I believe in enlightenment as opposed to Enlightenment because the latter implies that there is a quantifiable destination and transcendental concept that applies to everyone.
I believe that enlightenment is a journey, not a destination and that the journey is different for everyone. It’s not about striving towards a “best person” you can be or even a path towards a greater awareness of the universe; enlightenment is being and the path itself.
I believe that enlightenment is the ongoing process of developing our own perspectives accumulated and created from sensory factors we interpret as well as social, cultural, and familial norms and values that shape our individual perspectives either because we accept them, or because we reject them.
Therefore, enlightenment for me is less about understanding a universal principle or perspective that applies to everyone, but rather about becoming more aware of the ways in which we as individuals interpret the world, and that our individual interpretations are all different.
I was once told that learning is an ongoing process that continues throughout our lifetimes; that the learners will inherit the earth, and the learned will be well equipped to function in a world that no longer exists. The way I interpret that advice is exactly how I have come to interpret the meaning of enlightenment.
There is always more you can learn, yes I’m talking about formal education but I’m also talking about listening to other people and how they have chosen to interpret life. Understanding that everyone interprets existence differently, you gain access to an expanded perspective of the world around you by exposing yourself to other potential interpretations of life.
Also, there is a lesson in every decision we make because there is the potential for both positive and negative repercussions for every course of action we take. We have the amazing ability to continually gain awareness of how our decisions are working for us, but also how they are affecting the world around us.
I believe that enlightenment is a type of learning process. It’s not about being the best because, in that kind of binary opposition, if you are not the best you are the worst. The enlightenment process is just that, a process of learning how to be more aware of how our interpretations, perspectives, and decisions shape our existence.
I don’t believe, therefore, that there is a destination or set point where one can definitively say that they have reached Enlightenment and no longer have anything to learn. I believe that the path of learning and awareness of the self is enlightenment.