Here’s Sri Nisargadatta’s story of how he became enlightened:
When I met my Guru, he told me: “You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense ‘I am’, find your real Self.” He said “…Go back to that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that.’ Your burden is of false self-identifications — abandon them all.”
My guru told me, “Trust me, I tell you: you are Divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done.”
I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me.
All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence.
And what a difference it made, and how soon!
My teacher told me to hold on to the sense ‘I am’ tenaciously and not to swerve from it even for a moment.
My Guru told me to attend to the sense ‘I am’ and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures.
Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am’, it may look too simple, even crude.
My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! Obedience is a powerful solvent of all desires and fears.
I did my best to follow his advice and in a comparatively short time I realized within myself the truth of his teaching.
All I did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am — unbound.
I simply followed (my teacher’s) instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being ‘I am’, and stay in it.
I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the ‘I am’ in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state.
In it all disappeared — myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me.
Only peace remained and unfathomable silence.
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj