There are a lot of popular misconceptions about present moment awareness, otherwise known as "enlightenment".
There is something in human nature – a desire to glamourise, sanctify, objectify and idolise – that elevates people who have offered deep insights to the human race and create distance between them and the rest of us.
But these great ones have the exactly the same psychological, emotional, and physiological equipment as the rest of us. If one can do it so can we all – potentially. To put it bluntly – we all share the same basic equipment.
Put simply "enlightenment" means to be free of the effects of the mind, to be aware, to be present-moment-aware, and unencumbered with thoughts about the past or the future – just totally present. That's all.
The Buddha and some of his monks were out wandering one day and a man approached him and observed (I am paraphrasing slightly!): "What is it that's different about you guys- you walk, talk, chop wood, eat, sleep, use the bathroom – you seem just like the rest of us? "
The Buddha replied: "Yes, that is true – but when we walk, talk, chop wood, eat, sleep, use the bathroom we KNOW we do."
Jesus said (and again I paraphrase): "I can guarantee this truth with certainty, that unless you change and become like little children – who are unencumbered by thoughts of past or future and just live and enjoy the present moment – you will never enter the kingdom of mindfulness ".
[Quick biblical footnote – the "I AM" statements of God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament are statements of absolute present moment consciousness.]
The only difference between highly developed spiritual people and the rest of us is one of degree.
They have acquired or developed or been blessed with (however you choose to express it) the capacity to enter and maintain a mindful or present moment awareness state whenever they want to or need to and can do so at will for as long as choose to or need to – and then engage with what we conventionally refer to as the "normal thinking mind".
The key to this is having the capability to move freely between these states at will and NOT to become stuck in either state, and this capability is the product of the practice of mindfulness.
States become stages become sages
The initial state of "waking up or awakening or transformation or basic realization that things are not what we thought and that there is more" is a state that may only last briefly – but once we have experienced it, we can't unlearn it.
And with practice, dedication and discipline that state becomes a more frequent part of our experience until eventually we enter it as a stage – where we can stop thinking at will – and access transcendent states of awareness at will.
True wisdom occurs when we draw daily guidance and inspiration from this source rather than the output of our thinking minds.