Awakening can seem unattainable and the road to such a state so long.
Once there's inner alignment with the Beloved it doesn't matter if awakening comes in the next instant or in several lifetimes...at least the full-blown version.
What other version is there?
As ego-mind's power abates we can more directly sense-feel-know awakening's presence.
Meaning there are degrees of it?
Depths of it where grace, mercy, urgency, effort and patience all mean different things as awareness grows.
Awareness of what's already there?
Right, of what's always there, a world without illusions waiting to be grasped as such.
What of the idea that we're already awakened but just don't know it?
There's the rub...the not-knowing it part. You can say time doesn't really exist, that limited ego-mind doesn't really exist, and from the viewpoint of one who has realized Self that is surely true.
Are you saying these limits do exist?
Could say they exist as Self's shadow. They may not have real substance yet have real function.
Training wheels for our consciousness.
Then in the meantime we're just part of the process, this journey leading beyond ourselves?
Yes, consciously or not. At some point we can adopt a positive/inspired attitude of serving what is truly real. An attitude of inner joy at being on track, in inner alignment, regardless of results. Being happy with becoming less, knowing that in the lessening of one's conditioned state of self-absorption there is real gain.