Pure Nelumbo flower known as Lotus in a copper vase. Sacred plant in Hinduism and BuddhismEnlightenment is a state of elevated awareness and consciousness. This state is coveted in many religious and cultural traditions, and in Buddhism is a state involving discovery of truths about life. The  Enlightenment was also a period in Western history associated with increased awareness of science and reason and an increasing opposition to faith-based explanations. The cultural movements associated with the Western Enlightenment are traits many people think of when they say they they or others are enlightened.

What is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment is both a philosophical and psychological concept, and can mean different things to different people. It generally indicates a state of emotional and psychological ease along with elevated awareness and understanding of truths about life. Common elements of enlightenment might include:

  • Acceptance of one’s life circumstances
  • Feelings of happiness and peace
  • Acceptance of others
  • Feeling that one understands fundamental truths about life
  • Peace with death, conflict, and other frightening experiences
  • Low anxiety and depression
  • Surmounting chronic problems
  • Increased political awareness

In Buddhism, enlightenment is a form of awakening in which a person understands and accepts truths about life. In Sanskrit, the word “bodhi” may be used to indicate enlightenment. This term means awakening.

Mental Health and Enlightenment

While most mental health practitioners do not explicitly list enlightenment as a goal for their clients, some traits commonly associated with enlightenment are often goals of therapy. These may include self-acceptance, acceptance of others, and deepening awareness. Therapists who incorporate elements of Buddhism or new age practices may work to help their clients find enlightenment. Some mental health clients feel a sense of enlightenment, awareness, and increased peace when they complete therapy.


  1. Berry, W. (n.d.). Is psychology helping or hindering your enlightenment? Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-second-noble-truth/201109/is-psychology-helping-or-hindering-your-enlightenment
  2. Enlightenment. (n.d.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/enlightenment/
  3. O’Brien, B. (n.d.). Enlightenment. About.com Buddhism. Retrieved from http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhismglossarye/g/enlightendef.htm

Last Updated: 07-2-2018

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