Satori vs. Kensho – Different Forms of Awakening

In this post, I am going to discuss two enlightenment experiences known as Satori and Kensho in the Buddhist tradition since I have been reading about it from the past few weeks.

Last month, one day when I started my day as usual with a cup of coffee sitting in front of my laptop and watching a video that featured Michael Bernard Beckwith, I found something in that talk so intriguing that I spent a lot of time since then to know more about it.

These terms came to my awareness a lot recently, like when I was reading Joe Vitale’s Zero Limits book, the term Satori flashed in front of me, at that moment I realized that I must do a little research and write a post on it.

After delving into various materials I have prepared this post to inform you about these two astounding spiritual awakening states.

Two Types of Awakening

You can never know how, where and when someone is going to have the awakening experience or whether someone will ever be awakened or not.

Many spiritual teachings say that awakening is a process that happens through various different lifetimes. But we can say one thing with surety – There are two ways in which a person can get the glimpses of the highest Truth.

Michael Beckwith explained these two states in that interview as something similar to this: –

Satori – It is a sudden awakening experience where the person becomes aware of the truth and sees everything “as it is” without any filtering of the information. This is a profoundly liberating experience that immediately shifts the perception of a person and gives them the access to the ultimate truth.

Kensho – Even though we can say that these two experiences are just two different paths leading to the same destination, Kensho is a process through which we all are evolving spiritually. It is a gradual process where a person keeps learning from their experiences and receives various insights that slowly pushes them towards the state of enlightenment. It is like a marathon where you learn from mistakes, sufferings and pain, and thus become better than before.

So from the above talk, we can infer that enlightenment can happen in two ways, one is through pain and the other is through insight.

It is not necessary that a person will be able to stay in that state forever; these are just experiences that can lead to enlightenment or give a glimpse of what it means to be awakened.

What Can You Do to Get Spiritually Awakened?

We can see this in the lives of many famous spiritual masters, they have gone through extreme physical or mental anguish before they got enlightened. One such good example is of the modern-day spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, who wrote the amazing book “the power of now” in which he has mentioned how the immense emotional suffering caused a sudden change in his perception and brought the realization of his true nature.

However, it is not necessary that you will only receive these insights during hard times. Sometimes, people with increased present moment awareness reach the thoughtless state where they get to have some profound spiritual insights, but there is no quick magical formula to make it happen.

You just need to become a more aware person with the practice of meditation or mindfulness exercises and you will keep advancing spiritually.

It might seem unfair to spiritual people that those who have never been interested in their spiritual growth get these insights quite easily, whereas others who have been regularly meditating every day for years never get to reach there.

Satori and Kensho both can happen to anyone, regardless of how hard they have been trying. In fact, most people who want to receive these insights never get it.

There have been many enlightened people in history who were not at all interested in getting liberated.

Why?- Because our desire to get enlightened blocks us from seeing the truth which is always present in the now moment.

If you are doing various spiritual practices for reaching a particular future state, it will always remain a thing of the future.

Your aim should be to be more present in every moment, that’s it. By focusing on the present moment you can improve your emotional state to a great extent and that is what you should strive for.

If you will set your goal to get enlightened then you will not only block your spiritual progress but you will also decrease the effects of all the practices that you might have been doing.

So, what can you do to get awakened? – NOTHING

Nothingness is the key to enlightenment, which implies your ability to detach yourself from everything that happens inside your mind. Even attachment to the desire for liberation is one main factor that stops your progress.

I am saying this from my own experience, despite knowing all this I have always been attached to the idea of enlightenment and that desire kept growing day by day until all my efforts got backfired and the consequence was the undesirable mind states.

Now I have learned the lesson and I practice meditation or mindfulness just for the purpose of becoming an emotionally healthy person.

If my example is not enough for you to get this point then let me tell you that the Buddha himself had to learn this lesson through suffering until he realized that he has to let go of the need to become enlightened.

Satori or Kensho, both make you experience your oneness with “all that is”, but just keep your goal to have more inner peace in your life till that happens naturally.


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