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Discover a Truer Meaning of Enlightenment: Exploring its Etymology and Personal Significance

Updated: Mar 8

In the ever-changing fast-paced world that we find ourselves in today, it’s quite easy to realize that words of our language are being misused, overused and interpreted in all sorts of different ways.


There is a word out there that has gotten quite of bit of hype over the last decade or more and even had its era, back in the 17th century.


ENLIGHTENMENT


What comes to your mind when you think of this word or when you hear this word being said?


Do you consider looking at yourself as enlightened or not?


If you do consider yourself enlightened, do you then ask why? The same goes for if you don’t answer yes to the above question.


This very thought came over me the other day, and it got me thinking on a deeper level…what is this thing called, enlightenment.


enlightened warrior in the forest meditating

Let’s start with definitions…what is enlightenment?


Taking a look at a dictionary, here is what it says: “the action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened”


Hmm…very good. Not much more has been understood by that clever definition.


Let’s try again, and let’s look at the etymology of the word (origins):


enlightenment (n.)


1660s, "action of enlightening," from enlighten + -ment. Used only in figurative sense, of spiritual enlightenment, etc. Attested from 1865 as a translation of German Aufklärung, a name for the spirit of independent thought and rationalistic system of 18c. Continental philosophers.


Hmm…let’s look at the root word.


enlighten (v.)


late 14c., "to remove the dimness or blindness" (usually figurative, from one's eyes or heart); see en- (1) + lighten (v.2). From 1660s as "supply with intellectual light." Literal senses are later and less common in English: "put light in" is from 1580s; "shed light upon" is from 1610s. Related: Enlightenedenlightening. Old English had inlihtan "to illuminate, enlighten."

also from late 14c.

 

Better…now this speaks clarity to the word.


With a better understanding of the origins of Enlightenment, I think we can understand what this word means now.

 

Back to the story I was getting at, so this idea of enlightenment, came to my mind the other day while outside looking at a tree. I then started asking myself if we’ve overused the word, like if we have been using it so much that it has become void of its original meaning.


In my opinion, yes, we have been overusing this word. So much so, it’s almost become a culture of sorts, and people like hopping onto other’s bandwagons. We are even seeing new words come up that are now slang terms for enlightenment or aspects that are representing a similar concept, words like “woke”, or “awake”, or “aware”, to represent the same thing. Back to one of my points, are people really looking at what it means?

 

To me, when I ask myself the question “What is enlightenment” here is what I believe it to mean.

 

It is not the knowledge one gains from the mechanical man’s world. Rather, it is the insights gained from knowing one’s true self, along with the natural laws, cosmic laws, and universal laws and also the insight of knowing that you now know more about yourself and the natural world than before.


Let me try to unravel that for you better.


Let’s say you learn a new topic about website development, or how to rebuild a classic car, would you say that is enlightenment? Are you now enlightened because of the fact? Or would it be better said: you've increased your knowledge on a particular topic?


This is what I am referring to as mechanical man / mechanical mind. That things that are man-made, things that humans have built, that we as humans then learn to understand because we want to gain a new skill or just understand it for the fact thereof. Topics that are, of course, valuable to the individual. However, they don't get deep enough into the essence of the natural world, into the essence of removing the darkness/blindness of your innermost self, to awaken something from deep within you, that would further


I believe enlightenment revolves around the newfound knowledge and wisdom of yourself, of nature, and of how this universe works and functions. To then be put into your philosophy of life, that you live by. I also believe that it is the feeling of knowing that you now know more about these aspects, that you can say with deep feeling “I am more enlightened now.”


On the flip side, there is the fact that enlightenment can not truly be obtained in the sense of as you would summit a mountain and be done with it. For that would mean there is a finite, limited amount of enlightenment to gain, or rather a capacity of what one can become enlightened on. I don't believe that to be so. Enlightenment and the progress of one's enlightenment is infinite and eternal.


Back to the question that spurred this on...To me, it is pretty clear that the word enlightenment is being overused by many people today, or at least the idea of it, and that is fine. As we see with all trends, it has its ups and downs, I just hope that doesn’t mean people will stop seeking enlightenment in the future to come, and the ones who are truly on their quest continue onward.


For the people who are working on themselves and consider themselves enlightened, don’t stop your quest for more. Continue becoming more enlightened. It is truly never-ending, as is the universe, limitless.


And here I am, back where I began, thinking about enlightenment and what it means.


A fascinating concept.

 

SD

 

 

 

 

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