from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act or a means of enlightening.
  • n. The state of being enlightened.
  • n. A philosophical movement of the 18th century that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions and that brought about many humanitarian reforms. Used with the.
  • n. Buddhism & Hinduism A blessed state in which the individual transcends desire and suffering and attains Nirvana.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An act of enlightening, or the state of being enlightened or instructed.
  • n. A concept in spirituality, philosophy and psychology related to achieving clarity of perception, reason and knowledge.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Act of enlightening, or the state of being enlightened or instructed.
  • n. same as AufklÄrung.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of enlightening, or the state of being enlightened; attainment or possession of intellectual light; used absolutely, a lighting up or enlargement of the understanding by means of acquired knowledge and wisdom; more narrowly, an illumination of the mind or acquisition of knowledge with regard to a particular subject or fact.
  • n. [Tr. G. aufklärung.] Independence of thought; rationalism, especially the rationalism of the eighteenth century.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Hinduism and Buddhism) the beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation; characterized by the extinction of desire and suffering and individual consciousness
  • n. a movement in Europe from about 1650 until 1800 that advocated the use of reason and individualism instead of tradition and established doctrine
  • n. education that results in understanding and the spread of knowledge


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • I am, moreover, sceptical _because the very persons to whom to-day we have to look to effect the sexual enlightenment of children, are themselves to a great extent also in need of enlightenment_; and in respect of many of the questions about which the child has to be enlightened, no general harmony of scientific opinion can as yet be said to obtain.

    The Sexual Life of the Child

  • I love the way Eckhart Tolle puts it: "The word 'enlightenment' conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment ... it is really just your natural state of felt oneness with Being."

    Steve McSwain: How To Know God Beyond Organized Religion

  • Though 19th century translators of Buddhist texts sometimes used the word "enlightenment" to refer to Gautama's moment of spiritual awakening on seeing the morning star, the first time a large number of general English readers saw the word used as a spiritual term was with the publication Essays on Zen Buddhism First Series by D.T. Suzuki in the 1930s.

    Lewis Richmond: A Cultural History Of The Word 'Enlightenment'

  • D.T. Suzuki used the word "enlightenment" to translate the Japanese term satori¸ and his recounting of the enlightenment stories from the Zen koan literature made quite a splash among intellectual elites at the time.

    Lewis Richmond: A Cultural History Of The Word 'Enlightenment'

  • The word "enlightenment" in a Buddhist context has been used so frequently and in so many ways, many people may not realize that this use of the word began fairly recently, and has a complex cultural and literary history.

    Lewis Richmond: A Cultural History Of The Word 'Enlightenment'

  • It will be interesting to see how the next generation of Buddhist teachers and practitioners deal with the cultural history and baggage of the word "enlightenment."

    Lewis Richmond: A Cultural History Of The Word 'Enlightenment'

  • The monks would "blow the bamboo" seeking what they called enlightenment in a single sound.

    Jim Luce: Park Avenue's Nichibei Exchange - and the Japanese Flute

  • "If you weren't in such a hurry, Dan, to show what you call your enlightenment (though heaven knows you may be wrong all the time, and a judgment is a perfectly possible thing) you'd have found out that I was only going to say that, if he'd thought more of other people, he'd find other people thinking more about him now."


  • If all we needed was more knowledge, then the search for what you call "enlightenment" might be the answer. Front Page

  • I have written before about the way that D.T. Suzuki's "Essays on Zen Buddhism" books promulgated the word "enlightenment" to describe an experience rather particular to his brand of Buddhist practice -- the Rinzai Zen of Japan.

    The Full Feed from


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  • *louder groan*

    February 9, 2008

  • It can work both ways, reesetee. When the vendor didn't give the patron his change back, the patron complained about it. The vendor replied "Change comes from within."

    *rim shot*

    February 9, 2008

  • *groan*

    February 8, 2008

  • You never know how close you may be to true enlightenment. The other day, I saw a guy walk up to a hot dog vendor and say "Make me one with everything."

    February 8, 2008

  • To be awake is to know what to do and not be able to do it. But, to really be awake is to know what to do and to understand that it can't be done. --

    January 27, 2008

  • Oh come on, that's just nonsense.

    October 16, 2007

  • A guy tells a story:

    "One Zen sage came to see another one. When he walked in, he held up his fan and the other held up a hammer. The first guy left and he came back the next day and he said, "What was the meaning of that yesterday that we went through?" And the other guy laid down and took a nap and the first guy smiled and left."

    Then the guy telling the story says: "What do you make of that?"

    It's the coming in and the going out. That's all we do: come in, and go out. And only the enlightened know what's going on.

    October 15, 2007

  • Presto Chango! The penny drops; the picture snaps in focus; one becomes ALL. Now, the laundry!

    April 4, 2007