Here is a very simple way of thinking about this process:
Recognize vs. realize
It’s possible to recognize what’s here, to notice it, to have a glimpse. And it’s possible to realize it, to live it, to deepen in lived familiarity with it.
Nature of reality vs. nature of illusion
What can be recognized and realized is the nature of reality, what we – this field of experience – really are, aka (a) presence, love, awareness, (b) all of this as this field of appearances, and (c) capacity for all of it.
And we can recognize and realize the nature of illusion, how the world of apparent separation etc. is created through taking images and thoughts as true, and all the dynamics around this.
As a whole vs. parts
The nature of reality and the nature of illusion can be recognized and realized globally, as the whole of this field of experience.
And it can be recognized/realized by the different parts of me, the subpersonalities, the different aspects of this psyche. This happens through holding satsang with these parts, as they surface to find their own liberation, to realize the nature of reality and illusion for themselves, to recognize and realize what they really are.
Milestones vs. ongoing
There are some common milestones in recognizing/realizing the nature of reality and illusion, and it’s also ongoing. There is always further to go. Reality keeps opening up to itself. There is (most likely) no end point.
I lumped presence, love and awareness together above, although they can be differentiated. Presence is more at the soul level. Love can be at the soul level, or at the awareness/awakeness level. Awareness/awakeness is yet something slightly different, and it can appear as presence/love or not. And capacity is what appears as all of this.
Another differentiation here is recognizing the nature of reality/illusion as “other” and then as what I am. Sometimes, it appears as “other” first, and then as what “I” am.
As so often, what these words point to can sound theoretical and abstract if it’s not alive in awareness, and it’s very easy to notice when it is.