc, and Einstein was enlightened to the truth of relativity. The Buddha was enlightened to the universal truth: the power that moves the world, life and death and all phenomena.

Another synonym for enlightenment is “Awakening”.  It is awakening to the ‘way life works’ in all forms of actions and reactions.  This makes us capable of full understanding of what is taking place in our life.

Obviously, scientific awakening (to natural truths and laws) brings practical benefit. Similarly, enlightenment to the universal truth of life brings benefit. A spiritual, intellectual or mental awakening would lead to betterment of the individual’s life to the highest state possible. The benefit of enlightenment manifests itself in daily life - basically in overcoming hardships and sufferings and in bringing harmony, prosperity, wise solutions, compassionate relationships and strong life-energy. One would then necessarily experience joy of living and valuable encounters.


What is Ignorance ?

The opposite of Enlightenment is Ignorance. Ignorance of the truth (of how life operates) would necessarily manifest itself in reality in form of disharmony, conflicts, sufferings, egoism, discrimination, inferiority… and the like.

In Nichiren Buddhism, awakening to the truth (of how one’s personal life operates) is a necessary condition to transform suffering and experience happiness:

            “If you wish to free yourself from [all] sufferings …

            and attain unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime,

           you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings.

          This truth is [the power of the natural Law of Life (the Law of Cause and Effect)].   

                                                                                    On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime

Undeniably, if one is fully aware of the consequences of own intentions and actions, and is aware of the essence of what is going around, then one’s decisions and relationships would avoid any foolish mistake (that would lead to bad consequences, defeat, hurt, conflicts and sufferings).

An enlightened person would always choose the correct causes that would lead to beneficial effects - for self&others.  On the contrary, an ignorant person would express own mind of ignorance through speech and behaviour.  It is behaviour in the reality of daily life that reflects one’s level of mind and lifeforce.

This means that Enlightenment is expressed in the quality of one’s behaviour in this reality.


The Dharma

(The Power of the Law)

If we observe reality, we acknowledge that it is not random - but that there are patterns, principles and laws in nature and in our life.  The energy of life manifests its power in the bond ,which links actions (of causes and conditions) to the effects displayed in reality.  Everything - physical or mental - emerges in reality because of causes, conducive conditions all leading to experienced effects.

The power of the Law of Cause and Effect operates on all domains, whether in natural phenomena or also in the way living beings behave.  Living beings are continuously making causes, which would attract consequences. This means that enlightenment to this truth (of what current causes would create events of future consequences) - is a wonderful awakening to the way how life operates.

In his final teachings (of the Lotus Sutra), the Buddha taught the Dharma or the “Law of Reality”, which is the order that operates all phenomena we witness between life and death, both physically and mentally.   The Lotus Sutra encodes this Law as:

MyohoRengeKyo:  The Universal Law of Cause and Effect.

Attaining Enlightenment according to Nichiren Buddhism

According to Nichiren, the life state of experiencing enlightenment emerges when there is harmony and fusion between one’s individual life with the Law of reality. It is when the microcosm (individual) is one with the macrocosm (the power of the Universe).

Enlightenment then is the awakening of the individual to the nature of life, which is: MyohoRengeKyo, operating also within the innumerable function in our body and mind.  In order to be awakened to this truth, Nichiren (1222–1282) indicated that one has to wholeheartedly dedicate and fuse own way of thinking to be in harmony with this objective truth of life of the universe.

To be “in harmony with” and “fuse oneself to” - is expressed by the Sanskrit word NAM. Therefore, the phrase

Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo

expresses the field of awakening of the individual (microcosm) to the objective truth (macrocosm).

NamMyohoRengeKyo  is the Vibrant Energy of Enlightenment

Chanting this phrase will trigger the subconscious mind of inner enlightenment, called also the Buddhanature. The Buddhanature is the field of the highest wisdom, compassion and life-energy.

To the extent of one’s dedication to manifest wisdom and compassion - the depth of this state of enlightenment is expressed. It is basically how to “create value” in one’s and others life - in meaningful and joyful engagements.

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Author: Safwan Darshams

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