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The term “Enlightenment” has been described in various ways. It is the complete awakening of human consciousness. We do various physical and mental activities mechanically. It means you don’t use your consciousness on it. Application of consciousness means whatever you do physically- be mindful of it; whatever you think- be aware of it. With such practice, you tend to be fully awakened. The fully awakened stage is known as Enlightenment.

Views on Enlightenment by some thinkers

There are some philosophers and Lord Buddha to describe Enlightenment. Immanuel Kant’s opening paragraph of the essay “What Is Enlightenment?” is a much-cited definition of a lack of enlightenment as one’s incapability to think for oneself not due to his/her lack of intelligence, but rather to lack daring. “Enlightenment is human’s development from his self-sustained immaturity.” Immaturity is merely the renunciation of our intellect to the influence of others. Kant states Enlightenment is the moment when a person is going to use their own intelligence, without exposing himself to any influence. This an individual should cast off his immaturity but that man as a rational being.

What is the relationship between enlightenment and modernity?

Modernity is not a period of time. It is a mindset, an ideology, by which is meant simply “a medium of connecting to present truth; a willful decision taken by a person; in the final moment, a manner of thoughts and emotions; a way, too, of taking actions and behaving that at one and the same time denotes a linkage of belonging and delivers itself as a project”.
Modernity is a consciousness of the break of the contemporary or present— or put differently, a consciousness of its momentary feature. But it is not only consciousness. Rather, above all, modernity is the attitude that awakens the endeavor to capture something eternal within the ephemeral. In other words- modernity is to realize the importance or necessity of the qualities of the present, to cancel those that despise the present.
His goal is to extract from fashion the poetry that exists within its historical envelope, to separate the everlasting from the fleeting. Charles Baudelaire, “Modernity”, in The Painter of Modern Life, trans. P. E. Charvet.
Modernity is also an association that one sets up with oneself, not just with the present.
It implies the development of a complicated and challenging correlation with oneself in which man intends to invent himself rather than “discover himself, his secrets, and his hidden truth;” in Baudelaire’s words, it entails dandysme.
Such modernity “does not liberate man in his own being”; rather, it forces him to confront the task of generating himself.

Four stages of Enlightenment in Buddhism

The four stages of enlightenment in Buddhism and Theravada. They are four progressive stages culminating in the highest awakening. This fully awakened stage is also known as Buddha, Bodhi, or Arahant. The most ancient Buddhist texts represent the Buddha as denoting people who are at one of four phases as a noble man (ariya-puggala) and the society of such persons as the noble sangha (ariya-sangha).
The schooling of the four phases of awakening is a principal section of the initial Buddhist schools, comprising the Theravada school of Buddhism, which still outlives.

Sotāpanna (stream-enterer)

The first stage of enlightenment is Sotāpanna (stream-enterer). This is said to achieve an intuitive understanding of the dharma, this wisdom is known as the right view (sammā diṭṭhi) and has steadfast trust in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. These three are taken to be the triple refuge, also the objects of recollection. The sotapanna is “opened the eye of the Dhamma” (dhammacakka), since this is the stage to realize whatever begins will cease (impermanence). The conviction in the true dharma would be unwavering.
In this stage, the goal is seen. This is the first glimpse of the unconditioned element, the asankhata, in the moment of the fulfillment of their path (magga-phala). The sotapanna “may affirm this about himself: ‘Hell is terminated; animal wombs are done; the state of the hungry shades is no more; conditions of scarcity, hardship, the bad bourns are over! I am a stream-winner, firm, never again destined for states of affliction, traveled for self-awakening!’ Now there are, at maximum only seven more lives before attaining final enlightenment (nibbana).
Theravada Buddhism states in the period of 5000 years after the parinirvana (leaving of the physical body of the enlightened one) of Buddha, we can nevertheless attain Sotāpanna or even Arhat through practicing Satipatthana, which is the only way out. In this stage, the three fetters have abandoned- self view (existence of I), clinging to rites and rituals, and skeptical doubt. Six defilements are also abandoned- Envy, Jealousy, Hypocrisy, Fraud, Denigration, and Domineering.

Sakṛdāgāmin (once-returner)

This is the second stage of enlightenment. In Buddhism, it means “returning once” on this earth, which is a partially enlightened person, who has cut off the first three chains with which the ordinary mind is bound and significantly weakened the fourth and fifth. When this stage is achieved- will be reborn into the sphere of the senses at most once more. The three fetters are abandoned in the first stage. The second stage of enlightenment (Sakadagami) significantly weakens the chains of two more fetters:
Kāma-rāga ( Sensuous craving) and
Byāpāda (Ill-will)
Thus, the Sakadagamin still has comparatively sensuous desires and ill will. His mind is very pure. Thoughts associated with craving, hatred, and illusion do not occur often, and when they do, do not become compulsive.

Anāgāmi (non-returner)

This is the third stage of enlightenment or also known as the partial enlightened stage. Once this stage is reached, one will not have a rebirth in this realm of senses. If there is a bit of desire, then one will be born in Brahmalok (Cosmic universe or pure abode) for one or two lives. After that, he will attain a fully enlightened stage. He is completely free from sensuous desire and ill will. If there is some divine desire then have to take birth in Cosmic Universe. An Anāgāmi has cut off the five fetters.
The rest five superior fetters from which an anāgāmi is not yet free are:
Craving for fine-material existence (rūparāga)
Craving for immaterial existence (arūparāga)
Conceit or pride (māna)
Restlessness (Sanskrit: auddhatya; Pali: uddhacca)
Ignorance (Sanskrit: avidyā; Pali: avijjā)
When he is reborn in the Higher Abodes, one of the five following situations may happen-
He will realize arhatship instantly after rebirth or within the first half of his life in the Higher Abodes.
He will achieve arhatship within the latter half of his life in the Higher Abodes or at the time of demise
He exercises himself to the level of getting arhatship.
He does not exercise himself and yet reaches arhatship.
He navigates the five heavens of the Higher Abodes in order from lowest to highest before achieving arhatship. So also known as “one who traverses up-stream to the supreme gods.


The Sanskrit word arhat अर्हत् (Pāḷi arahant अरहन्त्) is a present participle derived from the verbal root √arh “to deserve”,cf. arha ” warranting, deserving”; arhaṇa “having a right, being permitted “; arhita (past participle) “adored, worshipped”. This term is available in the Ṛgveda with the meaning of “deserving”.
An arhat enjoys complete freedom from the ten fetters- five are as mentioned earlier and the rest five are as follows-
i. Attachment to the four meditative absorptions, which have the form (rupa jhana)
ii. Attachment to the four formless absorptions (ārupa jhana)
iii. Conceit
iv. Restlessness
v. Ignorance

Arahant is one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved Nirvana and is liberated from the endless cycle of rebirth. Theravada Buddhists view it as “moving beyond the territory of personal freedom to unify the Bodhisattva organization in their own style “. This is the state of perfection and or the final level of enlightenment. This is also known as the completely awakened state.

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