When it comes to Buddhist thought, I prefer the word “awakening” to “enlightenment”. Enlightenment seems to infer some absolute insight or understanding or maybe even absolute truth with a capital T. I distrust any body of thought now that holds claims to Absolute Truth.
Whereas, with the term awakening there is the sense of becoming as opposed to having arrived. Awakening puts me to mind of living a more engaged life. That is what I think it all boils down to – waking up to life, to its cycles, its joys and pains, the beauty and the tragedy of it. All of life teaches, all of life sings when I am awake. Every enemy becomes a friend with a lesson to teach. Each hardship is transformed to the loving carving of character. Simple pleasures bloom on what was an arid expanse of mindless distraction. Time stretches. Life itself becomes cozier, richer and more interesting. With awakening comes the privilege of living an examined life. The tapestry becomes more complex, deeper in hue and dazzling in its ever-changing designs. With the release of clinging and negativity the waters calm, become tranquil.
“Are you a God?” they asked the Buddha.
“No,” he replied.
“Are you an angel, then?”
“Then what are you?”
Replied the Buddha:
I am awake.