While being an apparent person, the ego is still in play, and no matter how long one searches, realization will not take place until there is some form of surrender. The surrender is a loud cry, an acknowledgment, "I can't do this!"
This is why there has been a very long tradition of the need for a teacher, a guru. And if one pays attention to the great teachers, one can frequently hear them express gratitude to their teacher for their realization. Sometimes expressed as "By the grace of my guru."
Of course, the teacher, the guru, does not take any such compliments personally, for he is Aware of the Impersonal Self --Awareness Itself.
Surrender is thus the best explanation I can come up with as to why one phone call to Charlie Hayes, put me over the edge.
Was I ripe, yes. Was I ready to surrender, yes. It was the intention of surrender and the action that followed, the call, that did me in. And so the tradition of surrender continues.
Below are two statements made by American teachers regarding this subject. The tradition, obviously is not simply one for the Far East. It seems to be universal, and applicable here in the West as well.
The Procedure Toward Awakening - by by Alfred Pulyan
The student realizes that "awakening" or "realization" will never come unless at least once the student has surrendered the "boss-concept" of ego or self, the idea that it is a Supreme Court in itself, self-sufficient, "Captain of My Soul" (as Henley boasts & poor Bertrand Russell squeaks after him) ---
Since the student is seeking to realize "that" to which he is subordinate, second-in-command, it is obvious he must lower his flag, admit his lower status, at some time.
The "Law of the Ladder - by Franklin Merrell-Wolff
The law of the ladder says that you can only learn from people one rung above you; you can only teach one rung below you. If you reach down too low, they pull you down by the hair of the head. They crucify you. And if you reach up too far, the guy on the second rung above looks like an idiot to you. You can't comprehend him.