What is Enlightenment? Nirvana? Nibbana?

A monk in Jhana realm at the top of a local Theravada Buddhist temple in Krabi, Thailand.

I can pinpoint the day that my search for enlightenment ended. It wasn’t that I became enlightened on that day, but the whole question of whether enlightenment was anything worth pursuing just stopped. It didn’t matter after August 30, 2007. The incident that preceded it was a nice meditation session that resulted in what I call a flatline mind and what others like Shinzen and Bhante Vimalaramsi call “non-dual awareness.” I even have video of my state of mind after that meditation session here.

This state didn’t last eternally from that day, but it did stay strong over almost three days. On May 16, 2009 I have another journal entry that shows that the permanent change had been a couple of months prior.

Shinzen Young talks about the non-dual awareness state as enlightenment in this video. He also describes enlightenment here in a really amazing way. I’ll transcribe the video below because it’s just too good not to.

Shinzen Young’s take on Enlightenment in 2 minutes (transcribed from below)

Moment by moment you’ve probably noticed that you have thoughts. Moment by moment you’ve probably noticed that you have body sensations. You’ve also probably noticed that as soon as a thought arises or a body sensation arises, there’s a tendency to say this thought is me, this body sensation is me.

Nothing mysterious so far

The next part you have to sort of use your imagination. Imagine that you still have thoughts and you still have body sensations, but they no longer immediately trap your identity. So your identity is free. Free to be inside your mind and body like it was before, but also free to move outside of your mind and body to inhabit briefly anyone’s mind and body to merge with them or to embrace the entire universe.

Or to abide at the still point of the turning world beyond time and space. Nothingness the precedes the big bang. So to speak. Metaphorically speaking.

So, after enlightenment, people’s identity becomes elastic and the mind and body is no longer a place you’re locked in. It’s a home you comfortably can abide in but you can leave anytime you want.

And that’s why we also call it liberation. Being set free.

Shinzen Young’s Short Take on Enlightenment (Video)

UG Krishnamurti’s Description of His State of Mind (Video at bottom of page)

Bhante Vimalaramsi (Theravada Buddhist Monk) on the Experience of Nibbana (Video)

Thich Nhat Hanh on Enlightenment (Video)

Adyashanti on Enlightenment (Video)

He says basically it is not perceiving through the lens of ego.

Gary Weber’s Idea of Enlightenment