Enlightenment (quotes)


What is enlightenment?


Enlightenment is awakening to who you really are

  • Enlightenment means waking up to what you truly are and then being that. Adyashanti
  • Enlightenment is knowing what I really am. And what I am not. I awaken to my true nature. Adyashanti
  • Enlightenment is a full, permanent recognition of what one truly is, free of all false positions, speculations and other mental encumbrances. At the end of a hard day trading, it is enlightenment that is the only thing worth taking home from the spiritual marketplace. Oshana Dave
  • OnenessAwakeningSpirituality,   TranscendenceFreedomAwaken to who you really are

Enlightenment is a letting go of your illusions…

  • Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretence. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true. Adyashanti
  • Enlightenment is construed as seeing things as they really are rather than as they appear; it is a direct insight into, and discernment of, the nature of reality that is apprehended only by wisdom, which transcends and is prior to the activity of discriminative thought. In this view, delusion is defined as all that is opposed to enlightenment. Hee-Jin Kim
  • Letting goIllusion

… especially the illusion that you are a separate self

  • Enlightenment is the direct result of freedom from the illusion of a separate self. A profound understanding of this ultimate simplicity provides all that is required for an awakening to enlightenment. Gary Crowley
  • Total annihilation is a prerequisite for enlightenment. You can’t be one without the other. Steven Norquist
  • Enlightenment is the direct, abiding realization that YOU don’t exist. Anything else, ain’t it. Adyashanti
  • Disillusionment with yourself must precede Enlightenment. Vernon Howard
  • To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.  To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.  Zen Master Dogen
  • The attainment of enlightenment from ego’s point of view is extreme death, the death of self, the death of me and mine, the death of the watcher. It is the ultimate and final disappointment. Chogyam Trungpa
  • One of the core meanings of enlightenment is liberation from false and spurious value attachments that blind you to your true essence. When and if I learn that I am ultimately my mind and my manner of using it; when and if I understand that ego is only the internal experience of consciousness, the ultimate center of awareness, I am free.   Nathaniel Branden
  • The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self. Albert Einstein
  • Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment. Chögyam Trungpa
  • Oneness

Enlightenment is not an attainment but a realisation…

  • Enlightenment is not an attainment; it is a realization. And when you wake up, everything changes and nothing changes. If a blind man realizes that he can see, has the world changed? Dan Millman
  • Enlightenment is permanent because we have not produced it. We have merely discovered it. Chogyam Trungpa
  • Enlightenment is finding that there is nothing to find. Enlightenment is to come to know that there is nowhere to go. Enlightenment is the understanding that this is all, that this is perfect, that this is it. Enlightenment is not an achievement, it is an understanding that there is nothing to achieve, nowhere to go. You are already there – you have never been away. You cannot be away from there. God has never been missed. Maybe you have forgotten, that’s all. Maybe you have fallen asleep, that’s all. Osho

…the deep realisation that you are one with all

  • There can never be an “enlightened person,” there is only the realization that there is no separation. Halina Pytlasinka
  • Enlightenment is your realisation of your oneness with the Universal One Life. Eckhart Tolle
  • Those who think that any action can lead to their “enlightenment” are turning their backs on the truth: they are thinking that there is a “he” or a “she” there to be “enlightened,” whereas “enlightenment” is a name for the state wherein there is no separate individual at all, and which is that of all sentient beings, a name for what they are, but which cannot be recognized by anyone who believes him or herself to be an autonomous individual.  Wei Wu Wei (Terence Gray)
  • Meditation is not a way to enlightenment, nor is it a method of achieving anything at all. It is peace itself.  It is the actualization of wisdom, the ultimate truth of the oneness of all things.  Dogen
  • Oneness

Enlightenment is a natural state of being where you are free of thought

  • The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being. Eckhart Tolle
  • Enlightenment is, in the end, nothing more than the natural state of being. Adyashanti
  • Enlightenment is the natural state of consciousness, the innocent state of consciousness, that state which is uncontaminated by the movement of thought, uncontaminated by control or manipulation of mind. Adyashanti
  • Being can be felt, but can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of “feeling- realization” is enlightenment. Eckhart Tolle
  • Become present in the Now
  • Being

