by Erika Marie about a year ago in spirituality

What exactly is enlightenment? This is what it is to me.


Sometimes, I wonder what the meaning of life is. I believe most people do so in their life. I personally think enlightenment has something to do with the meaning of life. The religious concept of enlightenment is quite grandiose—knowing the ultimate meaning of life, being "one" with the universe, etc. The religious concept of enlightenment seems to mean that enlightenment is an absolute. For me, at my stage in life, however, the idea of enlightenment is more like a process or a direction. Of course, enlightenment is a goal, but I can't imagine actually reaching the goal. I can only imagine the general direction I would go in. I perceive the process of enlightenment to be something that would help me figure out the meaning of life. By "meaning of life," I do not mean an ultimate and all-mighty knowing of life. Rather, I just mean the meaning/purpose of my life. I think through the process of enlightenment, I could achieve a sense of accomplishment, direction, and meaning.

Enlightenment is a religious or spiritual term that has been loosely translated from many languages. Literally, however, it means "the action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened," or in other words, "to be in the light" (I think light, in this case, would mean truth, so, this would equal "to know the truth"). Not everyone wants to know the truth. "Ignorance is bliss," many people say. What if I find that my entire life has been a lie? What if there's no point in doing anything? However, there is always that one thing with feathers that perches in the soul—the thing that sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. Why do I want enlightenment? There is your answer. Hope. I want to take a leap of faith with hope that there's something more, hope that everything will be worth it, hope that once I'm enlightened and find the meaning of my life, I will feel accomplished, content, and maybe even happy. My road to enlightenment will allow me to feel exactly that. However, a feeling of accomplishment, contentedness, and happiness—you may wonder: are they really that important? I would reply: "Aren't they everything, though?" What is life without pride? What is life without joy? All this is why I want to start my journey to enlightenment.

What is the point of life? What is life? My ideas are not as sophisticated and developed as Buddhist beliefs, but there are a lot of things I agree with in relation to life and living. For example, the Four Noble Truths are really true for me. Life is filled with suffering and sorrow, and that suffering is caused by desires. I'm not sure about getting rid of all desires, but the fourth truth of taking the Eightfold Path makes a lot of sense to me. The Right Views, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration are indeed important, and I think that if this path were followed, life would be much better, and the meaning of my life would be revealed. I'm a curious person, and life puzzles me constantly. I don't want my life to just drag on and spend my life in the dark, metaphorically speaking. I would like to be enlightened as to what the meaning of my life is. Therefore, I think these Buddhist ideas could really help me on my path to enlightenment.

Right now, I work hard in high school, and I'm not particularly happy. I'll graduate from high school just to go to yet another school (university) where a lot of money must be paid for me to just be overwhelmed with schoolwork again. Then, I'll graduate, get a job, and probably continue to feel like something is missing. What is the point in all of that, honestly? I want to do something with my life, but when these flying objects (school, schoolwork, jobs, and other obstacles) are thrown at me, I'm spending all my time dodging them and throwing them back instead of doing what I want (and actually need) to do. What's the point? Where's the joy? Where's the sense of accomplishment? It's never-ending. Of course, I have things that can make me happy like music, reading, writing, or even just TV, but when I'm constantly agitated due to school, panicked over my social life, and distressed over everything else that I feel is wrong in my life, it's hard to like my life. Obsessing over things that I can't control will not get me any closer to finding the meaning in my life. In fact, I'm sure it only sets me back since I won't even manage to do the things that I have to do (studying, for instance). I need to let go and change my mindset to see the positive things and just let everything roll along as it should without trying to change it in vain.

This doesn't answer how I'm actually going to get onto the path to my enlightenment, which is the most important part. I am going to start my process to my enlightenment by taking a similar approach to what Buddhist monks take. I will let go and let everything run its course. I can't frustrate myself trying to control things that cannot be controlled. Some ways that could help me "let go" would include being healthy (eating right, exercising, etc.), meditation, and just trying to maintain an awareness (try to remind myself to let go and not let things bother me). I'm going to let go, change my own mindset, and then begin on my road to enlightenment.

My enlightenment is a process that would essentially allow me to figure out what the meaning of my life is. This would let me achieve a sense of accomplishment, contentedness, and happiness. Not everyone wants to know the truth, but I want to know the truth because I have hope for something better—something more. I have to find the meaning of my life myself by letting go. I will simply change my mindset/attitude and let things run their course.

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Erika Marie

I've loved writing ever since I was a small child. I write fiction and more recently, non-fiction. I want to create change through my writing. If I can positively affect even one person, that would be incredible. 

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