On Enlightenment

Enlightenment is a word that sometimes defies a definition that encompasses all its aspects.  Therefore, it is common to hear many other words to describe this state of consciousness, like "awakening," "rebirth."  Dr. Deepak Chopra calls it "God Consciousness" in his book, The Third Jesus.  

Author Stephen Mitchell argues in his book The Gospel According to Jesus that Jesus himself called this state "entering the kingdom of God."  Mitchell states his belief that all great spiritual masters have had this experience and want others to have such an experience. In the introduction to this acclaimed book, Stephen Mitchell gives a fitting explanation of the state of enlightenment and it's reality:

It is like being born into true life, or like the sun streaming into a room that has remained dark for a long time, or like waking up from a dream, or, as Jesus must have felt, like returning home to the Father.  And each of these images contains a further truth, if we follow it attentively.  Being reborn is only the first stage of a new life, and doesn't mean coming into full spiritual maturity: the infant has a lot of growing up to do before it is self-sufficient.  Awakening doesn't necessarily mean arriving at full consciousness  the dreams are gone, but we may still be sleepy, and not truly alert.  Or, to return to the image of sunlight passing through a window: the area has been suddenly wiped clean of selfishness and self-protection -- desires, fears, rules, concepts -- may be the whole windowpane, or it may be a spot the size of a dime.  The sunlight that shines through the small transparent spot is the same light that can shine through a whole windowpane, but there is much less of it, and if someone stands with his nose pressed to one of the other, opaque spots, he will hardly see any light at all. 

Translator and author, Stephen Mitchell and Dr. Raul Ramirez
There is a famous quote about Stephen Mitchell.  It is as follows, "Stephen Mitchell was educated at Amherst College, the Sorbonne, and Yale University, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice."