Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Enlightenment

"The purpose of this discipline is to bring man into the habit of applying the insight that has come to him as the result of the preceding disciplines. When one is rising, standing, walking, doing something, stopping, one should constantly concentrate one’s mind on the act and the doing of it, not on one’s relation to the act, or its character or value. One should think: there is walking, there is stopping, there is realizing; not, I am walking, I am doing this, it is a good thing, it is disagreeable, I am gaining merit, it is I who am realizing how wonderful it is. Thence come vagrant thoughts, feelings of elation or of failure and unhappiness. Instead of all this, one should simply practice concentration of the mind on the act itself, understanding it to be an expedient means for attaining tranquillity of mind, realization, insight and Wisdom; and one should follow the practice in faith, willingness and gladness. After long practice the bondage of old habits become weakened and disappears, and in its place appear confidence, satisfaction, awareness and tranquillity. What is the Way of Wisdom designed to accomplish? There are three classes of conditions that hinder one from advancing along the path to Enlightenment. First, there are the allurements arising from the senses, from external conditions and from the discriminating mind. Second, there are the internal conditions of the mind, its thoughts, desires and mood. All these the earlier practices (ethical and mortificatory) are designed to eliminate. In the third class of impediments are placed the individual’s instinctive and fundamental (and therefore most insidious and persistent) urges - the will to live and to enjoy, the will to cherish one’s personality, the will to propagate, which give rise to greed and lust, fear and anger, infatuation, pride and egotism. The practice of the Wisdom Paramita is designed to control and eliminate these fundamental and instinctive hindrances." - Aśvaghoṣa NULL

"Give up the notion that there is a final state to attain. Spiritual life consists of ongoing practice undertaken as a lifetime work. This realization breeds humility, especially when we realize that in our initial infatuation with enlightenment, we underestimate the amount of inner work necessary to free us from our addictive patterns of thought and behavior." - Stephan Bodian

"Faith, modesty, humbleness, endeavor and wisdom are the great sources of strength to him who is seeking Enlightenment. Among these, wisdom is the greatest of all and the rest are but aspects of wisdom." - Buddha, Gautama Buddha, or The Buddha, also Gotama Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha and Buddha Śākyamuni NULL

"Those who believe in the theory of rebirth would say that we are here because of our past actions. It can also be said that the essence of life is the search for happiness and the fulfillment of one’s desires. All living beings strive to sustain their lives so that they might achieve happiness. As to why the self, wishing for happiness, came into being, Buddhism answers: This self has existed from beginningless time. It has no end but for it to ultimately achieve full enlightenment." -

"Do not build up your views upon your senses and thoughts, do not base your understanding upon you senses and thoughts; but at the same time do not seek the Mind away from your senses and thoughts, do not try to grasp Realty by rejecting your senses and thoughts. When you are neither attached to, nor detached from, then, then you enjoy your perfect unobstructed freedom, then you have your seat of enlightenment." - Huang Po, also Huángbò Xīyùn

"Your true nature is not lost in moments of delusion, nor is it gained at the moment of enlightenment. It was never born and can never die. It shines through the whole universe, filling emptiness, one with emptiness. It is without time or space, and has no passions, actions, ignorance, or knowledge. In it there are no things, no people, and no Buddhas; it contains not the smallest hairbreadth of anything that exists objectively; it depends on nothing and is attached to nothing. It is all-pervading, radiant beauty: absolute reality, self-existent and uncreated. How then can you doubt that the Buddha has no mouth to speak with and nothing to teach, or that the truth is learned without learning, for who is there to learn? It is a jewel beyond all price." - Huang Po, also Huángbò Xīyùn

"God may be worshipped and contemplated in any of his aspects. But to persist in worshipping only one aspect to the exclusion of all the rest is to run into grave spiritual peril... The best that can be said for ritualistic legalism is that it improves conduct. It does little, however, to alter character and nothing of itself to modify consciousness... The complete transformation of consciousness, which is “enlightenment,” “deliverance,” “salvation,” comes only when God is thought of as the perennial Philosophy affirms Him to be - immanent as well as transcendent, supra-personal as well as personal - and when religious practices are adapted to this conception." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"At first glance, life appears meaningless, futile, full of contradictions and absurdities. But a deeper, meditating look uncovers beauty, order and harmony, revealing life as a supreme accomplishment of eternal wisdom... All of creation is an act of love and providence, a drama imbued with meaning... In simple words: Life is a mission of awareness and awakening and deep enlightenment. We are here to sense this divine presence beyond all phenomena. We are here to recognize a deep urge in our hearts to act in harmony, in conformity and in love with these divinities." - Mustapha Mahmoud

