The direct path to Enlightenment doesn't meander through sunny, spring meadows or traverse high, majestic mountain tops. Enlightenment isn't something bestowed by another nor is it typically a direct ascension from wherever you believe you might be. The direct path of awakening into the genesis of Enlightenment winds inward and downward. It is a transcendent coalescence of a deeper awareness that is consonant with a lonely, dark, systematic deconstruction of the personal world that you thought you knew.
The human experience is largely an output of a belief system created within conceptual reasoning. As each moment arises and passes faster than our conscious minds can process in real-time, aggregates of these moments are assimilated conceptually as images about a life we perceive and stories about a self with which we identify. These thoughts are passed along from moment to moment and from generation to generation.
The process of cracking conceptual reality tends to be brutal. It can be experienced as falling, then falling further, and falling again - hoping and praying that you will hit bottom soon. This is death - a destruction of one's egoic framework and everything in it, a release of attachments to the relative world and its insubstantial assets. It can be a harsh and frightening path towards the natural state of the human soul. Teachers and mentors may help or they may add to the confusion; either way, the path is journeyed alone through the shadows of your own dark nights. The spirit survives and, with careful effort and good fortune, the physical body might also. And, while you may anguish in your belief that you don't deserve it, you have earned every bit of it. It is your blessing and it is your time for your descent into darkness.
Ye who enter here, abandon thy fear.
The journey doesn't have to be difficult, but it is always devastating. Some leave the relative world more easily and gracefully than others, but no one leaves intact. One relinquishes the comforts we have grown used to and the patterns that have become familiar to us - friends, family members, worldly possessions are often abandoned; self identity is striped bare. Those who are faint of heart retreat until the force of the draw is irresistible - like gravity into a black hole. Ultimately, the seeker finds what s/he seeks - so, be aware of that for which you ask.
The journey is a purification of the soul via the shedding of karmic dust (c.f., Revealed). Fragments of relative world constructs pollute the mind and hide our basic nature. Beneath it, there is corrosion to be chiseled away bit by bit and atrophy that must heal. It's a process of letting go of everything. We let go of materialism as our basis of reality. We let go of our fixations on the superficial narratives we've created - our stories, our accounts of who we are. The path to enlightenment reaches down through the many layers of constructs, concepts, mental images and shadows to reach the soul of consciousness and awaken it into one's own true awareness. Finally, we locate the vast, empty void within us- we embrace the void, kiss the void - and dissolve into its pure, primal ocean of unbound wisdom.
In the end, one realizes that this was just another momentous step on the incredible journey. It was preordained and it was necessary. Awareness was liberated from bound consciousness and you embrace directly the pure, fundamental nature within us all. It is a new dawn.
Disclaimer: This blog reflects a single perspective. Trust your own experience - question it thorougly, but don't doubt it.