1. to give intellectual or spiritual light to; instruct; impart knowledge to.
2. to shed light upon.
Origin: late 14th c. "to remove the dimness or blindness from one's eyes or heart."
A half-smiling monk in saffron-colored robes treads slowly through a tranquil garden, the sun glistening off of his round, bald head. His rhythmic chants blend into the melody of the chirping birds and the buzzing of the tiny honey bees—the perfect image of enlightenment itself... Or is it?
Ask around, and you’ll find people have a lot to say about what it means to be enlightened. Some say being enlightened is your inward, spiritual path towards becoming free from the suffering that your desire and ignorance brings upon yourself. Others say it is transcending the material existence. Still others say it is realizing that you can create your own reality.
But what does our Creator, the True One, who is Love, think of enlightenment as? What does He, the one who created mankind in His own image, think about what the fullest expression of being human is? To Him, enlightened people are those who are full of love and who express it all the time. And this love isn’t just some feeling you have, alone on a mountaintop. This love is a direction of the will, expressed towards another person. Being enlightened has “one another” attached to it. To be enlightened is to lay down your own life and pursuits to serve and care for others. This selfless act creates a community—a common unity among those who believe in love enough to actually do it.
For even if you understand great mysteries and have spiritual knowledge, enough to move a mountain, but you do not love, it is nothing.
It was for this cause of love our Master Yahshua* gathered together a band of disciples who spent all their time, day and night, with one another and with Him. He was the Son of God, and God is Love. But it wasn’t enough for Him alone to partake of this fellowship, to live an enlightened life — but He was preparing His disciples to live how He lived. That’s why He said, “follow Me...” He taught them to put love into action. Living together in community, He was able to help heal them of all of their wrong ways: ways of relating to God, ways relating to life, and ways of relating to each other.
Being with their Teacher and with one another day-in and day-out, in community life, brought all these false ways to the light. They needed to be with Him because they were full of problems that they couldn’t find an answer to in themselves or in following a teaching alone. There are so many things inside us human beings that are really dark, where the Light needs to come. We need to be purified and restored in our souls. He was the One who had the solution. He was the Light of love that could illuminate the cracks and crevasses in their souls. And the amazing thing was those dark places, once exposed to the Light, became Light as well. Hidden motives were exposed: their petty strife, shallow pragmatism, and selfish refusal to suffer— all had to come to the Light. This was a time of intense training and none of them looked very enlightened while going through it.
Because of His own humility and dependence on His Father, an environment grew around Yahshua in which He and His friends could share everything—not just their possessions, but also their joys, hurts, struggles, and victories— they had everything in common. A true spiritual Master passes on his teachings by example while keeping his disciples with him all the time. Thus, the disciples learned through observation and experience the way their Master thought and responded to every situation. They learned how He related to His Father in Heaven. He was their best friend and they were right by His side, learning to be true sons. He even told them they were going to be the Light of the world. They saw what it meant when He said that He couldn’t do anything apart from His Father. They witnessed His inner turmoil, His time spent in fervent prayer and contemplation. Yahshua had no advantage over anyone else, but walked on this earth as a needy man who had fellowship with the Divine Father in Heaven.
Despite the greatest efforts of individuals with much greater character than our present generation, virtually every attempt to live together in community has failed. Many found themselves powerless to overcome the fatal flaw of mankind — selfishness. So what was different for Yahshua and His disciples? Only through communion with their Creator were they able to have the power to forgive one another and be purified of their own darkness, rather than that darkness destroying them. If they hadn’t been living together, they never would have seen so clearly what was motivating them. Their common life was a crucible with the heat and pressure needed to actually transform them. In this environment, unable to hide their weaknesses, they began to accept themselves and each other for who they really were. They learned through experience that, apart from forgiveness and depending upon their Father in Heaven, they were a hopeless, un-enlightened mess. But with Him, the Way of Life was being illuminated right before their eyes, as they walked the ancient path of faith, embodied by Yahshua and demonstrated through this life of love and unity.
However, all of this was merely preparation for receiving the very Spirit of God: Ruach ha Kadesh, the “set apart breath” or Holy Spirit. Receiving this Spirit was the only means of being truly enlightened. Yahshua completed His mission by dying as a payment for their sins and guilt. After rising from the dead, He went up into the heavens and sent His Spirit to live inside of them.
These disciples who had been through the fire, who had learned how to be humble and honest, got filled up to overflowing with the Spirit of the Creator of all things. They experienced an inward spiritual transformation in their hearts which was manifest in a very tangible way — a new social order — community. As they gave themselves to denying their selfish tendencies and to loving one another their lives continued to undergo constant change and renewal — they were being restored from the damage they incurred while living lives separated from their Creator.
Now they experienced true joy and true love. They found the grace to forbear with one another with kindness and gentleness and patience, even those who weren’t kind to them. And they had a peace about them that ordinary people could not understand. This was the enlightenment that we all want, but it came as the result of the deep salvation they had gone through while they were with Yahshua. They all still had wrong ways to be healed from, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and their fellowship with one another they were able to actually overcome the sin that so easily entangles all of humanity. They now became the teachers, just like their master, passing on what they had learned and living out His example. When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, they gathered others together with them and established the same full-time, practical life of discipleship that they had known with Yahshua. They taught the new disciples the same lessons that they had learned. They helped them to give up their false concepts and false identities. They taught them to depend upon Yahshua.
But now there was an amazing difference. Yahshua had been with them in person, but now because of His Spirit being given to them, their connection to Him was through being spiritually connected to one another. They learned to recognize and respect Him (His Spirit) in one another. Their love for Him grew as they fell in love more and more with each other. They gladly shared their lands, houses, possessions, and even forsook old friendships and family ties, and even their own lives in this world (their independence), anything that would have held them back from loving Him and one another with all their heart.
Yahshua’s Spirit, love, and forgiveness are on the earth once again. Being connected to Him is what it truly means to be enlightened. Another word for enlightenment is “holy.” Holy means to be set apart in order to be made whole, enabled by Yahshua’s death in our place, to come into the Light and have Life, even as He did. Guilt and the inability to obey what we know in our conscience can be put behind us. Through Him it is now possible to overcome the fallen nature we’ve inherited, that which formerly kept us divided and alienated from one another
Enlightenment doesn’t just mean knowing about light and love, but it means being set free from all of the false things inside of you that cut you off from others and hold you back from being real. Enlightenment is your sins being forgiven so that you are free from fear and guilt, which enables you to live together without sin destroying you and your relationships. Enlightenment is found in the Way, the Truth and the Life - which is Yahshua.
Our Master Yahshua won’t be found in the divided Churches of Christianity, but only in a people who love one another so much that their unity and their life together proves that God really did send His Son as a ransom for us, and that He loves and needs us even as His own Son. For, as He said, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” Please come and see!