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Enlightenment in the Modern World

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Enlightenment in the Modern World

‘Enlightenment’ is an awakening in which an individual transcends the physical realm. Rooted in both Buddhism and Hinduism, spiritual enlightenment first came to the Western world through 19th century translations written by Max Müller, a German scholar. After undergoing necessary discipline and a series of significant experiences, a person becomes enlightened, finding the ultimate truth. How does the quest for enlightenment thrive in this modern age? How do you become enlightened?

Relevance

Thanks to the media-particularly social media-spirituality draws in more people everyday. Even skeptics develop interest. Compared to younger generations of the past, a huge number of millennials today are open to spiritual matters. They don’t just confine themselves to their parents’ beliefs or to a single faith. For instance, they relate to some eastern religious principles and see their application as convenient and even enjoyable for everyday life.

Practices

There are several ways toward spiritual enlightenment. Before getting into one, you must prepare to immerse yourself in a process: be self-aware, be humble, forgive (including yourself),  and embrace your fears. You can’t reach enlightenment without handling your issues. Once you’ve done that, you’re set to do any of these methods:

Meditation

  • involves obtaining inner peace by focusing your mind and tuning out external distractions. You sit in silence and let your body relax as you reflect. Meditation comes in various types such as breath awareness, zen, transcendental, and mindfulness.

Chanting

  • rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds. Often used for aligning internal spiritual energy with the divine, chants range from a simple melody to highly complex musical structures including repetition of mantras, sacred text, the name of God or a spirit, etc. You can do it on your own or with others.

Yoga

  • birthed from Hindu tradition, this method uses the combination of training the mind to focus on the body and the body’s exhaustion during the activity, to create an environment for enlightenment to occur.  The yogic movements’ repetitive nature keeps you from thinking about what you’re doing.  Physical stress on the body helps stop conscious thought, catalyzing the release of chemicals in the brain which cause the enlightenment experience.

Dance

  • also a form of physical activity that aids in focusing your mind. Like ritualistic dancing, movements you make lead you to awakening. Quakers (religious group) got their name from being known to shake their bodies to communicate with God.

Fasting

  • most religions and traditions practice this. Fasting is going without food for a certain period of time. Jesus and Siddartha Gautama, the first recorded Buddha, both fasted. Islam’s Ramadan requires fasting, as does Judaism during Yom Kippur. Because indulging in food gives us pleasure, depriving ourselves of it brings us closer to our god.

Prayer

  • a means of communication with a higher being, it’s a common method that can usher you towards enlightenment. The concentration and contemplation involved serve as a strong bridge. For example, the beads Catholics use to aid in counting repetitive recitation of their prayer help calm and focus the mind.

Pilgrimages

  • visiting sacred places induce a greater sense of meaning and purpose than familiar surroundings.  Many people travel to Jerusalem, visit Mecca, or climb mountains to sit inside holy temples. Going on a pilgrimage doesn’t necessarily remove conscious thought, but it does rid you of your self-centered thoughts, which you may not achieve in your regular environment.

All things considered, people of today continue to seek spiritual enlightenment. Whether they desire freedom from life’s bitterness or they long to know the answer to every question there is, spiritual individuals are the reason why this belief endures throughout generations.

Can you relate? Share your thoughts below. We’d love to hear them!

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Written by Hannah

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