- For other uses, see Enlightenment.
Enlightenment is a concept in spirituality, philosophy and psychology related to achieving clarity of perception, reason and knowledge. Concepts of it in the traditions of Hinduism are referred to as moksha (liberation), in Jainism as Kevala Jnana, and in Zoroastrianism as ushta. Enlightenment in Buddhism is referred to as bodhi, kensho and satori.
- See also:
- I am the completion of your incomplete self. You are a Line, but I am a Line of Lines, called in my country a Square: and even I, infinitely superior though I am to you, am of little account among the great nobles of Flatland, whence I have come to visit you, in the hope of enlightening your ignorance.
- Edwin Abbott Abbott, in Flatland : A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884), Ch. 14 : How I Vainly Tried to Explain the Nature of Flatland
- The matter is now so clear to me, the nature of real space so palpable, that methinks I could make a child understand it. Permit me but to descend at this moment and enlighten them. Pues no se nada yo la vdd :v viva holk ahre
- Edwin Abbott Abbott, in Flatland : A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884), Ch. 18 : How I came to Spaceland, and What I Saw There
- Neither an enlightened philosophy, nor all the political wisdom of Rome, nor even the faith and virtue of the Christians availed against the incorrigible tradition of antiquity. Something was wanted, beyond all the gifts of reflection and experience — a faculty of self government and self control, developed like its language in the fibre of a nation, and growing with its growth. This vital element, which many centuries of warfare, of anarchy, of oppression, had extinguished in the countries that were still draped in the pomp of ancient civilization, was deposited on the soil of Christendom by the fertilising stream of migration that overthrew the empire of the West.
- John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, in The History of Freedom in Christianity (1877)
- Killing one tyrant only makes way for worse, unless the people have sense, spirit and honesty enough to establish and support a constitution guarded at all points against the tyranny of the one, the few, and the many. Let it be the study, therefore, of lawgivers and philosophers, to enlighten the people's understandings and improve their morals, by good and general education; to enable them to comprehend the scheme of government, and to know upon what points their liberties depend; to dissipate those vulgar prejudices and popular superstitions that oppose themselves to good government; and to teach them that obedience to the laws is as indispensable in them as in lords and kings.
- John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787)
- The world grows more enlightened. Knowledge is more equally diffused. Newspapers, magazines, and circulating libraries have made mankind wiser. Titles and distinctions, ranks and orders, parade and ceremony, are all going out of fashion.
- John Adams, in Discourses on Davila : A Series of Papers on Political History (1790)
- Enlightenment should also be enjoyable.
- That discipline which corrects the baseness of worldly passion, fortifies the heart with virtuous principles, enlightens the mind with useful knowledge, and furnishes it with enjoyment from within itself, is of more consequence to real felicity, than all the provision we can make of the goods of fortune.
- Hugh Blair, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert
- Self-interest is hostile to the common good, but enlightened self-interest is not. And this is the best key to the meaning of enlightenment.
Neither fire, nor moisture, nor wind
can destroy the blessing of good deeds,
and blessings enlighten the whole world.
- I call that mind free, which escapes the bondage of matter, which, instead of stopping at the material universe and making it a prison wall, passes beyond it to its Author, and finds in the radiant signatures which everywhere bears of the Infinite Spirit, helps to its own spiritual enlightenment.
I call that mind free, which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which calls no man master, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith, which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come, which receives new truth as an angel from heaven.
I call that mind free, which sets no bounds to its love, which is not imprisoned in itself or in a sect, which recognises in all human beings the image of God and the rights of his children, which delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering wherever they are seen, which conquers pride, anger, and sloth, and offers itself up a willing victim to the cause of mankind.
- William Ellery Channing, Spiritual Freedom (1830)
- Since life is but a continuous series of experiences, everything ultimately helps me towards my final enlightenment.
- Sri Chinmoy, in Ten Thousand Flower Flames Part 1-100 (1979), #4029, Part 41
- We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home, nor shall her chosen altar be neglected. Willing votaries will constantly keep alive its fires and these shall gleam upon the shores of our sister Republic thence, and joined with answering rays a stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man's oppression, until Liberty enlightens the world.
