It's possible that having my Capricorn Sun and Aquarius Mercury in the 3rd house of learning draws me to the dispassionate communication of ideas, which is also known as the study of philosophy. And perhaps it is my Neptune in the 12th house of spiritual conscious that attracts me to the philosophers of enlightenment, such as Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).
Kant was a German philosopher who, put simply, argued that one's personal experience of some things is much more real (and therefore more valuable and true) than the acceptance of the second hand and necessarily filtered or colored reports of other people's thoughts and experience.
In other words, believe what you perceive and feel, not what you're told.
The mistake many of us make is in thinking that enlightenment is something external to ourselves that can be attained if we get enough answers, or ascend far enough above our human sufferings. But Kant was saying that enlightenment is not "out there" to be found or followed. It is within us, to be uncovered and engaged.
Enlightenment Starts with Questioning
Enlightenment starts with continually refining and expanding the questions that we ask ourselves and the Universe -- and then questioning the answers that we discover until our soul's vibrations prove the wisdom of one answer versus another. But don't stop questioning even then, for it is the process of examining what we think we know that uncovers enlightened knowledge.
Develop Your Own Spiritual Perspective
If you were raised with a dogmatic religion, questioning its beliefs may be a good place to start your questioning in order to develop your own spiritual perspectives. Determine your own yardstick as to what you will hold as sacred or divine. Ferret out what your soul's core beliefs really are, untainted by others' preaching, ranting, or promises of salvation if only you comply with their formula -- which is, in the end, spiritual blackmail.
Accept Fallibility and the Importance of Changing Your Mind
Ultimately, full knowledge of the sacred secrets of the Universe are unknowable, which is why some spiritualities refer to The Great Mystery instead of to a limited human-like supreme being. There is no sin in believing simple metaphors when you are young, and changing your mind about your beliefs / adopting more sophisticated explanations as you grow older. No one is born enlightened. Changing your mind is a necessary part of the enlightenment path.
Detect How Ego is More at Play Than You'd Like
Having an ego is like having a skeleton, skin, hair, and the 5 senses -- it is always there. When you feel good about doing something nice or helpful for something else, it's your ego that feels gratification. When you fall into arguing about being right about a fact or a choice, that's your ego defending your fearful fragility about being wrong or getting what you think you need to be whole.
Ego takes many disguises. Choosing not to force your sense of what is right on someone else, but inwardly maintaining a sense of superiority about your rightness and your resistance to be combative is also also an ego defense.
With ego, since we can't get fully rid of it, the goal is to be aware of how much of our motivations are coming from ego.
Don't Run from Painful Experiences
What we relate to / characterize as painful are often enlightenment lessons that we are working hard to avoid. Painfulness often lives in avoidance because we perceive a loss will occur, and we fear being unable to recover. The lesson is in realizing that things are supposed to be different, that we must learn through letting go of desire and attachment, and that the Universe is giving us a nudge to get back on our personal enlightenment path. Don't run from painful experiences -- find the lesson for spiritual growth embedded within them.
Trust Your Inner Senses
Too many of us were taught not to trust our bodily felt sensations. They would lead us astray, they were the tricks of satan, we were told. It's so important to understand that that advice came from a suspicion of the independent self and a flesh-hating philosophy that viewed "carnal" desires and the sensations of the body as provoked by some devilish force of evil. And what was born from that philosophy was guilt, confusion, and an inability to understand the empowered wisdom and enlightened communications of our own inner senses. To be on a path of enlightenment, we must reclaim our inner senses, for that is where our most valuable truths and warnings are to be found.
Laugh at Yourself
Laughter is an amazing energy. It opens both heart and mind, and connects us to other souls in a shared atmosphere of good will. Laughter dispels fear, and helps us to disinvest in attachment to differences. Laughing at your own illusions, desires, perceived needs, and ego is one of the best possible ways to re-ignite your own inner light and re-set your personal compass on the path to enlightenment.
Do you know the term sacred cow? It refers to the beliefs or customs that are considered too serious or important to be criticized or questioned. But many of our beliefs are truly quite ludicrous. If you think you don't have anything to laugh about, perhaps dare greatly to laugh at your sacred cows -- for it is said that sacred cows make the best burgers.