This is the usual English translation of the Sanskrit word “bodhi,” which literally means “awakening.” It is achieved by following the Eight-fold path, and therefore constitutes freedom from all desires. Enlightenment gives the person who achieves it the wisdom of perceiving the ultimate reality, which entails the power and the ability to work to change that reality in certain ways–especially to help people in need. For example, Amitabha created the western land–the Pure Land–as a heaven for his followers. Enlightenment is often described as emptiness. This is the final step before nirvana. Gaining Enlightenment can be likened to breaking through a wall. At first, only a small hole may be created, through which one can briefly see a small part of the other side. Ultimately, the whole wall may be destroyed and all will be visible.

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