- The law of nations is founded upon reason and justice, and the rules of conduct governing individual relations between citizens or subjects of a civilized state are equally applicable as between enlightened nations.
- A man of true honor protects the unwritten word which binds his conscience more scrupulously, if possible, than he does the bond a breach of which subjects him to legal liabilities, and the United States, in aiming to maintain itself as one of the most enlightened nations, would do its citizens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any other than a high standard of honor and morality.
- All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive, enlightening, familiar and surprising, for the edification of mankind, pinned down by the conditions of its existence to the earnest consideration of the most insignificant tides of reality.
- Joseph Conrad, Henry James — An Appreciation (1905)
- A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonal value. It seems to me that what is important is the force of this superpersonal content and the depth of the conviction concerning its overpowering meaningfulness, regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities. Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself. In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary.
- Albert Einstein, in Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York (1941); later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
- Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit... not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in what we believe is evil.
- Albert Einstein, in a United Nations radio interview, recorded in Einstein's study, Princeton, New Jersey (16 June 1950)
- The inviolate spirit turns their spite against the wrongdoers. The martyr cannot be dishonored. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame; every prison, a more illustrious abode; every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side. Hours of sanity and consideration are always arriving to communities, as to individuals, when the truth is seen, and the martyrs are justified.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, in "Compensation" in Essays : First Series (1841)
- Sanctimonious slogans have a way of lulling well-meaning people, and at the same time providing self-seekers with means to frustrate the very controls that are most needed.… The cloud of pieties serves, not to enlighten, but to obscure the real truth, which is that environmental pollution control can never be achieved by the worthy sentiments of industrial spokesmen, but only by government regulation.
- Samuel C. Florman, The Existential Pleasures of Engineering (1976), p. 27
- I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition"; and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence who enlightens, and gives grace, and faith, and power.
- Enlighten the child. Show him what magic truly is, and what it was, and what it may become. He has the potential to become the most powerful human adept of this age. It is up to the four of us to ensure that he chooses correctly. That is our mission and our burden.
- Men fall, roughly speaking, into two flocks: Those whose intelligence is uninquiring in the face of Art, and does not demand to be appeased before their emotions can be stirred; and those who, having a speculative bent of mind, must first be satisfied by an enlightening quality in a work of Art, before that work of Art can awaken in them feeling.
- John Galsworthy, in Vague Thoughts On Art (1911)
- What is Art but the perfected expression of self in contact with the world; and whether that self be of enlightening, or of fairy-telling temperament, is of no moment whatsoever. The tossing of abuse from realist to romanticist and back is but the sword-play of two one-eyed men with their blind side turned toward each other. Shall not each attempt be judged on its own merits?
- John Galsworthy, in Vague Thoughts On Art (1911)
- What is the mode of procedure of the Bodhisattva path? We begin with the topic of the altruistic intention to achieve enlightenment in which one values others more than oneself. The Great Vehicle path requires the vast motivation of a Bodhisattva, who, not seeking just his or her welfare, takes on the burden of bringing about the welfare of all sentient beings. When a person generate this attitude, they enter within the Great Vehicle, and as long as it has not been generated, one cannot be counted among those of the Great Vehicle. This attitude really has great power; it, of course, is helpful for people practicing religion, but it also is helpful for those who are just concerned with the affairs of this lifetime. The root of happiness is altruism — the wish to be of service to others.
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, in The Dalai Lama at Harvard: Lectures on the Buddhist Path to Peace (1988) by Jeffrey Hopkins
- The Buddha is a being who is totally free of all delusions and faults, who is endowed with all good qualities and has attained the wisdom eliminating the darkness of ignorance. The Dharma is the result of his enlightenment. After having achieved enlightenment, a Buddha teaches, and what he or she teaches is called the Dharma. The Sangha is made up of those who engage in the practice of the teachings given by the Buddha. . . . One of the benefits of refuge is that all of the misdeeds you have committed in the past can be purified, because taking refuge entails accepting the Buddha's guidance and following a path of virtuous action.
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, in The Way to Freedom : Core Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism (1994)
- According to Buddhism, individuals are masters of their own destiny. And all living beings are believed to possess the nature of the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra, the potential or seed of enlightenment, within them. So our future is in our own hands. What greater free will do we need?
