A conceptual realization of Enlightenment seems more accessible today than in the day of the Buddha. We know a lot more about the physiology of the mind, the biology of the body, and the physics of the material universe. Yet, with all this knowledge available to us, most people continue to live out their lives in an unawakened state. Our modern understanding of things is likely part of the problem because it deepens and broadens our conceptual grasp on our experience and interferes with the awakening process. Thus, while we are better-equipped to understand it, in many ways we are further away from experiencing it.
The terms Awakening and Enlightenment are useful primarily as conceptual demarcations that seduce the egoic mind to unwittingly release in the pursuit of a "better" experience - and, perhaps indirectly, for selling books and seats at workshops and retreats. The terms function as egoic traps that lead ultimately to the submission of ego in favor of direct awareness. I've described this transcendence of egoic consciousness as the Ordinary Awakening to recognize that there are still other awakenings that lie ahead. It is a significant milestone on the path, but not an end destination. Some teachers seem to equate it with Enlightenment - a term that is subject to definition, lineage and context within a sense of full realization. It seems clear that the Ordinary Awakening is merely Enlightenment Inchoate.
The shift to a perspective of direct and objective experience is nearly impossible while confronted by the conceptual illusions of a social sphere that remains asleep. Most serious seekers find it necessary to sequester themselves from the normal routine - often in extended solitary retreat of one form or another. However, unless one chooses to live out his/her life in a cave or monastery, one is then faced with the dilemma of how to re-enter the interactive world. It's a serious challenge to maintain the new perspective as one recognizes that the conceptual world has changed very little during the time one was away.
As the process unfolds in multiple dimensions, a deconstruction takes place, the perspective reorients and a new game is unveiled. Awareness is then able to entertain itself in an expanded realm that encompasses the old realm in a dance within the emptiness of its existence. The game is a cyclical flow from non-existence to existence and back to non-existence - from the Void to form and back to the Void. It's played wherever Awareness places its attention, where every thought is an energy to be manifested or dissipated by choice. Within a continuous stream of thought, it's a very interesting game - much more fun than the last one - and it seems worthy of waking up to play. It is there that one realizes the rudimentary nature of the Ordinary Awakening.
Disclaimer: Again, I'm writing from my reflections and inner wisdom rather than from academic, religious or philosophical authority. Please accept only what feels true and useful.
Final edits: 5/12/13
Images updated: 8/16/13