Complete and total realization occurs at the moment of the transmission of grace, but because you continue within a dream which believes in the dynamic of time and the fabric of the senses, you force your realization to unfold over time, and that’s why it seems to take longer. It happens instantly, in its totality, but because you hold on to the illusion of the appearance of the world, your realization unfolds over time.
Most often this occurs because people just can’t withstand an instant awakening. This is important to understand, because most of us are going to have our spiritual practice spread over time. You have to realize that you’re going to be doing this for the rest of your life. This is why it’s essential to adhere to a path with heart, so that you can go through the incredibly dynamic internal work and deal with its impact on your life.
Constant contact with the guru is an invaluable tool in this regard; it smoothes the rough edges, speeds things up, boosts your energy. As long as you can be in the company of your teacher, you should seek that. The opportunity to spend time with a teacher in a sustained way is an extreme form of good karma and surprisingly rare.