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I have experienced enlightenment multiple times.

I have found many religions have a similar way of describing it, though they can differ about how many experiences occur and if they are sudden or spread apart over long periods of time.

I have also heard it referred to as Kundalini Awakening where it is a process that can take years to go through the 7 stages.

According to this article there are Four stages of enlightenment

My question is this, How many levels or layers of enlightenment are there? Does it happen all at once?

  • Why isn't the wikipeda answer enough? Isn't it clearly listed down there? – Sankha Kulathantille Oct 4 '17 at 10:27
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Adam,

enlightenment "certain realease or insight" should not be confused with "rightly awakening".

As for rightly awakening there are generally four stages (which is not a religious definition but actuually) and it's gradual.

In regard of release, see vimutti

  • From what is one released?: AN 10.81
  • Released through awareness: AN 6.13
  • Four kinds of awareness-release: SN 41.7
  • Released through discernment: AN 9.44
  • Released "both ways": AN 9.45
  • The Buddha's question-and-answer session concerning release: Snp ch. 5

Aside of this there are 4 fruis, one could say for stages of awakening: phala, defining with their path magga the eight Noble persons ariya-puggala

Generally it's spoken about 4 stages of awakening:

Noble Ones

  • the Stream-winner (Sotāpanna)
  • the Once-Returner (Sakadāgāmi)
  • the Non-Returner (Anāgāmī)
  • the Holy One (Arahat)


  • (I) Through the path of Stream-winning (sotāpatti-magga) one 'becomes' free (whereas in realizing the fruition, one 'is' free) from the first 3 fetters (samyojana) which bind beings to existence in the sensuous sphere, to wit:

-- (1) personality-belief (sakkāya-ditthi; s. ditthi),

-- (2) skeptical doubt (vicikicchā),

-- (3) attachment to mere rules and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāsa; s. upādāna).

  • (II) Through the path of Once-return (sakadāgāmi-magga) one becomes nearly free from the 4th and 5th fetters, to wit:

-- (4) sensuous craving (kāma-cchanda = kāma-rāga; s. rāga),

-- (5) ill-will (vyāpāda = dosa, s. mūla).

  • (III) Through the path of Non-return (anāgāmi-magga) one becomes fully free from the above-mentioned 5 lower fetters.

  • (IV) Through the path of Holiness (arahatta-magga) one further becomes free from the 5 higher fetters, to wit:

-- (6) craving for fine material existence (rūpa-rāga),

-- (7) craving for immaterial existence. (arūpa-rāga),

-- (8) conceit (māna),

-- (9) restlessness (uddhacca),

-- (10) ignorance (avijjā).

For even more about the stages of release and knowledge see:

Wisdom and the Seventy-Three Kinds of Mundane and Supramundane Knowledge, kindly given by Ven. Bhikkhu Ñāṇadassana.

Best support here for: Into the Stream - A Study Guide on the First Stage of Awakening

Much success! If not possible, the Buddha would not have teached, but a matter of effort and right deeds.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other kinds of low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange]

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How many levels of enlightenment are there?

I think it depends on the school, which defines and describes enlightenment.

  • You mentioned that Theravada defines four stages.

  • Wikipedia says that Mahayana defines Five Paths and Ten Bhumis.

  • "Kundalini awakening " is (I think) generally seen as Hinduism rather than Buddhism.

  • In the Suttas what is meant by "ujun kayan panidhaya parimukhan satin upatthapetva" is the "Kundalini Awakening" state when one enters into a Jhana state. – Saptha Visuddhi Oct 7 '17 at 3:28
  • @SapthaVisuddhi What do you mean by entering into Jhana state? Can you please tell? – user10804 Oct 21 '17 at 13:01
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4 Stages to reach Arahat is like the major milestones in traditional way using self power. Even great Zen masters can't reach Arahat. That's why most enlightened Zen masters in China turn to practice Pureland at the end of their life because they realize they cannot possibly escape Samsara in this life time. If you're a person of great capacity, any path out of 84000 will liberate you. Buddha states that in the Age of the Right Dharma, one can obtain liberation through keeping the precepts. Age of Semblance Dharma: liberation through Zen meditation. Degenerate Age: liberation through Pureland practice.

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