Enlightenment is being where you are and letting it be as it is

  • Enlightenment does not consist of pretending to be where we are not; enlightenment means being in touch with where we are and being willing to learn what God would have us learn from it. Sometimes the purpose of a day is to merely feel our sadness, knowing that as we do we allow whole layers of grief, like old skin cells, to drop off us. Marianne Williamson
  • Acceptance

Enlightenment is already here; just obscured


Enlightenment cannot be approached as a goal to pursue…

  • Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray. Sen Sen Ming
  • Enlightenment is not something you achieve. It is the absence of something. All your life you have been going forward after something, pursuing some goal. Enlightenment is dropping all that. Charlotte J. Beck
  • God is your very being. So the first thing is, don’t think about enlightenment as a goal. Osho

…for it is in you in this moment and cannot be sought in the future

  • Enlightenment cannot be attained if it is sought as a future goal. Give up the search.  The entry point is now, not in the future.  The ego can only be transcended in the now.  In the depth of you, your essence is already complete.  You are already it.  You just need to realise it.  Eckhart Tolle
  • There is nothing to seek and nothing to find. You’re already enlightened, and all the words in the world won’t give you what you already have. The wise seeker, therefore, is concerned with one thing only: to become aware of what he already is, of the True Self within. Zen maxim
  • Behind most spiritual practices is the belief that you have to get someplace you’re not – a destination called realization or enlightenment. But realization isn’t someplace else; it’s the naturally occurring human state. It doesn’t belong to anybody. It’s who we all are. Suzanne Segal
  • Spiritual seekers look for self-realization or enlightenment in the future. To be a seeker implies that you need the future. If this is what you believe, it becomes true for you: you will need time until you realize that you don’t need time to be who you are. Eckhart Tolle
  • We meditate not to attain enlightenment, because enlightenment is already in us. We don’t need to search anywhere. We don’t need to practice to obtain some high position. We can enjoy every moment. People talk about entering nirvana, but we are already there. Aimlessness and nirvana are one. We have everything we need to make the present moment the happiest in our life. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Even my desire to become free or enlightened is just another craving for fulfilment or completion in the future. So don’t seek to become free of desire or “achieve”enlightenment. Become present. Eckhart Tolle
  • Enlightenment is the understanding that this is all, that this is perfect, that this is it. Enlightenment is not an achievement, it is an understanding that there is nothing to achieve, nowhere to go. Osho
  • The very desire to seek spiritual enlightenment is in fact nothing but the grasping tendency of the ego itself, and thus the very search for enlightenment prevents it. The ‘perfect practice’ is therefore not to search for enlightenment but to inquire into the motive for seeking itself. You obviously seek in order to avoid the present, and yet the present alone holds the answer: to seek forever is to miss the point forever. You always already are enlightened Spirit, and therefore to seek Spirit is simply to deny Spirit. Ken Wilber
  • Liberation and enlightenment do not exist outside of your own self. We need only open our eyes to see that we ourselves are the very essence of liberation and enlightenment.  All dharmas, all beings, contain the nature of full enlightenment within themselves.  Don’t look for it outside yourself. If you shine the light of awareness on your own self, you will realize enlightenment immediately.  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Trying to find a buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Bodhidharma
  • It’s funny that we think the mind is going to help us figure out how to become happier or enlightened, when the opposite is true. We’re so busy listening to it that we miss what’s here in the moment, which is the only place where life can be experienced. And the mind is so clever at convincing us that the moment is not ‘where it’s at’ but in some fantasy or idea. It is so ironic. What a funny Mystery this is! Nirmala
  • If I say, if I talk about, “I want to be enlightened…” it implies a future. And there isn’t any. Byron Katie

Present moment awareness


Enlightenment is being intimate with the present moment…

  • Enlightenment is understanding that there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nobody you have to be except exactly who you’re being right now. Neale Donald Walsch
  • To be enlightened is to be unconditionally intimate with this moment. Scott Morrison
  • A student once asked his teacher: “Master, what is enlightenment?” The master replied:  “When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.”  Zen Story
  • As Zen master Dogen writes, ‘To be enlightened is to be intimate with all of life. Unmani Liza Hyde
  • In the early thirteenth century Eihei Dogen, the founder of Soto Zen, said that enlightenment is just intimacy with all things. Jakusho Kwong Roshi
  • The only time and place to find enlightenment is in this moment. No need to check your watch. The time is now. Philip T. Sudo
  • Live in the momentPresence

… fully accepting what is…


… and being fully aware

  • Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive–that you can touch the miracle of being alive– then that is a kind of enlightenment. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Become aware you’re aware. There is no separate entity that is aware.  The All is aware.  Adyashanti
  • Awareness

There are no enlightened beings – only enlightened moments

  • There are no enlightened beings—only more or less enlightened moments. Dan Millman
  • Enlightenment is not something like a college degree, that once you achieve it is yours forevermore; it either is or it isn’t in the moment, depending upon what you’re doing with your vibration. Abraham-Hicks

Opening the heart


Enlightenment is the journey from the head to the heart

  • There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take the one with a heart. Lao Tzu
  • Enlightenment is the journey back from the head to the heart. Ravi Shankar
  • Enlightenment is the Journey from the head back to the heart, from words back to silence. Jock Brocas
  • The heart

Enlightenment is the practicing of love

  • Nirvana or lasting enlightenment or true spiritual growth can be achieved only through persistent exercise of real love. M. Scott Peck
  • The ultimate purpose of Zen,’ I remembered the roshi telling me, ‘is not in the going away from the world but in the coming back. Zen is not just a matter of gaining enlightenment; it’s a matter of acting in a world of love and compassion. Pico Lyer
  • Love

Ways to reach enlightenment


Enlightenment comes from being part of the world, not removing yourself from it …

  • It isn’t by getting out of the world that we become enlightened, but by getting into the world…by getting so tuned in that we can ride the waves of our existence and never get tossed because we become the waves. Ken Kesey
  • Zen approaches it from the practical side of life-that is, to work out Enlightenment in life itself. T. Suzuki
  • Many spiritual teachers – in Buddhism, in Islam – have talked about first-hand experience of the world as an important part of the path to wisdom, to enlightenment. Bell Hooks
  • If we remove ourselves from the world, we are pretending that we can follow our own individual enlightenment and let the rest of the world go to hell, so to speak. Satish Kumar
  • Working with plants, trees, fences and walls, if they practice sincerely they will attain enlightenment. Dogen Zenji

… for there is no true enlightenment outside of ordinary life

  • Before enlightenment – chopping wood, carrying water. After enlightenment – chopping wood, carrying water. Zen proverb
  • There is no enlightenment outside of daily life. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Even after enlightenment, you still have to do the laundry. A Zen Master

Enlightenment comes from being a light unto yourself

  • There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Carl Jung
  • Knowing others is Wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment. Lao Tzu
  • Enlightenment is becoming a light unto yourself. Brandon Trean
  • The real meaning of enlightenment is to gaze with undimmed eyes on all darkness. Nikos Kazantzakis
  • It’s in the entrails of the earth, not on its surface, that you can find diamonds and gold. It’s in going into the darkness that we find enlightenment.  Robert Scaer
  • Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light, but making the darkness conscious. Carl Jung
  • Light

Enlightenment comes from emptying the mind of concepts and thought…

  • Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky, the great ocean, and the highest peak, empty of all thoughts. Always keep your body filled with light and heat. Fill yourself with the power of wisdom and enlightenment. Morihei Ueshiba
  • Enlightenment is nothing but disengaging from the mind. The silence is the sound of this disengagement! Kiara Windrider
  • The rise of silence in the nervous system is the first stage of the enlightenment process. Yogani
  • Every concept leads to a new thought. Each new thought creates more seeking. The Minimalist Enlightenment Path avoids creating concepts but directs the seeker of self-realisation directly towards the goal: the Self, the origin of Self- Consciousness. Oshana Dave

