A friend of mine was in dire straits long ago. Around the age of twenty he was using a lot of drugs and alcohol and he became psychotic. This went on for a couple of years. At the lowest point he reached, when his psychosis got too much to bear, he sat down somewhere in a park and said in complete desperation: “God, help!”
He says that right then he had an experience of spiritual enlightenment. Everything became like it was reflected in a mirror – unsubstantial. There was immense love. And he knew that the true nature of reality is eternally so.
After this experience the psychoses stopped. He stopped drinking and using drugs. He started eating foods from health stores only. He joined the Tibetan Buddhist movement, started meditating a couple of hours a day and attended long meditation retreats.
He continued that healthy, meditative lifestyle for 20 years. But he did not have an experience of spiritual enlightenment ever again.
So when he went completely downhill, doing everything that he was not supposed to do and didn’t try to get enlightened, the result of that was enlightenment. Subsequently he has done everything that he is supposed to do for 20 years – living healthy, doing retreats, trying to attain enlightenment – and the result of that is no enlightenment.
Maybe Grace cannot be earned...