What is Enlightenment?
Let’s stick close to the basic meaning of the word. That is, something is in the dark and then some light is shone on it and thus what could not be seen before is now seen.
In my concept of Enlightenment what was hidden and becomes visible is our True Nature. The Self becomes Known.
Basically, we thought all along that we were Felipe or John or Mary, but it turns out that is not entirely correct. The package of our names, personality, body, and even soul, is a fraction of what We Truly Are. Figuratively speaking, What We Are was hidden and when the Light shines it becomes visible. So, Enlightenment is the event of Knowing the Self.
Now, there is a peculiarity to such an event or state of affairs. There is no subject observing that which was hidden and that now is visible. Enlightenment is not a subject-object experience and that is what makes this event unique, untransferable and unprovable. Therefore the mind can never grasp what this type of Enlightenment really is. It is futile to try.
Neither was the Self really hidden. It was a particular state of mind that produced the impression of it being hidden. For some people, the moment of Enlightenment ruptures that state of mind and it marks the beginning of the end of their path. For other people, it completely obliterates that state of mind and puts an end to the path on the spot.
Buddha refers to Enlightening as the end of suffering. How does that relate to what you are saying?
Self Knowledge heralds the end of psychological suffering for the simple reason that there is no vulnerable self. That is the basic imagination that is obliterated by such Light. If there is no vulnerable self there is no harm. If there is no harm there is no fear. If there is no fear all is well and there is nothing wrong.
The state of ignorance of Self produces unwarranted fear. Psychological fear, as opposed to actual fear of threat, is unnecessary suffering. It is unnecessary because there is fear for the integrity of an entity that does not exist. The vulnerability of the ego is imagined. But if there is involvement with the ego and a sense of self attached to the ego then there is fear for its integrity and suffering arises accordingly.
Enlightenment is like awakening then...
It is the same analogy. In sleep we cannot see things clearly. When we open our eyes we can.
But the problem with these terms is that the seeker inevitable tends to grab the word “I” and make a sentence out of it. A sentence that must be a lie no matter how it is phrased.
I woke up, I got enlightened, I am awake, I remembered the self, I am enlightened, I realized the self, I am self realized, are all lies. Just as their negations are lies. The Self never awakens. The Self never sleeps. States of mind change. What We Are We Are.
We can say I am thin, I am fat, I am rich or poor, I am young or old, I am in pain, I am happy, I know or do not know, because those states all refer to our personalities and bodies and their memories, or even higher centers.
But “I am enlightened” is not possible because what is being pointed at is not a passing state or a state that the personality, body or the soul obtains, achieves or experiences.
The Event of Enlightenment, Awakening or Spiritual Realization, in my definition, obliterates the state of mind of separation between I and anything else, in Essence. Therefore, there is no more compulsion to ascribe any quality to Self. And there is nothing that can be experienced that is not already Self or Consciousness (with capital C).
Consciousness is the Underlying Reality at all times. Beyond the ten thousand things we can perceive and experience, beyond the sense of being, or “I Am”, is our ever present, immovable, irrevocable, invulnerable Essential Nature that is the source of every thing. It is not a special state, it is the Natural State. It is too simple. The mind cannot grasp that much Simplicity; it is not meant to. The mind is a playground of multiplicity.