What -is- enlightenment and how do we get it? A question that has plagued the minds of sincere and insincere seekers for a long time (since the 18th century or so) and is popping up on the blogosphere nowadays. Many things are easier to describe by what they are not, kind of like god. Enlightenment is not: Walking on water Being able to cause Jesus like miracles David Copperfield magic tricks Darren Brown Mind Tricks Being a Buddha meditating under a tree constantly in short: enlightenment has nothing to do with your current projected idea of what that entails.
The above things are skills, people. Not prerequisites for reaching the highest exaltation possible.
Enlightenment has, in relatively recent years here in the west become either something that we don't speak about since we are oh so postmodern and my experience might not be the same as your experience and everything is equally (un)valid, or we end up expecting previously unheard of proofs for our enlightenment in the form of "powers" or, simply, mythological levels of being. I'm going to let you in on a secret: Bullshit.
Children playing in the Sandbox pretending to go to work like their parents are a good metaphorical comparison. Remember doing that when you were 4-6 years old? Well, that is what most people are doing when they discuss enlightenment.
Also Sod Postmodern thinking. There are very clear levels of the path, no matter system, they can all be linked together and unless my experience is the same as yours there is something wrong with either your or my experience.
-How do we get it- We get enlightenment by accident if we are 1 in a million or by working for it using a system. There is a reason it is called the Great Work. This Working For It" can be done using an exoteric/esoteric religion, philosophy, meditation qi gung or a formal western or eastern mystery school, system of magick or initiatory Masonic body. I am aware that some people follow "their own path". This is usually reinventing the wheel or in the worst case bad scholarship and in the absolutely worst case simply laziness and system-hopping. Like someone doing half a semester of every course in University, but not completing a single one. When following a path, one can often judge its effectiveness by seeing whether or not the path/system delivers what it promises. It is as simple as that. Some systems promise several things that they deliver in stages, whereas other systems only offer one thing that they often, though not always, consider to be the highest achievement. One of the systems that are the easiest for this is laboratory - alchemy, as whatever happens inside the worker is reflected in the lab. (this is a simplistic explanation for the sake of it, people) Thus, if you have managed to make gold you have reached the final stage, and you have the stuff to prove it.
Some systems give what they promise. Others do not. Some systems promise to take you all the way. Other clearly state they will only take you half way there or simply give you better tools to be able to wander the way. But, please stop trying to equate a tool (like being a nice well rounded person) with being enlightened, or one of the stopping points (Tiphareth, extreme religiousness, having a solar helper spirit) with the destination.
Returning to the example of kids playing in the sandbox:
All of us do grow up and most of us can get a job. But what that job is and how we are as persons is individual. The fact that we are working (enlightened) is one thing, how we work, what we do for a job and what we are like is individual.
Now, go out and become adepts instead of speculating like kids and feeling bad that you can't hold down your dad’s job even though you are 6 and a half!