… through the practice of meditation

  • Zen asserts that the universal nature of inherent wisdom is nothing other than the nature of the mind itself. In simple terms, God comes from within, and enlightenment is attained through meditation. Meditation is concentration, and concentration is the active rejection of all distracting information. Mixerman
  • StillnessMeditation

Enlightenment doesn’t come from great effort…

  • Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything.  Do not be a meditator.  Do not become enlightened.  When you sit, let it be.  When you walk, let it be.  Grasp at nothing.  Resist nothing. Ajhan Chah
  • EffortEffortlessness

… but it does require great discipline

  • To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. Buddha
  • Don’t think you can attain total awareness and whole enlightenment without proper discipline and practice. This is egomania. Appropriate rituals channel your emotions and life energy toward the light. Without the discipline to practice them, you will tumble constantly backward into darkness. Lao Tzu
  • Self-disciplineWill power

Enlightenment is the opposite of becoming extraordinary…

  • Enlightenment is very possible for the ordinary individual. Actually, it is easier than for someone who thinks that they are special. Ravi Shankar
  • Enlightenment is very ordinary; it is nothing special. Rather than making you more special, it is going to make you less special. It plants you right in the center of a wonderful humility and innocence. Adyashanti
  • An ordinary man seeks freedom through enlightenment. An enlightened man expresses freedom through being ordinary. Adyashanti
  • Enlightenment is not about becoming divine. Instead it’s about becoming more fully human. . . It is the end of ignorance.  Lama Surya Das
  • The further we travel down the path of enlightenment, the more humble we become. We shouldn’t seek to impress others—or allow ourselves to be taken—with mere outer trappings. If we do our inner work, our spirit will be our calling card. Nice to meet you. Philip T. Sudo

… and doesn’t stop you from being aware of your limitations

  • If we pretend to be more enlightened than we really are, we will miss an opportunity to heal ourselves. Admitting our limitations can make us feel vulnerable, yet it is very freeing. We just have to be ourselves as we are now, accepting the mixture of enlightened awareness and human limitation that is in each of us.  Through this self-acceptance, we find a deep peace and self- love.  Shakti Gawain
  • Paradoxically, the more deeply one grows in enlightenment, the more clearly one discerns one’s own frailties and limitations. Hee- Jin Kim
  • Limitation

Enlightenment can come at any time…

  • You never know where enlightenment may come from. Be always open, on the look-out and ready for it.  Usually it is a click, something which falls into place after a long time of gestation.  The most unexpected event or person can trigger it off.  Robert Muller
  • In your everyday life you always have opportunities for enlightenment. If you go to the rest room, there is a chance to attain enlightenment. When you cook, there is a chance to attain enlightenment. When you clean the floor, there is a chance to attain enlightenment. Shunryu Suzuki
  • As unobtainable, as you have heard, that Enlightenment is, it is in fact within your reach, already waiting within the palm of your hand. Not much stands in your way. Nothing that you could not move in one day. Oshana Dave

… but often comes little by little

  • Enlightenment must come little by little, otherwise it would overwhelm. Idries Shah
  • You may have expected that enlightenment would come Zap! instantaneous and permanent. This is unlikely. After the first “ah- ha” experience, it can be thought of as the thinning of a layer of clouds. Ram Dass

Enlightenment requires openness to change

  • Everybody wants to get enlightened, but nobody wants to change. This is the simple, daunting truth that has been staring back at me from the eyes of countless seekers over the years. “I really want to get enlightened,” they insist.  “But are YOU ready to CHANGE now?” I ask.  “What?” is the inevitable response—surprised and even slightly stunned.  And I repeat, “Are YOU ready to CHANGE now?” What follows is always a strange and surreal moment of ambiguity, confusion, and backpedaling.  “But I thought you wanted to get enlightened… ”  Andrew Cohen
  • Change,   Openness

