Enlightenment is an understanding. It may be an understanding of the universe, of the world, of a people or of oneself. Many see body modification as a path to enlightenment. Exposing oneself to pain, segregating oneself from the rest of society, and willfully and consciously changing one's physical destiny can help one to gain some perspective on life.
While many of those seeking enlightenment through body modification go about it in a casual way (by mixing that purpose with personal adornment), there are also those who use ritual and intense ordeals to formalize the process. It should be noted that this is not a modern occurrence. Thousands of cultures from around the world have used body modification as a way of gaining spiritual perspective. Many of the ideas for modern Western rituals are inspired by respectful observation of other cultures' religious or social rites.