Dennis reflects on the concept of enlightenment in Zen practice, emphasizing that it is not a goal or a race but rather an ongoing process of opening up to greater understanding. He discourages the notion of setting specific milestones for enlightenment, highlighting that it is not a linear path and can manifest at any point in one’s practice.

He likens enlightenment to a continuous expansion of awareness, drawing parallels with the universe’s own expansion. Dennis believes that creativity, expressed by artists and musicians, is a form of enlightenment, tapping into a source of energy and flow that is boundless. He dismisses the idea that enlightenment leads to a perfect or rosy existence, noting that it’s more about suffering less and reducing fear, especially regarding the uncertainties of life and death.

Dennis cautions against preconceived notions of what an enlightened person should be, acknowledging that individuals have their unique journeys and may not fit stereotypical expectations. Ultimately, enlightenment, in his view, involves being present, understanding things as they are, and embracing the ongoing process of self-discovery and awareness.


Reflecting on her teachers, Grace admires those who embody an awakened and aware life. She notes that the most awakened individuals appear remarkably human, devoid of pretense or facade, resembling everyday grandparents. Despite their normalcy, there’s a discernible difference in how they live their lives, a unique and subtle quality.

Recalling her father’s teacher in San Francisco, Grace highlights an incident where, despite the casual environment, he spoke to her using honorific language, suggesting a deep respect. This moment left a lasting impression, hinting at a recognition of inherent Buddha nature even in a young child. Another vivid memory involves watching a soccer game with the teachers, where a detached response to an intense moment showcased their fluidity and non-attachment. Grace perceived these instances as glimpses into a different way of living.

The teachers’ approach to daily life stood out, emphasizing non-wastefulness even in seemingly trivial matters like collecting gum wrappers for reuse. Grace acknowledges the profound impact of understanding cause and effect, expressing her aspiration to live in a similar manner. While she has witnessed these models of awakened living, she acknowledges her ongoing journey and the aspiration to align her life more closely with these principles.


In exploring the concept of enlightenment within the Bon tradition, Jackie emphasizes that it involves realizing one’s true nature, described as pure, clear, and interconnected with everything. In the Bon perspective, enlightenment is not an achievement but a recognition of the inherent clarity and lack of separation from the world. The teachings focus on training the mind to discern between the transient clouds of thoughts and emotions and the enduring clarity of one’s natural state. The goal is not to achieve enlightenment but to cultivate the ability to recognize and live in harmony with the innate clarity, wisdom, love, joy, and other aspects that naturally arise from it. When discussing enlightenment in her writing, Jackie underscores the importance of careful language, opting for phrases like “recognize the enlightenment” rather than “achieve enlightenment.”


Terry reflects on the possibility of enlightenment, emphasizing that everyone possesses the potential for it, albeit in fragments. He acknowledges the substantial commitment required, drawing parallels to figures like Maharishi who spent years meditating for a profound awakening. Terry views enlightenment as a form of maturity, noting the various levels of growth humans undergo physically, mentally, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

According to Terry, spiritual maturity involves recognizing interconnections, causes, conditions, and interdependence. He sees it as a natural progression in fulfilling human potential, embracing the idea that individuals already possess everything needed for happiness. Terry introduces the concept of bodhicitta, emphasizing that enlightenment is not solely for personal gain but for the benefit of others. He underscores the power of spiritual fellowship, where individuals collectively experience glimpses of awakenings and dissolve assumptions and delusions.

Terry draws inspiration from historical figures like the Buddha, highlighting the importance of spreading wisdom and engaging with the world. He stresses the spontaneous result of teaching, with all enlightened individuals actively participating in the world, sharing their fellowship to inspire collective maturation and positive change in relationships, businesses, and daily lives.