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» Liberty Enlightening the World: The Definitive American Icon

By Janet Hoffman on November 9, 2013


On July 4th 2013, the Statue of Liberty reopened after Superstorm Sandy had flooded Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor, making access to the public impossible.

The most iconic American symbol of enlightenment, a gift from France to the USA in 1886, the robed female figure represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. The French name for the colossal neoclassical sculpture is La Liberté éclairant le monde which, when translated, is Liberty enlightening the world.

The enlightenment and freedom that this statue symbolizes has been a goal of humanity throughout history. In the west, the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ as it is known, first began in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  It was characterized by the reformation of society through the use of reason and scientific thought.

The eastern view of enlightenment refers to an ‘awakening’ that transcends thought. Someone who is enlightened has realized the full potential of their mind.  Enlightenment is the recognition of the individual Self as the infinite basis of all that exists—the universal Self.

Throughout the ages, this state of Enlightenment had been considered very difficult to attain.  Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has overturned this misconception by showing that enlightenment is the most naturally normal state of life, available to everyone through the simple, effortless method of transcending thought. This is precisely what the Transcendental Meditation technique does. TM expands human awareness and enlivens the perception of the unified reality of life at the base of all diversity.

Extensive published scientific studies confirm significant improvement of health and brain functioning gained through TM meditation.  Research also shows how enlightenment may be understood and verified from a completely objective scientific point of view as the progressive refinement and development of total neurophysiological functioning, available to humanity from birth. Thus enlightenment, the full awakening of human consciousness, is now scientifically verified.

TM benefits include the subjective inner experience of illumination and freedom along with the clarity of mind and higher analytical thinking that result from improved brain functioning. With increasing numbers of the US population learning to meditate, La Liberté éclairant le monde will come to symbolize the fulfillment of both the Eastern and Western understanding of Enlightenment.



About the author
Janet Hoffman is the executive director of the Transcendental Meditation Program for Women Professionals in the United States