Awakening and enlightenment are two of the most objectified and misunderstood signposts along the spiritual path. Often construed as something outside yourself, many true and genuine seekers mistake the process of gaining spiritual insight as a process of looking for the missing element in their own being. Yet awakening cannot occur to anything outside the realm of what already exists in your own being. Or else, by definition, it would not be awakening.
Do not think that the spiritual journey is one in which you will finally at long last gain access to a realm that you have otherwise been forbidden to enter. Allow yourself to understand the process of your awakening as more like making friends with an aspect of yourself that has always been with you, but that you simply have been unaware of until now. It is not that this is a new part of yourself, although it may surely seem new or be experienced as such. It is instead a part of yourself so natural and so totally you, yet so far away from what you have previously known. Not because it is not of you, but because it has simply not been awakened until the moment it is.
In a perfectionistic sort of way, you may believe that enlightenment is a kind of place where you will one day arrive if you do all the right things, a conceptual heaven that hangs in the mist like a prize for a good day's work. This too is not the case although you work patiently and persistently. In your search you may look to your teachers for inspiration; yet each being is different and you must find your own way. The greatest teachers know and respect the differences apparent in their students and their peers, leading with compassion, integrity and humility.
In the teachings of the Buddha, it is said that the process of taking refuge is a process that links you to the ability to have faith in the quality of enlightenment that is evident in your own everyday wisdom. While the greatest spiritual teachers inspire you, it is in the light of your own consciousness that you find a real and lasting inner peace.
There is often the temptation to search outside for what you must find within. There is the fascination of eastern culture, the dream of gods and goddesses outside your culture, and the captivating illusion of escape. And there is also the possibility to awaken to a new world as you are in the here and now. William blake writes of this process, "To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower/ Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour." The road is always to paved to lead you back home again.