From the perspective of reality as such, nothing ever happens. Both of the above points of view are just that: points of view, mental concepts that arise and set with space-like awareness, which is the only reality. From the perspective of the individual body-mind-organism (itself an appearance within space-like awareness) the recognition of space-like awareness as the natural state and true nature of self, might be perceived as either absent, intermittent or permanent and consistent.
Stories and reports about ‘enlightenment’ and other spiritual events or states (and related concepts) vary greatly, and of course there is massive awe shovelling and endless projections (of adopted ideas about perfection and saintly-hood) going on with regards to the stories of enlightenment of the great sages, self-proclaimed masters, or even those who shun and avoid talking about the issue.
In the end, I am afraid, the whole issue is the ultimate anti-climax (or just another great disappointment). Who cares, really? What is all this need to work it all out mentally; to measure and define ‘spiritual progress’ and put ourselves (or others) on a scale of spiritual achievement. So we can delineate e ourselves, again? To compare our (assumed) ‘self’ – enlightened, deficient, defiant, or what not – to (perceived) others?
One thing is for sure: as long as we strive to know where we are on this scale, and care about where others are, we are still living a self-centred life revolving around an ongoing self-improvement project. And this is certainly not what the great sages have been pointing to in their (permanent or intermittent) wisdom.