training of mind or spirit

The training of mind or spirit, picture taken from


Can you please explain "enlightenment" in the Buddhist context, and the word "enlightenment" in English?

— Richard, United Kingdom


The term "Enlightenment" in Buddhist philosophy means perfectly merging with the Cosmic Reality where there is no knower and the known. In Western culture it means returning to God the Holly Spirit.

In English the word "enlightenment", like the age of enlightenment, has a different meaning. It means having a clear intellectual understanding.

It is worthy of note that intellectualization is not present in the Buddhist concept of Enlightenment. Once there is intellectualization, or thought, the transecendental Cosmic Reality will be transformed into the phenomenal world where there are knowers and the known.

The paramount path to Enlightenment is meditation, which means the training of mind or spirit. The mind is trained to the supreme level where it recognizes that the personal mind is an illusion, that actually there is only all mind. In Western culture, it means there is only God and nothing else. In scientific terms, it is the universal spread of energy.


I think some of us also have some difficulty with the word "meditation". In our school you often ask us not to intellectualize when we meditate. But the word "meditate" means "to think of the underlying reason", which requires intellectualization.


This is a very good comment.

I recall that when I first taught meditation to English speaking students more than 30 years ago, I had difficulty translating the Chinese words "zuo chan" and "jing zuo" to them. I translated the words as "meditation", as the term had become established, although I was aware that "to meditate" might mean "to think", but in our form of meditation we didn't think.

Now, with better hindsight, I may use terms like "sitting in Zen" or "sitting silently", which are their literal meaning.

The term "meditation" was first used by early Christian fathers in spiritual cultivation. In meditation, they thought of God's words, and reflected on them. Later, when similar forms of spiritual cultivation came from the East, the term "meditation" was also used because their outward forms appeared similar, though in some forms of Eastern meditation, like in Zen, it was advocated to avoid thinking.

Zen is closely associated with our school. So in our meditation, thinking is often avoided.

We also use a lot of Taoist meditation. In Taoist meditation, intuitive thinking is used, like thinking of the dan tian. It should be noted that intuitive thinking is not intellectualization.

The term "visualization" may also need some brief explanation. We use this term because it has become established. But when we "visualize", it is more of having an intuitive thought, and not having a clear image.

For example, in sparring practice we may visualize an opponent kicking us. We just have a gentle thought of a kick coming. It is not necessary, in fact it would be detrimental, to have a clear image of the dress an opponent is wearing, and how he moves in to kick us.

The above is taken from Questions 1 and 2 June 2017 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.


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