Question: There are some paths which speak of the goal as enlightenment, and there are other paths which speak of the goal as God-realisation. What is the difference between enlightenment and God-realisation?Sri Chinmoy: Full enlightenment, complete and all-illumining enlightenment, is God-realisation. But sometimes, when a seeker is in his highest meditation, he gets a kind of inner illumination or enlightenment, and for half an hour or an hour his whole being, his whole existence, is illumined. But then, after an hour or two, he becomes his same old self; he again becomes a victim to desire and undivine qualities. Enlightenment has taken place, but it is not the Transcendental Enlightenment which occurred in the case of the Buddha and other spiritual Masters. That kind of all-fulfilling, all-illumining enlightenment is equivalent to God-realisation. God-realisation means constant and eternal enlightenment, Transcendental Enlightenment. When we get God-realisation, automatically infinite illumination takes place in our outer as well as our inner existence.
The enlightenment that is spoken of here in the West and also in Japan is only a temporary burst of light in the aspiring consciousness. After a short while it pales into insignificance, because there is no abiding reality in it. Abiding reality we will get only with constant, eternal and Transcendental Illumination, which is God-realisation.
Sometimes when we speak of enlightenment, we mean that we have been in darkness about a particular subject for many years and now we have inner wisdom, or now that particular place in our consciousness is enlightened. But this is just a spark of the boundless illumination, and that little spark we cannot call God-realisation.
Sri Chinmoy, The summits of God-Life: Samadhi and Siddhi, Agni Press, 1974