The feeling that one is constantly one step away from enlightenment: does it have a Buddhist term for it? Pejorative or otherwise.

So I've heard of beginner's mind, but I doubt it covers it.

  • My understanding of 'enlightenment' is similar to awakened: beyond ego and self-view. Prior to that is what I call the Neo state: a self but with ego not operating. I am not aware of any 'official' designation for this state, but it is observable and needs a name.
    – user2341
    Mar 4, 2018 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


That feeling correlates to different mental states. For instance, if you believe yourself to be privileged because you (unlike others) are only one step away from enlightenment, then the basic affiliated mind is one of 'pride'.

However, if it stems from your aspiration to enlightenment, and your aspiration itself is rooted in renunciation where you - having recognised the universal pervasion of the three marks of existence - are thereby determined to make use of every moment of your entire being to achieve liberation (and, in the Mahayana, all beings) then that feeling is of great benefit, and is a mark of 'effort'. The 'three efforts' in Mahayana (not disparate from Right Effort in the eightfold path) are:

  1. Unflagging energy in enlightening activity
  2. Unfailing confidence in enlightening activity
  3. Complete joy in enlightening activity
  • good answers! you might want to elaborate on 'privileged', i mena it could perhaps help! cheers
    – user2512
    Feb 28, 2018 at 16:43
  • There's a topic here about "pride": How are 'conceit' and 'identity-view' not the same? (though maybe from a different tradition/lineage than Konchog's). Part of the answers there is that "pride" includes comparing yourself, "I am better" and/or "I am worse". Perhaps may be that as well as "privileged" it would also be a mark of "pride" if you believe yourself to be inferior or disadvantaged because you (unlike others) are still always a step away?
    – ChrisW
    Feb 28, 2018 at 22:43
  • I guess I'd assume the feeling being describing is craving (for enlightenment) and personality-belief (I am or I am not enlightened), maybe restlessness and so on; but maybe you're thinking of something else. I think that beginner's mind (I think that's from Zen, a different tradition) is seen as a good thing.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 28, 2018 at 22:52
  • 1
    @ChrisW, yes "beginner's mind"(openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions) are essential. But 'one step away' can lead to problems as well as benefits, which is what I (rather poorly) attempted to express. If we spend our bus journey thinking that we may be about to reach the depot, we may easily lose enthusiasm when we don't arrive as quickly as we hoped. However, it is only by staying on the bus that we can reach the depot - and feeling connected to the depot, feeling 'it's where I am going' - which is implicit in the OP - is not such a bad way to be for a sincere practitioner, right?!
    – Konchog
    Mar 1, 2018 at 7:55

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