Satori is not enlightenment ?



Yoshigasaki Sensei published the following text in his “Lectures from Doshu” on April 26, 2020. It can also be found in "Aikido in real life" on page 200.

Satori is not "enlightenment"
The word "satori" has been used by Zen people for many years in Japan and most probably someone in Europe or United States translated it as "enlightenment". The real meaning of "enlightenment" is intellectual and philosophical movement in Europe. See Wikipedia if you are interested. So "enlightenment" has nothing to do with "satori". Satori is based on physical experience. Enlightenment is intellectual and philosophical. I suppose some Indian guru mixed them in order to get many students in Europe and US. It happens very often that people twist the meaning of words for commercial reason. It is happening all the time in our society and we all have to careful not to be brain-washed by them.

This text sounds a bit surprising, but in the English Wikipedia you can find under "Enlightenment" what in French is "Lumières", in German is "Aufklärung" and in Italian "Illuminismo". The corresponding term in the Japanese Wikipedia is KEIMŌSHISŌ. Most translations of Yoshisaki Sensei's essay are therefore wrong.


English: Enlightenment, French: Lumières, German: Aufklärung
is a philosophy that asserts the universality and immutability of rational thought. It is also called KEIMŌSHUGI, when emphasizing its principles.
As you can see from the word "KEIMŌ" in European languages, its original meaning is "light" or "illuminating with light". It means to use one's reason as the light of nature (Latin: lumen naturale) to eliminate supernatural prejudice and encourage the independence of human reason.

The Japanese terms:
啓 KEI clarify, reveal
蒙 MŌ dark, obscure
思想 SHISŌ Idea, Ideology
主義 SHUGI doctrine, -ism

Multiple meaning

English dictionaries usually list the multiple meanings of enlightenment. There is an explanation page in the English Wikipedia, which, apart from "The Enlightenment", only refers to the meaning in Sanskrit.


When Yoshigasaki Sensei says "Satori is not enlightenment" he actually means "Satori is not what they did in The Enlightenment." Unfortunately, this has not been taken into account in almost all translations of his essay.
EN: enlightenment - The Enlightenment
DE: Erleuchtung - Aufklärung
FR: eveil spirituel - siècle des Lumières
IT: illuminazione - illuminismo
ES: iluminación - Ilustración
HU: megvilágosodás - Felvilágosodás
SL: razsvetljenje - Razsvetljenstvo

According to Wikipedia "... the term enlightenment was popularized in the Western world by the translations of the German-British philologist Max Müller (1823-1900). Enlightenment describes the Western connotation of a general insight into transcendental truth or reality. The term is also used to translate several other Buddhist concepts used to denote (first) insight, such as Prajna (Sanskrit), Wu (Chinese), Kensho and Satori (Japanese)."

Max Müller was a philologist and orientalist. He was one of the founders of the Western academic disciplines of Indology and Religious Studies. Müller wrote both scientific and popular scientific works on the subject of Indology. Under his leadership, The Sacred Books of the East, a 50-volume series of English translations, was created. Max Müller grew up in Dessau in Germany, studied with Friedrich Schelling in Berlin and came to England after studying in Paris. He was an expert in Indology there and later became a professor at Oxford.

His works are still used by students of Indology and Sanskrit studies around the world. Max Müller is still popular in India today - that's why the German Goethe Institutes in India operate under the name "Max Mueller Bhavan". He was one of the first linguists to advocate the introduction of a world auxiliary language, giving preference to Esperanto among the drafts available at the time.
Müller developed the theory that mythology was “a disease of language”. By this he meant that myths transform concepts into beings and stories. In Müller's view, "gods" were initially words intended to express abstract ideas, but which turned into imaginary personalities. The Indo-European father god appears under different names: Zeus, Jupiter, Dyaus Pita. For Müller, all of these names can be traced back to the word “Dyaus,” which he understood to mean “shining” or “rays.” This leads to the terms “deva”, “deus”, “theos” as generic terms for a god and to the names “Zeus” and “Jupiter” (derived from deus-pater). In this way a metaphor is personified and ossified. This aspect of Müller's thought was later explored in a similar manner by Nietzsche.

Enlightenment guaranteed

is a German film by director Doris Dörrie from 1999. The road movie tells the story of two men, Uwe and Gustav, who find themselves with the help of a Zen monastery. Uwe is abandoned by his wife Petra, who no longer sees any point in living together. In desperation, Uwe turns to his brother Gustav, who is married to Ulrike. Gustav works as a Feng Shui consultant and has long planned to travel to a Zen monastery in Japan to make spiritual progress. The desperate and drunken Uwe persuades him to take him there.

When they arrive in Japan, they spend their first evening in Tokyo and visit an extremely expensive bar. When the advertising lights go out, they can't find their hotel again. Ulrike, who they ask for the name of the hotel over the phone, prefers to stay in bed with her lover. The brothers spend the night in cardboard boxes on the street. The next morning they lose each other in the crowd. Gustav meets a German woman and soon finds Uwe again by chance. The woman gets them a job at the Hofbräuhaus in Tokyo so that they can get money again and travel to the monastery to seek enlightenment.
Review: "A film that oscillates stylistically unconvincingly between home video, an introduction to Zen and a Far Eastern road movie. Despite these formal weaknesses, the seriousness with which the spiritual power of meditative attention is discussed and existential tones are deeply affecting."