Most people, because they haven't looked, have no idea where "realization" comes from. They'd say: "Thought does not lead to realization - realization must come FIRST". That's right, realization does come first, but "FIRST" is a moment, and a moment can be W-I-D-E. Much wider than ordinary consciousness knows, because higher consciousness expands and contracts NOW.
That's why consciousness is a place. You step into. And step out of.
Consciousness, is the center of a dense forest of unknown dimension. Everything perceived, is enlightened, and a reminder and proof, that everything ELSE still exists. The trees in the ground, the leaves in the trees, the waving of the wind, the singing of the birds, all signal the health of flora & fauna everywhere.
Focus on the external, rather than focussing on the internal. Expand your conscious view, rather than localizing it, vocalizing it.
This is the trip back home, back to Paris.