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The word 'enlightenment' can be used to refer to many different ideas. The phrase 'The Enlightenment' refers to a philosophical revolution of the 18th century based on rationalism.[1] In a secular or a non-Buddhist context the word is often used meaning full comprehension of a situation, or having gained spiritual insight.[1] Enlightenment is also used as a translation of the word Bodhi and thus is construed as being the opposite of Saṃsāra and thus means a state of freedom from suffering, desire and ignorance.[1] Many scientists believe that at the moment of the subjective experience of enlightenment there is an actual physical change in the brain, as detailed in Eugene D'Aquili's The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience.

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In Buddhism

In Buddhism, enlightenment refers to a unique experience which wholly transforms the enlightened individual from their previous condition in samsara.[2] Siddhartha Gautama who is also known as the Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, as are others reputed to have attained Buddhahood.

Within the Buddhist tradition several other words are closely related to the word enlightenment. Kensho and Satori are experiences at the start of the path to full enlightenment.[3] Nirvana, Bodhi and Mind are nearly synonymous with the word enlightenment, and in experience may be identical words. Tathagata and Buddha-nature are often used as impersonal translations of enlightenment.

The Heart Sutra says that in truth there is no suffering and no enlighenment[4] and this apparent contradiction is also seen on this page and in The Diamond Sutra.

In other traditions

In Hinduism the word moksha is similar to enlightenment and Nirvana.

The word 'enlightenment' also has parallels in the Abrahamic religions: in the Kabbalah tradition in Judaism, in Christian mysticism, particularly in Gnosticism, and maybe also in the Sufi tradition of Islam.

See also

Notes and references

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