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, in answering the question: "Do sentient beings have free will?" in Dzogchen : The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection (2001)
- Children live on one side of despair, the awakened on the other side. p.83
- This condition of cosmic consciousness, which under favorable conditions can be evoked by LSD or by another hallucinogen from the group of Mexican sacred drugs, is analogous to spontaneous religious enlightenment, with the unio mystica. In both conditions, which often last only for a timeless moment, a reality is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental reality, in which universe and self, sender and receiver, are one.
- Dr. Albert Hofmann, in LSD : My Problem Child (1980), Ch. 11 : LSD Experience and Reality
- Who can over estimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted in superstition could be used to enlighten, elevate and civilize mankind?
- Robert G. Ingersoll, in Some Mistakes of Moses (1879) Section II, "Free Schools"
- If you send men to the penitentiary for speaking their thoughts, for endeavoring to enlighten their fellows, then the penitentiary will become a place of honor, and the victim will step from it — not stained, not disgraced, but clad in robes of glory.
- Robert G. Ingersoll, in his appeal to the jury in the trial of C.B. Reynolds for blasphemy (May 1887)
- It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.
- Eugène Ionesco, in Découvertes (1970), as quoted in Choosing the Future : The Power of Strategic Thinking (1997) by Stuart Wells, p. 15
- The disadvantages under which his doctrines appear are remarkable. … According to the ordinary fate of those who attempt to enlighten and reform mankind, he fell an early victim to the jealousy & combination of the altar and the throne, at about 33 years of age, his reason having not yet attained the maximum of its energy, nor the course of his preaching, which was but of 3 years at most, presented occasions for developing a complete system of morals. … Notwithstanding these disadvantages, a system of morals is presented to us, which, if filled up in the true style and spirit of the rich fragments he left us, would be the most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man. … His moral doctrines, relating to kindred & friends, were more pure & perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants and common aids. A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.
- Thomas Jefferson, in '"Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus, Compared with Those of Others" in a letter to Benjamin Rush (12 April 1803)
- Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Du Pont de Nemours (April 24, 1816)
- Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to H. Tompkinson, a.k.a. Samuel Kercheval (12 July 1816)
- I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William Charles Jarvis (28 September 1820)
- Freedom of the press, subject only to liability for personal injuries. This formidable censor of the public functionaries, by arraigning them at the tribunal of public opinion, produces reform peaceably, which must otherwise be done by revolution. It is also the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral, and social being.
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to A. Coray a.k.a. Adamantios Koraes (31 October 1823)
- Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another.
- Immanuel Kant, "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)
- Enlighten the dark blood of your ancestors, shape their cries into speech, purify their will, widen their narrow, unmerciful brows.
- Nikos Kazantzakis, in The Saviors of God (1923), Second Step: The Race
- This State, this city, this campus, have stood long for both human rights and human enlightenment — and let that forever be true.
- John F. Kennedy , in remarks in Nashville at the 90th Anniversary Convocation of Vanderbilt University (18 May 1963)
- Chemistry, in its application to animals and vegetables. Endeavours jointly with physiology to enlighten us respecting the mysterious processes and sources of organic life.
- Justus von Liebig (1854) Familiar Letters on Chemistry (1854)
- Elegance is a small price to pay for enlightenment, and I was glad to pay it.
- Ursula K. Le Guin, in The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), Ch. 8 : Another Way into Orgoreyn
- Character and training disposed him not to interfere in other mens’s business. His job was to find out what they did, and his inclination was to let them go on doing it. He preferred to be enlightened, rather than to enlighten; to seek facts rather than the Truth. But even the most unmissionary soul, unless he pretend he has no emotions, is sometimes faced with a choice between commission and omission. “What are they doing?” abruptly becomes, “What are we doing?” and then, “What must I do?”
- Ursula K. Le Guin, in The Word for World Is Forest (1972), Section 5
- If the Lord — who is the light of all things — vouchsafe to enlighten me, I will treat of Light…
- Leonardo da Vinci, in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (1888) as translated by Jean Paul Richter, Book I : Prolegomena and General Introduction to the Book on Painting
- There are four different theories concerning Divine Providence; they are all ancient, known from the time of the Prophets, when the true law was revealed to enlighten these dark regions.
