People from the Orient are acquainted with the term “enlightenment.” People from the West are more acquainted with the term “awakening,” but both terms describe the same thing.

So what is “awakening” or “enlightenment”? In the Western tradition, Abraham Maslow was the pioneer in studying the wonderful experiences that accompany this state. He called them “peak experiences.” They are magical, wonderful, expanded experiences of being wholly present in the moment. They entail feeling fully alive, being so present that you feel and sense everything around you and everything inside of you. It was a very magical, beautiful experience he discovered as he researched the nature of self-actualization many years ago.

In Eastern traditions, they use the word “enlightenment” to describe the same thing. Enlightenment entails losing the ego and being present with the now. Buddha is quoted to have said, “There is no self.” I think what he meant is that we are so in touch with all that is around us that we lose the egoic identity of “me” and “mine.” There’s a greater love, and we’re more in touch with other people than we are with our own limiting identity.

In the Western tradition, awakening is sometimes described by the term “via negativa ,” which means, “It isn’t what you think it is.” In the East, they use the term “neti neti,” which means “not this, not that.” So enlightenment is really beyond description. It fascinates us, we pursue it, and some people even enter monasteries to experience it. Some people enter retreat centers and special programs to find enlightenment or awakening. There is a lot of energy around the world going into experiencing this state of awareness.

Enlightened, awakened people are very quiet. I don’t mean they don’t talk; what they do is stay still inside. They allow their mind to be quiet, to be at rest, and to be present with what is. Children are often perfect examples of enlightened beings because they are totally present with what is, right here, right now. They don’t worry about the past or the future. They concentrate on the moment they are living in.

If you’re interested in having your own enlightenment experience, I encourage you to be still. Be quiet. Quiet the mind. In that vacuum, you will find a huge emptiness of nothingness, that is actually filled beyond description. Let me give you an example. If you have ever been in a cave, as I have been when spelunking, you know that when you turn off all lights, it becomes pitch black. It is still, with no talking, yet that silence is amazingly full of energy.

I encourage you to find this emptiness, this quietness, and be present with what is. Don’t think about it, don’t put words to the moment, don’t describe it, just be in that state of peace. It is a state beyond adjectives or description. Lose all the adjectives, and just be. When you are able to maintain this state consistently, with eyes open. That is called enlightenment.

About The Author:

Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and creates a podcast and articles that explores the world of Enlightenment available at ?He also has a blog at He is the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at He has a weekly podcast that explores the world of Happiness at

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