"Since there is really no duality, separation is unreal. Until duality is transcended and at-one-ment realized, enlightenment cannot be attained... All phenomena are your own ideas, self-conceived in the mind, like reflections in a mirror. To know whether or not this is true, look inside your own mind." - Padmasamabhava, "The Lotus-Born", aka Guru Rinpoche "Precious Guru" or Lopon Rinpoche or Padum in Tibet NULL

"When Enlightenment is perfected, a Bodhisattva is free from the bondage of things, but does not seek to be delivered from things. Samsara (the world of becoming) is not hated by him, nor is Nirvana loved. When perfect Enlightenment shines, it is neither bondage nor deliverance." - Prunabuddha Sutra

"What has become of the descendants of the irresponsible adventurers, the scapegrace sons, the bond servants, the redemptionists and the indentured maidens, the undesirables, and even the criminals, which made up, not all, of course, but nevertheless a considerable part of, the earliest emigrants to these virgin countries? They have become the leaders of the thought of the world, the vanguard in the march of progress, the inspirers of liberty, the creators of national prosperity, the sponsors of universal education and enlightenment." - William Randolph Hearst

"The aim of our worship is the purification, enlightenment, and uplifting of our inner selves." - Emil G. Hirsch, fully Emil Gustav Hirsch

"We possess a hidden higher self, the spark of divinity within the soul, which reflects this transcendental reality in our lives. By fulfilling certain necessary conditions, such as making ourselves more loving and compassionate, we can clear away the mental and emotional static that separates us from this inner reality, enabling the higher self to assume a central, guiding role in our lives. This awakening - called enlightenment, deliverance, or salvation in the various traditions - is the goal or purpose of human life. When we achieve this complete transformation of consciousness, we awaken from our limited, often painful condition and reconnect with our true nature." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Let life teach you what spirit it... By conforming to spiritual ideals imposed from the outside through the force of tradition, people often channel themselves into models of behavior that violate their inner essence. We are all guaranteed realization when we strip away our pre-conceived notions about spiritual perfection, give up striving form some idealized end-point called 'enlightenment,' and discover the magnificence of what we already are and live that fully." - W. Brugh Joy, fully William Brugh Joy

"Every kind of art is beautiful, as all life is beautiful, for much the same reason: that it embodies sentience, from the most elementary sense of vitality, individual being and continuity, to the full expansion of human perception, human love and hate, triumph and misery, enlightenment, wisdom." -

"The purpose of meditation practice is not enlightenment; it is to pay attention even at un-extraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each even of ordinary life." - Peter Matthiessen

"Gullibility isn’t a necessary consequence of being open-minded - but enlightenment is." - Lyall Watson

"There is no enlightenment in questions, but only barbarism in belief." - Louis Dudek

"It is a rare privilege to be born as a human being, as we happen to be. If we do not achieve enlightenment in this life, when do we expect to achieve it?" - George Echu

"Words cannot describe everything. The heart’s message cannot be delivered in words. If one receives words literally, he will be lost. If he tries to explain with words, eh will not attain enlightenment in this life." - Mu-mon Gensen, also Mumon Gensen

"Enlightenment for a wave, is the moment the wave realizes that it is water." -

"There is no enlightenment outside of daily life." -

"Enlightenment is therefore a progressive realization and does not represent a finished product, or a final end, or the completion of the evolution of spiritual possibility." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"We hear in these days of scientific enlightenment a great deal of discussion about the efficacy of Prayer. Many reasons are given why we should not pray. Others give reasons why we should pray. Very little is said of the reason why we do pray. The reason is simple: We pray because we cannot help praying." - William James

"Greed for enlightenment and immortality is no different than greed for material wealth." - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"The true master understands that enlightenment is not the end but the means. Realizing that virtue is her goal, she accepts the long and often arduous cultivation that is necessary to attain it. She doesn’t scheme to become a leader, but quietly shoulders whatever responsibilities fall to her. Unattached to her accomplishments, taking credit for nothing at all, she guides the whole world by guiding the individuals who come to her. she share her divine energy with her students, encouraging them, creating trials to strengthen them, scolding them to awaken them, directing the streams of their lives toward the infinite ocean of the Tao." - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"To eliminate the vexation of the mind, it doesn’t help to do something; this only reinforces the mind’s mechanics. Dissolving the mind is instead a matter of not-doing: simply avoid becoming attached to what you see and think. Relinquish the notion that you are separated from the all-knowing mind of the universe. then you can recover the original pure insight and see through all illusions. Knowing nothing, you will be aware of everything. Remember: because clarity and enlightenment are within your own nature, they are regained without moving an inch." - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"This middle path… is the noble path, namely: right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct, right means of livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, right meditation… Which leads to insights, leads to wisdom, which conduces to calm, to knowledge, to perfect enlightenment, to Nirvana." - Mahavagga of the Vinaya Texts NULL

"Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." - Zen Proverbs and Thoughts

"The mad mind does not half. If it halts, it is enlightenment." - Zen Proverbs and Thoughts

"Prayer is the constant feeling (the recognition) of our infirmity or spiritual poverty, the sanctification of the soul, the foretaste of future blessedness, the angelic bliss, the heavenly rain, refreshing, watering, and fertilizing the ground of the soul, the power and strength of the soul and body, the purifying and freshening of the mental air, the enlightenment of the countenance, the joy of spirit, the golden link, uniting the creature to the Creator." - John Sergieff of Cronstadt, aka Saint John of Kronstadt, born John Iliytch Sergieff

"To become conscious of what is unconscious and thus to enlarge one's consciousness means to get in touch with reality, and - in this sense - with truth (intellect-ually and affectively). To enlarge consciousness means to wake up, to lift a veil, to leave the cave, to bring light into the darkness. Could this be the same experience Zen Buddhists call "enlightenment?"" -

"The action of the creative individual may be described as a twofold motion of withdrawal-and-return: withdrawal for the purpose of his personal enlightenment, return for the task of enlightening his fellow men." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"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. Nobody can become perfect by merely ceasing to act. In fact, nobody can ever rest from his activity even for a moment." - Bhagavad Gītā, simply known as Gita NULL

"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." - Bhagavad Gītā, simply known as Gita NULL

"To unite the heart with Brahman and then to act: that is the secret of non-attached work. In the calm of self-surrender, the seers renounce the fruits of their actions and so teach enlightenment." - Bhagavad Gītā, simply known as Gita NULL

"Man is here to experience the unity of his own consciousness, to rise from suffering to perfection, and in the triumph of enlightenment to reclaim the earth as a heaven designed from him. Beneath the mask of suffering, the meaning of life is limitless freedom and the conquest of death." - Deepak Chopra

"Both delusion and enlightenment are only concepts. There is no delusion and no enlightenment. One who realizes this completely, with the whole being, is called “enlightened.”" - Dennis Genpo Merzel, aka Genpo Merzel Roshi

"Enlightenment is like the moon reflected in the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass." -

"To start from the self and true to understand all things is delusion. To let the self be awakened by all things is enlightenment. To be enlightened about delusion is to be the Buddha. To be deluded in the midst of enlightenment is to be an ordinary person." -

"Meditation is not a way to enlightenment, nor is it a method of achieving anything at all. It is peace and blessedness itself. It is the actualization of wisdom, the ultimate truth of the oneness of all things." -

"Freedom is not a luxury that we can indulge in when at last we have security and prosperity and enlightenment; it is, rather, antecedent to all of these, for without it we can have neither security nor prosperity nor enlightenment." - Henry Steele Commager

"Enlightenment is man's leaving his self-caused immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's intelligence without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if it is not caused by lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one's intelligence without being guided by another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know]. Have the courage to use your own intelligence! is therefore the motto of the enlightenment." - Immanuel Kant

"Work less on reaching enlightenment and more on developing the capacity to love." - Jack Kornfield

"They themselves are makers of themselves by virtue of the thoughts which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness." -

"Often in history we see that religion, which was meant to raise us and make us better and nobler, has made people behave like beasts. Instead of bringing enlightenment of them, it has often tried to keep them in the dark; instead of broadening their minds, it has frequently made the narrow-minded and intolerant of others." - Jawaharlal Nehru

"The end of argument or discussion should be, not victory, but enlightenment." - Joseph Joubert

"Charity has no label, compassion no religion, wisdom no dogma, empathy no rules. Integrity needs no laws, enlightenment no temples. Living in total harmony with Tao is beyond culture, oneness with Tao beyond philosophy. Emptiness and silence cannot be defined. The Way has no name, for it is Tao." -

"[Enlightenment is] becoming conscious of the Unconscious." - Shunryu Suzuki, also Daisetsu Teitaro or D.T. Suzuki or Suzuki-Roshi

"Where ignorance thrives, there can be no liberty, nor can it live very long even when there is enlightenment without the help of virtue." - Simeon ben Lakish, or Shimon ben Lakish or Reish Lakish