Even in this world, and even now, there are said to be many hidden yogis or discreet yogis, called bepay naljor in Tibetan. It means those realized ones who are not generally recognized as great spiritual sages, but have deeply tasted the fruit of enlightenment, and are living it. Perhaps they are anonymously doing their beneficial activities here among us right now!
Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
Obsessive use of meditative disciplines or perennial study of scripture and philosophy will never bring forth this wonderful realization, this truth which is natural to awareness, because the mind that desperately desires to reach another realm or level of experience inadvertently ignores its basic nature that constitutes all experience.
We awaken to enlightenment by recognizing and fully realizing the primordially pure essence already present as our nature. That's how to be an awakened buddha. Even though the enlightened state is actually already present, imagining or forming a thought construct of enlightenment doesn't make you enlightened.
It's the same as when you are really hungry and you look at a plate of food and try to imagine what it taste like. Does it work to then imagine, "Mmmmm, I'm eating the food, I'm no longer hungry." You can think this for a very long time – forever, in fact – but it still doesn't dispel your hunger. Once you actually put the food in your mouth, it tastes delicious, and your hunger is satiated.
It's the same with experience. Experience only occurs in a direct way, in practical reality, not through a theory about taste. If your meditation practice is merely an exercise in imagining and keeping something in mind, it is only a theory, and not direct experience.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche