Thread: "Awakening" and "Enlightenment"

  1. #1

    "Awakening" and "Enlightenment"

    Dear friends,

    1. Is Buddhist "awakening" the same as Buddhist "enlightenment?" ....or do they describe something different to each other?

    2. Are the meanings the same in all Buddhist traditions?

    Please share your thoughts about this.


  2. #2
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    It's a matter of definitions, isn't it? In The Lions Roar article 'What is Enlightenment?', there is this: "The poet Anna Akhmatova spoke of the wave that rises in us to meet the great wave of fate coming toward us. Perhaps enlightenment is that which comes toward us, a previously unimaginable grace, while awakening is that which arises inside us, to prepare for and meet the grace. In that moment of meeting, we know the two waves as rising from the same ocean."

    Enlightenment as a natural state of the mind, which we have lost as human beings, probably as part of a socialisation process which is cultural-dependent, and awakening as the process whereby we can get to that state. So we can have gradual awakening, or sudden awakening, but the moment of enlightenment is just that; a, somewhat timeless, moment. We can therefore talk about Buddhist enlightenment within a context of the Buddhist awakening process. In a Christian context we could talk about St Paul and the road to Damascus, which happened in a different cultural context with different results.

    Anyone can go through the enlightenment experience, but without some idea of what it is all about, the consequences are very different. It's the same within Buddhism. Unless the cultural background is the same, the outcome will be interpreted differently. And even then I suspect that each individual deals with the experience in their own individual way.

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