If you are serious about reaching enlightenment, you will reach it. What I have to say goes against some Buddhist teachings and will most likely be frowned upon by most who read this, but my hope is that something I say resonates with you and sparks the drive to continue on the path and not get discouraged. Reaching enlightenment is no small task, but it is certainly not as difficult as the Sutta you read makes it out to be.
Before I start with opinions, I need to share the hardest pill to swallow. I consider myself an Arahant, and have been living without suffering for the past two years. I also know many people personally who have also reached enlightenment, it is not as uncommon as you may first suspect it to be. Once you have awakened, it becomes fairly easy to identify who has also completed the path. There are specific ways that people speak about the unspeakable that are easy tells.
Now when I tell someone this though, their automatic response tends to be disbelief. I personally think this is because of exactly the situation you find yourself in now. You read a Sutta and you are so overwhelmed with rules and guidelines you think it must be impossible. I personally believe many Suttas, through translations and permutations over thousands of years, have accumulated unnecessary fluff. I think many of those who have translated the texts have not been enlightened themselves, and therefore have added verbiage that no longer retains the accuracy it once had. I also believe permutations have occurred that tended to add extravagance to the idea of enlightenment, setting unrealistic expectations that further alienates the reader from believing they have a chance at true freedom.
Everything I am going to say after this depends on you believing that my attainment is true. It will carry no weight otherwise. Just know that I write this post, exposing my experience and potentially bringing the wrath of others upon myself, for the tiny sliver of a chance that you may one day experience the same peace that is granted to those who's lives are truly blessed. I pray for nothing more than your liberation, for it is without a doubt the most beautiful and amazing thing that has ever happened to me.
First I plan to answer your question. Then, I will talk about my experience with enlightenment to see if my experience is something you desire. Finally, I will give my recommendations of how to proceed, so you can hopefully avoid many of the pitfalls I found myself in.
Now to finally answer your question, no, you do not need to "perfect" anything in order to reach enlightenment. Every moment you are aware is a moment that enlightenment is possible. Nirvana has no requirements to be seen. The main impediment we face that stops us from instantly becoming enlightened is the insane number of beliefs we hold without question. The linchpin belief being our belief in a separate self, the human being you presently believe yourself to be. Once it is seen in your own experience that the self does not exist, a domino effect occurs and enlightenment becomes inevitable.
Now here is the part where I try to set realistic expectations about enlightenment, but I expect those who have never experienced enlightenment to lash out at my crushing their dreams of what they hope and pray it to be. I only include this so that you can make an informed decision. It's easy to desire to walk the path if you are told you will be in a constant state of bliss and all your problems will go away. Unfortunately, that is not what enlightenment is.
Enlightenment is experienced from the human perspective as an end to all beliefs, a perceived balance in effort, and an unending peace. Enlightenment is experienced from the non-human perspective as complete unity and emptiness.
Our entire lives we exert so much unconscious effort propping up our belief systems. Samsara, or, the world we believe ourselves to live in, only exists because of these beliefs. Creating the universe takes a lot of effort, and its an effort we are so used to constantly exerting, we don't even notice its presence until its gone. Once all beliefs end for the first time, Nirvana is seen, and from there on out, there is an unending tranquility that you now will have access to, in all experience. This peace underlying all things will allow you to endure anything.
When all your beliefs end, so does the belief that you are a human being. Your experience becomes one of complete unity, seeing the universe as yourself. You will experience what you truly are, the totality of reality uninterpreted by beliefs. It is the holiest of experiences, and one I am eternally grateful to have been able to experience.
Just because the belief that you are a human being has ended does not mean your human experience stops. Your experience continues as it once did, but now with an added non-human component. Both logically at odds with one another, but coexisting perfectly. You will still experience things like sadness, frustration, and anger, but in a completely new light. Suffering is not a feeling or experience. Suffering is nothing more than energy exerted to satisfy aversion. When you are an Arahant, you will become sad and cry, but you will not be uncomfortable. You will get angry and yell, but be at peace. True freedom comes from the acceptance of all experience. As long as you want these experiences and not those, you will never be free. Any enlightenment description that highlights you being able to control anything is misguided. True freedom is in the complete relinquishing of control of everything. True freedom is in the full acceptance of anything that occurs. You do not need to change who you are to be free. You simply need to observe, without exerting the effort of interpretation.
Without getting into my life story, I can tell you it took me 6 years of searching to become an Arahant. I personally believe most of that time was wasted, wandering from teaching to teaching, trying to piece together what would help me, and what was just dogmatic beliefs. I think, if I had the correct resources from the beginning, I could have done it a lot faster. Enlightenment is possible for all who seek it. The hardest part of the path is discarding all the beliefs that hold us from seeing the Truth.
Now for my advice to you for how to move forward on the path. It's so easy to get stagnant. I have seen many spin their wheels for years making no progress, and I pray all who have read this far do not make the same mistakes that I did.
If you desire to be free, my highest recommendation is to find a teacher who has already walked the entire path. I have seen many waste so much time, learning from teachers who also believe the end goal to be an impossible task. An Arahant hillbilly would be more useful to you than a monk who has spent the last 60 years memorizing the Suttras.
If you can't find a teacher, I highly suggest you read this book:
It was written by an Arahant, for people confused or lost in the Suttas. It boils down what you need to most basic component. I fully attribute the final stages of my progress to reading this book. I couldn't recommend it more.
I hope this book of a post I have written you finds you well. To all who have made it this far, I have no doubt that you have the open-mindedness and ability to set aside your own beliefs that are infinitely helpful in reaching true freedom. I pray for nothing more than your liberation this lifetime.