Rewards of enlightenment


Enlightenment brings great peace and joy and love …

  • There are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light- hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous. Deepak Chopra
  • If there isn’t an emanation of love and joy, complete presence and openness toward all beings, then it is not enlightenment. Another indicator is how a person behaves in difficult or challenging situations or when things “go wrong.” Eckhart Tolle
  • Enlightenment will be now the beginning, not the end. Beginning of a non- ending process in all dimensions of richness. Osho
  • Going back to the origin is called peace; it means reversion to destiny. Reversion to destiny is called eternity. They who know eternity are called enlightened.  Lao Tzu
  • Inner peaceJoyLove

… and follows through into your actions

  • Enlightenment, the old teachers say, adds nothing, except maybe the recognition of a need for and a commitment to the work that still needs to be done. Rafe Martin
  • Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity. Shunryu Suzuki
  • The Zen of doing anything is doing it with a particular concentration of mind, a calmness and simplicity of mind, that brings the experience of enlightenment and, through that experience, happiness. Chris Prentiss
  • Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can. Leo Babauta
  • It’s one thing to have the attitude of enlightenment and another thing to act in an enlightened way, which is conduct or activity… Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
  • The ultimate purpose of Zen,’ I remembered the roshi telling me, ‘is not in the going away from the world but in the coming back. Zen is not just a matter of gaining enlightenment; it’s a matter of acting in a world of love and compassion. Pico Lyer
  • Action

Enlightenment creates clarity of mind and thought

  • In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before. Eckhart Tolle
  • When we wake up from our confused state of mind, that is enlightenment. Dzogchen Ponlop
  • Clarity

Words can be a beautiful form of enlightenment

  • Words that enlighten the soul are more precious than jewels. Hazrat Inayat Khan
  • The way you speak to others can offer them joy, happiness, self-confidence, hope, trust, and enlightenment. Mindful speaking is a deep practice. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Words

Final thoughts


Knowledge is a form of enlightenment

  • Borrowing knowledge of reality from all sources, taking the best from every study, Science of Mind brings together the highest enlightenment of the ages. Ernest Holmes
  • In this world, which is so plainly the antechamber of another, there are no happy men. The true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness. Our aim must be to diminish the number of the latter and increase the number of the former. That is why we demand education and knowledge. Victor Hugo
  • Ignorance has always been the weapon of tyrants; enlightenment the salvation of the free. Bill Richardson
  • In this world, aspirants may find enlightenment by two different paths. For the contemplative is the path of knowledge; for the active is the path of selfless action.  The Bhagavad Gita
  • Knowledge

Enlightenment does not require an absence of doubt

  • In Zen Buddhism, the greater your doubt, the greater will be your enlightenment. That is why doubt can be a good thing. If you are too sure, if you always have conviction, then you may be caught in your wrong perception for a long time. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • There’s a Zen adage: ‘Great doubt, great enlightenment. Little doubt, little enlightenment. No doubt, no enlightenment.’ Doubt reinvigorates the question that keeps the mystery alive. Brian Mountford
  • Doubt

More on the paths to enlightenment

  • The 7 factors of enlightenment: mindfulness, investigation of mental objects, energy, joy, tranquillity, concentration and equanimity. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • If we demand enlightenment, it hides… All that we can do is make ourselves enlightenment-prone. We learn to treasure the possibility of awakening in all moments and circumstances. We learn to simplify and cultivate the receptivity of heart that can be touched by profound understanding.  We learn to listen deeply and discover stillness amid the movement in our world. Christina Feldman
  • Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life. William Blake
  • Enlightened space, the place of unconditional love, cannot be achieved until and unless one is willing to be comfortable with paradox and confusion. Ralph Walker

On a lighter note

  • To Do Today, 1/17/08 Sit and think.  2. Reach enlightenment.  3. Feed the cats.  Jarod Kintz
  • The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines. Anne Lamott
  • If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your family. Ram Dass