Q; What is enlightenment?
A; i have no idea.
Actually, enlightenment is a word that i prefer not to use, as it carries a huge load of stories. It means different things to different people.
For me, it is a mystery.
It may or may not exist as a description of experience, but it certainly doesn’t exist as a concrete noun.
i prefer to use the word “awakening” or “liberation” as they describe something that is tangible for those no longer seeking.

First a caveat…
Everything that i say is from the perspective of this organism (with the vince label)

Q; So, what is enlightenment?
A: It’s An idea. A story.
There are many variations of it, especially in the pop zen genre, but I have to say that I have no idea if any of them are accurate.

What I can talk to, is the experience that I call ‘waking up’, or ‘liberation’.
These terms come from the analogy of being asleep or sleepwalking, and the analogy of being captive or being a prisoner.

What is sleepwalking?

It can be described from two perspectives.
The first from the perspective of doing it. (although it would be more accurate to say that “it was doing you”)
The second from the perspective of observing it.
From the first perspective there is no alternative. If you are doing it, then you probably don’t know that you are. There is no ‘being aware’, so there can be no being aware of being aware of what is happening.
From the second there appears to be options.
To be able to observe it there has to have  been a shift. A recognition of an alternative.
From this perspective what occurs is that a realization that sleepwalking was happening. That realization usually happens after the event. (although it can happen during or even before that event)
If you can capture the moment that you realize that you recognized being lost in expressing the content of a thought stream (story) – then bottle it.
That moment is extremely valuable.

If we go to a movie knowing that the story is fictional, we voluntarily suspend disbelief in order to share emotions with the plot. Here (in ‘real’ life) there is the option to do this or not. (to varying degrees)
A sleepwalker doesn’t have these options. They believe the plot to be real (actual) They are a prisoner to their beliefs. They take their beliefs to be facts.

The most glaring example of this is the belief that what we observe in ‘the world’ or ‘other’ people, is what is actual.

This, in spite of science of the brain/mind telling us that we really relate to an image that form in our brain.
“It’s really important to understand we’re not seeing reality,” says neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College in Canada. “We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.”

Most of the time, the story our brains generate matches the real, physical world — but not always. Our brains also unconsciously bend our perception of reality to meet our desires or expectations. And they fill in gaps using our past experiences.”
some examples of our brain fooling us..  (scroll down when you get to this page)

Just as we only know that we have been asleep when we wake up, we only know that we have been a prisoner of our beliefs when we are no longer captive.

When this happens we have the option to voluntarily suspend our disbelief for practical purposes, such as communicating with a ‘sleepwalker’.
So, the question is “Why wake up?” Isn’t the world ok with 99.9% of the population sleepwalking?

Over at LiberationUnleashed, there have been 2952 ex prisoners in the past 10 years. So if we say that there might be 10,000 or even 100,000 awake beings at the moment, then it is 1/80000 = 0.00125% of the population that isn’t deluded by beliefs. No wonder that there is so much shit happening.

What is being a prisoner?

Dostoyevsky said “The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.”

We start to ‘train’ our offspring from the moment they are born. (maybe even before that)
Using repetition, we impress upon a baby the label (name) that it will carry for life.
We want it’s first word to be “daddy” or “mummy” (mommy if American)

We discourage (or even punish) it from crying.

i point these thing out as an example of how the ‘control’ is implemented.

It is done using Peer pressure
As a baby, it’s done fairly gently.. “Ssh litte baby.”
As a toddler it’s a little more aggressive “Be quiet! You’re too noisy.”
As a 6 yr old, the lessons get role specific. (This one is showing my age) “Children should be seen and not heard.”

That’s the kind of conditioning from parents.
From peers at school/mates/etc, it’s approval/disapproval that shapes us.

Then there is being a prisoner to habits.
Anyone who has attempted to break a habit knows the strength of that cage.

Here is a link to a great description of what waking up is.
It is my mate Paul at a zoom meetup of seekers and guides.