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August 5, 2013: Enlightenment

There are several religions which believe in the concept of enlightenment. This concept is not always an easy one to grasp, and has been described in a variety of ways by a variety of teachers. If I were asked to describe this concept as it exists in Eastern religions such as Buddhism, I’d say it is the realization of the truth of existence. More than just an intellectual realization, true enlightenment is a transcendent state, one in which one easily puts things in perspective and stops placing the same value on things that are ultimately not significant.

Effaism has its own form of "enlightenment" called Animal Empathy Enlightenment. AEE is a realization of how we should and should not interact with the rest of the animal world. Those who have attained AEE exhibit a deep empathy and compassion for all animals, and realize that the life of all sentient beings should be respected. They realize the importance of helping other sentient beings and will go out of their way to do this. They realize that abusing animals, using them for our food, clothes, and entertainment, and abandoning pets, are all ultimately unacceptable. Although the focus of AEE is narrow, we believe that any definition of a greater enlightenment that does not include the above realizations is an incomplete one.

Those who have attained AEE are the living proof that one can indeed live an ethical life; proof that one can change and progress to the level of treating other animals fairly. Much like Buddhists, who believe that everyone has the capacity to become enlightened, we believe that everyone has the capacity to attain Animal Empathy Enlightenment. We believe that anyone who has attained this deep-seated empathy for other animals should not ignore this state of mind or take it lightly. The inherent positivity of this state of mind is a beautiful thing, one that is important to share, as long as this is done respectfully and wisely.

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