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Enlightenment: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

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I’ve been reading a lot of books about enlightenment lately, and I still don’t have a clue as to what it is and why it matters. Can you help?Think of it this way: You suddenly find yourself at the center of a huge room so dark that you are unable to see your hand in front of your face. Wandering around in the dark, you continually crash into objects and become quite battered. In time, you grow hungry and thirsty and realize that unless you find a way out of the room, you will die. Determined to alleviate your suffering you work diligently to find a wall, and then feel along the wall looking for a door. In time, you come across a light switch. Throwing the switch, the room is bathed in light, and you make your way effortlessly to the exit. As you leave the room you discover an infinite number of other rooms, each inhabited by people desperately seeking a way out. You go from room to room, showing people where the light switch is. Throwing the switch is enlightenment. Helping others do the same is why it matters.My husband and I have an on-going argument about the origins of evil. I say it comes from peop …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, "Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler," addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more.

His newest book is The World Wisdom Bible.

He has this to say about religion: "To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence."

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