I answered a question on Quora and I felt that I also share and add to the answer here.
The precise question was:
Is spiritual awakening an instantaneous process or is it gradual?
It is often said that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. I like to re-phrase that slightly by saying that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Not many of us know this especially in our early human experience (childhood) and it may be that some humans do not ever realise this until they die of the human form.
However, let’s move past how spiritual awakening starts or is realised as a human, as that is a topic in itself, and move to us knowing that we are awakening spiritually.
With having a knowing that we are awakening spiritually and if we are spiritual beings then we are simply awakening to what we are.
And, if what we are is not human beings but spiritual beings, we must then know, discover or define what the human and non-spiritual elements are so that we can somewhat define the human aspect of our experience and also the spiritual aspect of our experience.
If the human aspect of our experience is defined as being the material and physical then the spiritual aspect is obviously the non-material and non-physical.
As most humans would say that humans are physical beings then, as above, if we are actually spiritual beings then, the everything the mind is and contains that defines us as humans will struggle and put up somewhat of a fight that we are humans and not spiritual beings.
And, if spiritual awakening starts later in the lifespan of a human, the conditioning, beliefs, and desires that a mind can develop over time can create that fight and initially slow the awakening of being a spiritual being.
The word slow somewhat introduces the concept of time and hence spiritual awakening happens over time and hence becomes a gradual process.
That’s the briefest way I can put it from my own experience of “having to awaken” and if you are interested, I am putting together a course and support for any interested in spiritual awakening. Click here.
Adding to that I would like to say that there have been people such as Eckhart Tolle more recently who had what I would describe as a quantum leap in spiritual awakening. “It” happened to him one morning where, as far as I am aware, he lost most of the thoughts and internal chatter of the mind. Even then it took a few years and meeting spiritual teachers for his mind to realise what happened.
Even then it took a few years and meeting spiritual teachers for his mind to realise what happened, and as far as I am aware, his spiritual journey continues.
So again, this somewhat confirms that spiritual awakening is a gradual process.
However, from my own experience on my journey, I can say that spiritual awakening is highly personal to the individual and each may have their own quantum leaps, apparent non-movement in awakening, and everything in between.