- Maimonides, in Guide for the Perplexed (c. 1190), Part III, Ch.17
- Tragedy enlightens — and it must, in that it points the heroic finger at the enemy of man's freedom. The thrust for freedom is the quality in tragedy which exalts. The revolutionary questioning of the stable environment is what terrifies.
- Arthur Miller, in "Tragedy and the Common Man" in The New York Times (27 February 1949)
- Some believe history is littered with evidence of time travelers. Men who came from the future and tried to enlighten us: Da Vinci, Galileo, Barney the Dinosaur.
- Professor Nebulous, in Nebulous, Episode 5: Holofile 840: Tempus Fugitive,
- When I got around to read Plato, I found that he reinforced and copper-fastened the notion which experience had already rather forcibly suggested, that direct attempts to overcome and enlighten ignorance are a doubtful venture; the notion that it is impossible, as one of my friends puts it, to tell anybody anything which in a very real sense he does not already know. It seemed extraordinary that this should be so. Nevertheless, there it was; and apparently no one could give, — certainly no one, not even Plato, did give, — any more intelligent and satisfying reason why it should be so than I could give; and I could give none at all.
- Albert Jay Nock, in Memoirs of a Superflous Man (1943), p. 16
- The atheist who affects to reason, and the fanatic who rejects reason, plunge themselves alike into inextricable difficulties. The one perverts the sublime and enlightening study of natural philosophy into a deformity of absurdities by not reasoning to the end. The other loses himself in the obscurity of metaphysical theories, and dishonours the Creator, by treating the study of his works with contempt. The one is a half-rational of whom there is some hope, the other a visionary to whom we must be charitable.
- Thomas Paine, in "A Discourse delivered by Thomas Paine, at the Society of the Theophilanthropists at Paris, 1798", reviewed in The Monthly Review, or, Literary Journal, Vol. 30, pp. 113-4, by Ralph Griffiths, G. E. Griffiths (1799); republished in Miscellaneous Letters and Essays, on Various Subjects (1817)
- Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare, That no Person or Persons, inhabiting in this Province or Territories, who shall confess and acknowledge One almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World; and profess him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person or Estate, because of his or their conscientious Persuasion or Practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry, contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or suffer any other Act or Thing, contrary to their religious Persuasion.
- William Penn, in the Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges (28 October 1701)
- The animal nature of man is a combination of habits. Therefore, by watching oneself, it is possible to create certain good habits. Finally, you will kindle a little flame in your hearts and then this long-torturing process of practising good habits may, in one moment of illumination, become a joyous part of your enlightened consciousnesses. And once more, I ask you to be honest with your own selves. Lying to oneself is the most terrible sin. It injures the consciousness and leads to so-called death of the spirit.
- Helena Roerich. Letters of Helena Roerich I (17 November 1932)
- It isn’t at all a matter of being optimistic, but rather of continuing to have faith in the ongoing and literally unending process of emancipation and enlightenment that, in my opinion, frames and gives direction to the intellectual vocation.
- Edward Said, in the Preface to 25th anniversary edition of Orientalism (1994), p. xv
- Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.
- Edward Said, Orientalism (1979), Preface (2003)
- This shit is not for me – I don't care how enlightening it is.
- There are people whose whole life consists in always saying no. It would be no small accomplishment to be able to say no properly, but whoever can do no more, surely cannot do so properly. The taste of these nay-sayers is like an efficient pair of scissors for pruning the extremities of genius; their enlightenment is like a great candle-snuffer for the flame of enthusiasm and their reason a mild laxative against immoderate pleasure and love.
- Friedrich Schlegel, Lucinde and the Fragments, p. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 88
- It is the courage to make a clean breast of it in the face of every question that makes the philosopher. He must be like Sophocles’ Oedipus, who, seeking enlightenment concerning his terrible fate, pursues his indefatigable inquiry even though he divines that appalling horror awaits him in the answer. But most of us carry with us the Jocasta in our hearts, who begs Oedipus, for God’s sake, not to inquire further.
- I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness,
Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy;
And, to enlighten thee, gave eyes to blindness,
Or made them swear against the thing they see;
- For I have sworn thee fair; more perjur'd I,
To swear against the truth so foul a lie!
