I would say you are right scott, and the sense in which the jhanas and breath are suffering is a different type of suffering - the kind ended in parinibbana not nibbana. I have had the same insight about the actual moments of pure knowing being interspersed with doubts and judgements, it is totally counter-intuitive to just reside in that awareness while the i-making is in operation, it seems that you are leaving yourself somehow vulnerable, there is often a sense of fear going along with it. A lot of the time when one attempts this there is a moment of awareness and then a thought "that wasn't so great" but the thinking was suffering, during the awareness there wasn't suffering.
When the awareness is continuous (fraction of a second to fraction of a second) then it can truly be recognized as the unbinding that it is, even as a memory because there is enough time for you to cognize its qualities.
Try remembering an embarrassing memory intentionally, no longer embarrassing, enlightened thinking as you said. The difference is a complete lack of cathecting. Now suddenly there might be the unintentional thought - was there really no suffering there? did I suffer? suddenly suffering is present again.
I believe I understand what you mean by 'being' the space in the dream and being the awareness, this is not the same as identifying with the awareness or the space of the dream, but the language of 'being' it will throw people who don't have an experiential understanding of it. One trap to watch out for though is taking an object within the awareness to be the awareness. The awareness is always something inferred, which is why you can't truly identify with it in a way that causes suffering even if the intuitive way to describe what you are doing is 'being it.' This is the deathless - it is the lack of dhammas (it can't be perceived directly, only inferred) which is aware of dhammas (phenomena).
more importantly though, notice that when you are thinking about this you are doing the opposite of it and making the doing of it more difficult to achieve. again, on understanding this the intuitive thing is to think about it, it will be counterintuitive every step along the way to actually do it. SO DO IT! Over time you will be more willing to go against instinct, this willingness comes from recognizing that the exciting "king of the world" or "enlightened master" thoughts are painful and that just being aware in the way you do indeed understand is far more freeing than you comprehend (until you can do it continuously.)
1 more thoughts before I stop enabling your effluent for becoming, now that you know how to practice directly, set a tough schedule and take the 8 precepts for yourself, if you have learned how not to suffer at least for short instants then you can do it despite the intensity of the instants of suffering (hunger, lust, loneliness, boredom, etc.)
(edited a few times for skillfulness)