From Association To Enlightenment | Reclaiming Zen

From Association To Enlightenment

What Is Enlightenment?


Enlightenment has many different definitions. In the West the Age of Enlightenment refers to the philosophical movement of the 17th and 18th centuries. But in Buddhism it means something else entirely. Making it all a little but more confusing the word enlightenment has been translated into a number of different Asian words that do not all mean the exact same thing.

Japanese scholar D.T. Suzuki translated enlightenment to the Japanese word satori, derived from satoru – ‘to know’.This lead to enlightenment being seen as an experience of insight, seeing the true nature of reality. Although this is somewhat correct the definitions have distorted the definition of enlightenment. Many zen teachers and texts teach that enlightenment is not a single experience that we have in the moment it is a permanent state of being.

Enlightenment includes the ability to separate from the ‘self’. We are often drawn to things that satisfies our ego and repulsed by things that harm it. Overtime this means we begin to live in an egocentric manner and step further away from enlightenment.

To achieve enlightenment we need to be focused on gathering only the knowledge that is relevant.

Bodhi is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means awakening and this can also be translated into enlightenment. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi is associated with the Four Noble Truths and perfect insight.

In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhi is associated with sunyata which is the perfection of wisdom. This is the teaching that all phenomena are empty of self-essence. This is that everything is always in a state of change, we are neither real nor not real. It is the understanding of a permanent non-dual outlook in which all things are inter-related.

In Vajrayana, enlightenment can come all at once in a single moment of transformation. Every event in our life can be seen as fuel for transformation into enlightenment. With this it is believed that we are all already enlightened in a state known as Buddha Nature, our task is not to attain enlightenment but to realize it.

Here at Reclaiming Zen we like to view enlightenment as a state of perfect knowledge. This is the knowledge and understanding of relative existence and ultimate existence. This is an understanding of the way the world appears to us, our connection to one another and the universe along with the true nature of this appearance. Enlightenment is the state at which we become fully mindful of this in every moment without being consciously aware.

What Is Association?


Associations refers to the mental connection between events, concepts or mental states.

In Cognitive Psychology association can refer to the bond between two thoughts or ideas. The psychological phenomena occurs and will often bring to mind the other.

In Behavioral Psychology an association is known as a learned connection between a stimulus and a response or two stimulus.

We can make both positive and negative associations and as creatures of habits we often make these associations without even realizing and quickly become accustomed to them.

There is a wide range of psychological research looking into associations and how we create these connections. Associations have been used in business, advertising, education and psychological practices for decades. Learning how to use association within our lives can help us to harness the power of our brain and use it to benefit our daily living.

Why Connect Enlightenment and Association?


You might be wondering what these two things have in common and why we are even writing about them.

Here at Reclaiming Zen we want to spread a more mindful, relaxed and zen lifestyle for everyone. Each of our products holds a purpose and we only source items that we truly believe to be of spiritual value, with the hope that they will hold a place in your life that brings you joy and happiness.

Associations can be created through ritual behavior, recognition and learnt connections. Enlightenment is reaching a state of being whereby you live mindfully without needing to be aware of doing so. Our aim is to combine these two important areas in order to help you along your spiritual journey.

Use Association To Encourage Daily Spiritual Practice!


How do we do this?

Each of our items is focused around zen living, we supply items from many spiritual areas. These include various chakra items, buddhist items, bohemian and new age products.

We incorporate many of these items into our own lives and we are really happy to see so many others doing the same thing. This does not however mean that you need crystals, wall hanging and ornaments in every corner of your home. Many individuals own only a few items but each is very special to them, others incorporate spiritual practice into their lives by building a shrine or altar that they can visit, or dressing in a certain way and expressing their spiritual being.

By surrounding ourselves with meaningful spiritual items we are reminded to live a spiritual and mindful life. In many Buddhist traditions individuals are often given a necklace as a gift that depicts Buddha, this necklace is meant to be worn as a reminder and symbol of the journey to enlightenment and the spiritual path they are taking.

The Reclaiming Zen Guide


The world is a busy and hectic place and we get that. At Reclaiming Zen we love to find ways of incorporating zen living into your busy lives. Rather than the daunting idea of changing your entire life we want to start with small ways in which you can incorporate spiritual practice and mindfulness into your day, no matter what your schedule is.

Bracelets are a great item to use for association and we are going to explain how. Once you have put on a bracelet it is there all day. We use our hands for so many things during the day and are often made aware of any bracelets we are wearing.

The Reclaiming Zen guide to using association only needs 4 things:

  1. A reason
  2. An item or focus point
  3. A meaning
  4. Awareness and will

A Reason

For many i’m sure your reasoning will be the same as ours, to live a more spiritually aware, mindful zen life. Your reason can be something very broad such as being present in every moment or it can be much more specific such as taking a deep breath. I personally wear my bracelet as a reminder to question where my mind is and center myself. 

An Item Or Focus Point

 Any item can be used but it is best to use something that you are going to see regularly and become consciously aware of.

 For this reason we like to use bracelets, but rings, necklaces and ornaments can also be used. I personally use my Handmade Tibetan Buddhist Lucky Knot Bracelets. I choose a color that matches my intentions are I wear it on my left wrist throughout the day. Click Here to Read more about our Handmade Tibetan Buddhist Lucky Knot Bracelets.

A Meaning

We find bracelets that will have a deep spiritual connection for you. This can be how they are made, the color, any symbols or engravings on them. For example if you are aiming to feel connected spiritually to universal power and feel whole you my wear a bracelet with the Aum symbol or one that is violet or silver in color.

Awareness and Will


Through awareness we begin to form connections. When wearing a bracelet there are many times we may become aware of it, such as when we open doors, type at a computer, reach for something or simply move our arm.

You may decide to say an affirmation or do something every time you are made aware of your bracelet. For example you could center yourself, question your current place in space and time or just mindfully ask yourself these simple questions:

Where am i and what position is my body in?

What am i doing?

What can i feel?

What am i aware of right now?


As time goes on the more often you do this the more often your brain will start thinking in this mindful way with ease and without the prompting. All you need is the conscious effort to begin questioning your brain and making these connections.

The aim is to be living this particular way without being prompted or even aware that you are doing so.

Comment below and let us know any ways that you encourage spiritual practice into your life!

Have a wonderful day and stay zen 🙂



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Reclaiming Zen

Reclaiming Zen

Combining ancient wisdom with modern mind, body, and spirit science to help you live a healthy zen lifestyle.


Every item is handpicked to boost your spiritual practice. These items are picked with meaning and we know they will have a purposeful place within your life. Take a look and see how you can combine ancient wisdom with modern mind-body-science.

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