- Psychologically speaking, enlightenment always meant an advance in the training of mistrust — in the construction of an ego concerned about self-assertion and control of reality.
- Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 47
- The subject of a radical ego enlightenment cannot be socially identified with certainty — even though the procedures of this enlightenment are anchored in reality.
In this point, the majority of societies seem to strive for a conscious nonenlightenment.
- Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 60
- Crosswise to all political fronts, it is the “ego” in society that offers the most resolute resistance against the decisive enlightenment. Scarcely anyone will put up with radical self-reflection on this point, not even many of those who regard themselves as enlighteners.
- Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 60
- I had to tell a scared child who wanted nothing more than to play with other children that he was God's only son, and that it meant a life of persecution and eventual crucifixion at the hands of the very people he had come to enlighten and redeem. He begged me to take it all back. He begged me to "make it all not true". And I'll let you in on something, Bethany. It's something I've never told anyone before. If I had the power, I would have. It's unfair! It's unfair to ask a child to shoulder that responsibility, and it's unfair to ask you to do the same. I sympathize, I do. I wish I could take it all back. But I can't. This is who you are.
- Man, no doubt, owes many other moral duties to his fellow men; such as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, protect the defenceless, assist the weak, and enlighten the ignorant. But these are simply moral duties, of which each man must be his own judge, in each particular case, as to whether, and how, and how far, he can, or will, perform them.
- Lysander Spooner, in Natural Law; or The Science of Justice: A Treatise on Natural Law, Natural Justice, Natural Rights, Natural Liberty, and Natural Society; Showing that All Legislation Whatsoever is an Absurdity, a Usurpation, and a Crime (1882), Ch. I : The Science of Justice, Section II, p. 6
- Thou who stealest fire,
From the fountains of the past,
To glorify the present; oh, haste,
Visit my low desire!
Strengthen me, enlighten me!
I faint in this obscurity,
Thou dewy dawn of memory.
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in "Ode to Memory" (1830)
- Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.
- There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.
- I need only suggest what kind of sermons are still listened to in the most enlightened countries. There are such words as joy and sorrow, but they are only the burden of a psalm, sung with a nasal twang, while we believe in the ordinary and mean.
- Loving Ganesha and living with Ganesha will enlighten the soul and give one the peace and ecstasy that all seek.
- Tiru Raja Thurai, as quoted in "Loving Ganesha" by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, p. 547
- The courage to be as oneself within the atmosphere of Enlightenment is the courage to affirm oneself as a bridge from a lower to a higher state of rationality. It is obvious that this kind of courage to be must become conformist the moment its revolutionary attack on that which contradicts reason has ceased, namely in the victorious bourgeoisie.
- Paul Tillich, The Courage To Be (1952), p. 116
- When I occasionally quote the words of Jesus or the Buddha, from A Course in Miracles or from other teachings, I do so not in order to compare, but to draw your attention to the fact that in essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms. Some of these forms, such as the ancient religions, have become so overlaid with extraneous matter that their spiritual essence has become almost completely obscured by it... I love the Buddha's simple definition of enlightenment as "the end of suffering." There is nothing superhuman in that, is there? Of course, as a definition, it is incomplete. It only tells you what enlightenment is not: no suffering. But what's left when there is no more suffering? The Buddha is silent on that, and his silence implies that you'll have to find out for yourself. He uses a negative definition so that the mind cannot make it into something to believe in or into a superhuman accomplishment, a goal that is impossible for you to attain. Despite this precaution, the majority of Buddhists still believe that enlightenment is for the Buddha, not for them, at least not in this lifetime.
- Just because you can solve a crossword puzzle or build an atom bomb doesn't mean that you use your mind. Just as dogs love to chew bones, the mind loves to get its teeth into problems. That's why it does crossword puzzles and builds atom bombs. You have no interest in either. Let me ask you this: can you be free of your mind whenever you want to? Have you found the "off" button?... You mean stop thinking altogether? No, I can't, except maybe for a moment or two... Then the mind is using you. You are unconsciously identified with it, so you don't even know that you are its slave. It's almost as if you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be yourself. The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity - the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the entity.
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (1997) p. 16
- The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the* only true liberation. You can take the first step right now. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can... When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You'll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind...
