Taken from http://venchinkung.com/how-ananda-became-enlightened/.
How Ananda became enlightened?
Ananda was the only one left at the time of the first council of Buddha’s own disciples who didn’t become an arhat. He was Buddha’s attendant. He heard every word that Buddha taught, and memorized them all, but he didn’t meditate much because he was too busy.
Some time after Buddha’s death, there was a meeting of all the arhats, but since Ananda wasn’t an arhat he couldn’t go. So he kept meditating, trying at the last minute to become enlightened, and it got to be midnight, 2, 3 o’clock in the morning of the first council of Buddhist arhats, but still he couldn’t make it, even though he was the repository of all of Buddha’s words. All the other arhats wanted him to go, but he couldn’t since he wasn’t an arhat.
Finally it got to be 3:45 in the morning, 15 minutes before the 4:00 wakeup call. Finally, Ananda just gave up and said, “Oh ********, I’m not an arhat.” Then he got enlightened, because he saw things as they were. It was the end of the struggle. No more trying to become an arhat, and he became an arhat.
Many Buddhist traditions teach this story. That says something that is being yourself, rather than to mere doing and self-improvement. It expresses clear vision, seeing things just as they are, rather than as we’d like them to be. It is a lovely, timeless story.