Enlightenment is the realisation that you are not a lone ego lost in the world of form, but truly, and deeply, the ever-present awareness of all aspects of reality.
Ego in this sense means, perhaps, personality, or personhood shall we say; the idea that you are a person and that you have to battle against other “people” in order to ensure survival. Notice your reaction, both inner and outer, when someone argues against you or points out a shortfall. It is the nature of the ego to defend mental positions as this is what it is made out of. The ego is made out of memories, of feelings, of opinions, of hopes and dreams. If someone is to belittle or undermine one or some of these things, the ego feels a sense of loss.
But what would happen if your opinion were to disappear? Or your hopes for the future changed drastically? You would still be here. In fact, in this respect, you can see that all of the above could be obliterated and you would still be here.
Let’s take an example. Imagine a man named George. George is George no matter what, these are his values and his memories and no one can take that away from him. But what if George had a bump on his head and forgot most or all of his life? Would he still be George?
Now let’s say that poor George had a complete personality change because of the bump on the head. His friends and family don’t recognise his character. Is he still George? His opinions and the activities he engages in are different to before but he is still him, right?
What if George then decides to reinvent himself and change his name to Steve? Is he still the same person? We can see in this way that all these things we believe to be us can radically change, however unlucky poor George/Steve has been. What is left that was unchanged?
This is what enlightenment points to. It takes you out of the normal ego-based reality and directs you towards the unifying element of our experience: awareness.
There are many stories, books, films that are indirectly about the journey of enlightenment, although some are overtly about it. Whether L. Frank Baum intended to chronicle enlightenment in such a way when he wrote “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, he certainly did so anyway.
Dorothy’s quest to find her way home is much like one’s search for enlightenment. Like Dorothy, you recognise you are not where you are supposed to be, or, rather, who you are supposed to be. At first you become acutely aware that the life you have been leading is somewhat false.
So you go off, following whichever Yellow Brick Road speaks to you the most (whether this is Zen Buddhism, Christian Mysticism, Sufism, Non-Duality etc) and along the way you develop some important aspects of yourself and face increasingly difficult challenges to your desired outcome.
Like the Scarecrow, you find your brain (your mental clarity is increased); like the Tin Man, you find your heart (your love for yourself, others and the world deepens and unfolds); like the Cowardly Lion, you find your courage (you find your voice and are confidently able to speak your truth).
Like Dorothy, you battle with your demons and defeat them through compassion and strength. You find out the Wizard (guru) is just another person who seems bigger than he is because of the strength of his voice. And most importantly, you find you have had the power within you the whole time, so you laugh, click your red shoes together, awaken from your dream and return back to Kansas. Well, kind of.