There are so many people that claim to be awakened. So many. But for most there has been no awakening at all, just an understanding they got from someone else, like Tony Parsons, Sailor Bob, Pundaji, Ben Massaro, Lisa Cairns, Balsekar, or many others.
The message of no self, no separate self, emptiness, presence or newness can be a message that you hear from someone else, or it can be an achievement earned after years of meditation and inward investigation.
The former talk about no separate self and how that insight has changed them, but it is only book knowledge for them.
When you receive the message of No-Self, or no separate self, because you have dwelled in the inner emptiness, the Void, for some years, and that Void has come alive with light, all objects in your reality appear hollow and unreal, and one day you have a Satori realizing Unity Consciousness without a separation into inner and outer awareness.
That is a real awakening because your awareness has expanded, and by expansion, has realized that Consciousness is not just a present awareness of external and internal objects embedded within an inner and outer emptiness, but that Form and Emptiness interpenetrate, and neither is real or unreal without the other.
As a helpful aide, I recommend reading “Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness” by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rimpche. This text could help you quicken your mediation depth.
You see, the bevy of 20 and 30 year old teachers really have nothing but an insight into Non-Self and not its constant experience as a reality that is like a hologram. They are just ordinary people with a one-trick insight: Just realize there is no Self, nothing is real. There is no Self to be realized or awakened, just dwell in your present experience.
But this level of understanding has to be transcended. You have to realize yourself as the knower of both the known and unknown, the world, and the Unmanifest within which the world is created and destroyed.
In this realization, you know that you are altogether beyond Consciousness. Consciousness just comes to you and covers you, and thus creates the world until you have the Emptiness to see the hollowness of the world and Consciousness.
You, who experiences Consciousness, recognizes that it is made from a different "material" than you. You lie in a different dimension, so to speak, entirely separate from Consciousness which is only an illusion.
These real awakenings are experiential first, and then become insight or knowledge. The first stage of awakening outlined initially above, is not a real awakening, it is only grasped and internalized second-hand knowledge of what the first awakening is really like.
Lastly, there is a return to the body and world. One becomes awakened to one’s own inner energies experienced with one’s own body as a separate energy body, called the Subtle Body or Energy Body. Within that body is the felt sense of ‘I Am’. But you cannot become deeply aware of the I Am until you have returned enough to the body to become a complete master of emotions and the Energy Body’s energies.
This is called the path of the Saints. This is the path Nisargadatta treaded before he became a Jnani and denied the reality of I Am. This is the path of Tantra, Kashmir Shaivism, of bliss, joy, aliveness and overflowing energies.
One cannot be called spiritually advanced unless they have walked both paths: Emptiness and the Absolute, and Love, Bliss, and Shakti.
The only other teachers that I have read that explicitly suggests this is Jan Essman, who states one can have walked the path of the Saint first, or of Emptiness first, and Bernadette Roberts who was a saint first then a Jnani. But one has to walk both to be truly advanced.
Nisargadatta walked both: first the path of the Saint which he describes in his first book, “Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization,” and then the path of the Unmanifest of his later talks, crystalized in "Consciousness and the Absolute." In his first book he talks of energies and the need to master them, attaining Krishna Consciousness, along with devotion to Krishna and his guru. Later he talks about going beyond the manifest self which he considered an illusion.
Bernadette Roberts too walked first the path of joy, bliss and the saint, and then of the disappearing of herself into emptiness, the Void without love and bliss.
If a teacher only talks about everyday life, and not of inner things, like the vast inner emptiness, or the Light of Consciousness, or of a holographic universe, or of unending bliss and joy, of internal healing energies, and streams of colored prana within their bodies, they really are just teaching you about the first step towards Unity Consciousness through the disappearance of boundaries by seeing through concepts and stories. But they cannot give that experience of awakening to you because they do not live it. They are teachers of that which they do not know.
You just have received second hand knowledge of your true inner life, which is no more than philosophy.
I recommend you go with teachers who have spent a long, long time in one tradition and mastered it, like a confirmed Zen master, or Tibetan Lama, or a Shaivite master like Sw. Chetanananda, or Shinzen Young, a fellow monk from IBMC. Otherwise you are just kind of foolish, falling for instant enlightenment teachings.
The youngsters are popular because they are shallow, and tell people there is no need to struggle for years for awakening, because you are already awakened.
Once, during one of Robert’s Satsangs, a fellow asked Robert, “Why should I follow you and meditate and practice Self-inquiry, if I don’t exist and everything is an illusion?”
Robert responded, “Then wake yourself up now! Realize it now!” The guy was still with Robert three years later when Robert left for Sedona.
There are no ancient traditions that promise instant enlightenment, or 3-5 second enlightenment. This is the disease of current Neo-Advaita, secondary to the massive number of people Papaji said were enlightened. Ramesh Balsekar too fostered this misunderstanding by placing a very low bar of merely understanding Nisargadatta's Jnana teachings, and not focusing at all on self-inquiry, meditation, working with energies, love, surrender, and bliss.
If you think the Self is an illusion, all practices are moot. And, if you think the Self is an illusion, you will never, ever, find it.