When you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in.
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (1997) p. 17
- Only people who are in a deeply negative state, who feel very bad indeed, would create such a reality as a reflection of how they feel. Now they are engaged in destroying nature and the planet that sustains them. Unbelievable but true. Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species. That's not a judgment. Ifs a fact. It is also a fact that the sanity is there underneath the madness. Healing and redemption are available right now.
- See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always non-acceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
- Most humans are still in the grip of the egoic mode of consciousness: identified with their mind and run by their mind. If they do not free themselves from their mind in time, they will be destroyed by it. They will experience increasing confusion, conflict, violence, illness, despair, madness. Egoic mind has become like a sinking ship. If you don't get off, you will go down with it. The collective egoic mind is the most dangerously insane and destructive entity ever to inhabit this planet.
- Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997) p.67
- If it weren't for alcohol, tranquilizers, antidepressants, as well as the illegal drugs, which are all consumed in vast quantities, the insanity of the human mind would become even more glaringly obvious than it is already. I believe that, if deprived of their drugs, a large part of the population would become a danger to themselves and others. These drugs, of course, simply keep you stuck in dysfunction. Their widespread use only delays the breakdown of the old mind structures and the emergence of higher consciousness. While individual users may get some relief from the daily torture inflicted on them by their minds, they are prevented from generating enough conscious presence to rise above thought and so find true liberation.
- Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997) p.67
- Don't get attached to any one word. You can substitute "Christ" for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God essence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence... Jesus.. was a man who lived two thousand years ago and realized divine presence, his true nature.
The "second coming" of Christ is a transformation of human consciousness, a shift from time to presence, from thinking to pure consciousness... Ch. 5
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (1997)
- If a word doesn't work for you anymore, then drop it and replace it with one that does work. If you don't like the word sin, then call it unconsciousness or insanity. That may get you closer to the truth, the reality behind the word, than a long-misused word like sin, and leaves little room for guilt.
- Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997) p.71
- Open your eyes and see the fear, the despair, the greed, and the violence that are all-pervasive. See the heinous cruelty and suffering on an unimaginable scale that humans have inflicted and continue to inflict on each other as well as on other life forms on the planet. You don't need to condemn. Just observe. That is sin. That is insanity.
- The predominance of mind is no more than a stage in the evolution of consciousness. We need to go on to the next stage now as a matter of urgency; otherwise, we will be destroyed by the mind, which has grown into a monster. I will talk about this in more detail later. Thinking and consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought. Enlightenment means rising above thought, not falling back to a level below thought, the level of an animal or a plant. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before.
- Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose,(Full text) p. 20, (2005)
- Most ancient religions and spiritual traditions share the common insight – that our “normal” state of mind is marred by a fundamental defect. However, out of this insight into the nature of the human condition – we may call it the bad news – arises a second insight: the good news of the possibility of a radical transformation of human consciousness. In Hindu teachings (and sometimes in Buddhism also), this transformation is called enlightenment. In the teachings of Jesus, it is salvation, and in Buddhism, it is the end of suffering. Liberation and awakening are other terms used to describe this transformation.
- Until very recently, the transformation of human consciousness – also pointed to by the ancient teachers – was no more than a possibility, realized by a few rare individuals here and there, irrespective of cultural or religious background. A widespread flowering of human consciousness did not happen because it was not yet imperative. A significant portion of the earth’s population will soon recognize, if they haven’t already done so, that humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve or die.
- Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (2005)
- The new earth arises as more and more people discover that their main purpose in life is to bring the light of consciousness into this world and so use whatever they do as a vehicle for consciousness... Awakened consciousness then takes over from ego and begins to run your life. You may then find that an activity that you have been engaged in for a long time naturally begins to expand into something much bigger when it becomes empowered by consciousness.
- Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (2005)
- “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” writes the biblical prophet (Revelation 21:1). The foundation for a new earth is a new heaven – the awakened consciousness. The earth – external reality – is only its outer reflection. The arising of a new heaven and by implication a new earth are not future events that are going to make us free. Nothing is going to make us free because only the present moment can make us free. That realization is the awakening.
- Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose]] (2005)
- To sum up: Enjoyment of what you are doing, combined with a goal or vision that you work toward, becomes enthusiasm. Even though you have a goal, what you are doing in the present moment needs to remain the focal point of your attention; otherwise, you will fall out of alignment with universal purpose. Make sure your vision or goal is not an inflated image of yourself and therefore a concealed form of ego, such as wanting to become a movie star, a famous writer, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Also make sure your goal is not focused on having this or that, such as a mansion by the sea, your own company, or ten million dollars in the bank. An enlarged image of yourself or a vision of yourself having this or that are all static goals and therefore don't empower you. Instead, make sure your goals are dynamic, that is to say, point toward an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other human beings as well as to the whole. Instead of seeing yourself as a famous actor and writer and so on, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches or deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows from the unmanifested Source of all life through you for the benefit of all.
- Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, Ch. 10, (2005)
- The outward movement into form does not express itself with equal intensity in all people. Some feel a strong urge to build, create, become involved, achieve, make an impact upon the world.... Others, after the natural expansion that comes with growing up has run its course, lead an outwardly unremarkable, seemingly more passive and relatively uneventful existence. They are more inward looking by nature, and for them the outward movement into form is minimal. They would rather return home than go out. They have no desire to get strongly involved in or change the world... Some may feel drawn toward living in a spiritual community or monastery. Others may become dropouts and live on the margins of society they feel they have little in common with. Some turn to drugs because they find living in this world too painful. Others eventually become healers or spiritual teachers, that is to say, teachers of Being... On the arising new earth, however, their role is just as vital as that of the creators, the doers, the reformers. Their function is to anchor the frequency of the new consciousness on his planet. I call them the frequency holders. They are here to generate consciousness through the activities of daily life, through their interactions with others as well as through “just being.”
- Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, Ch. 10, (2005)
- The meek are the egoless. They are those who have awakened to their essential true nature as consciousness and recognize that essence in all “others,” all lifeforms. They live in the surrendered state and so feel their oneness with the whole and the Source. They embody the awakened consciousness that is changing all aspects of life on our planet, including nature, because life on earth is inseparable from the human consciousness that perceives and interacts with it. That is the sense in which the meek will inherit the Earth.
- The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all than you encounter.
- Morihei Ueshiba, as quoted in Inspire! What Great Leaders Do (2004) by Lance Secretan, p. 45
- We have never intended to enlighten shoemakers and servants — this is up to apostles.
- Voltaire, Letter to d’Alembert (2 September 1768)
- Harvey appears to have possessed, in a remarkable degree, the power of persuading and conciliating those with whom he came in contact. In the whole course of his long life we hear nothing either of personal enemies or personal enmities … one of the great men whom God, in virtue of his eternal laws, bids to appear on earth from time to time to enlighten, and to ennoble mankind.
- Robert Willis in "The Life of Harvey" in The Works of William Harvey, M.D. (1847)
- The object of education is not merely to draw out the powers of the individual mind: it is rather its right object to draw all minds to a proper adjustment to the physical and social world in which they are to have their life and their development: to enlighten, strengthen and make fit.
- Woodrow Wilson, in "Princeton In The Nation's Service" (21 October 1896)
- We are indomitable in our power of independent action and can in no circumstances consent to live in a world governed by intrigue and force. We believe that our own desire for a new international order under which reason and justice and the common interests of mankind shall prevail is the desire of enlightened men everywhere. Without that new order the world will be without peace and human life will lack tolerable conditions of existence and development. Having set our hand to the task of achieving it, we shall not turn back.
- Woodrow Wilson, in an address to Congress Analyzing German and Austrian Peace Utterances (11 February 1918)
- If those who despise us stone us as prophets, they must listen to us as prophets. If they curse us as sorcerers, they must learn to curse from us, as sorcerers.
Let us enlighten the young, and let us be condemned for corrupting the young, like Socrates. Let us awaken the old before they sleep forever, though they must read us in secret like the Kabbalah.
- Gene Wolfe, in Guest of Honor speech at Aussiecon Two (August 1985), as published in Castle of Days (1992)
- "Let love embrace the ten thousand things; Heaven and earth are a single body."
With sayings such as these, Hui Shih tried to introduce a more magnanimous view of the world and to enlighten the rhetoricians.
- I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul.