In the only book written during his lifetime, Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization, Nisargadatta puts it to us directly:
One who leads his life without ever wondering about who or what he is accepts the traditional genealogical history as his own and follows the customary religious and other [now very secular–AT] activities according to tradition. He leads his life with the firm conviction that the world was there prior to his existence, and that it is real; because of this conviction he behaves as he does, gathering possessions and treasures for himself, even knowing that at the time of death he will never see them again. Knowing that none of this will even be remembered after death, still his greed and avarice operate unabated until death.
Bad fortune can turn into good fortune as the former can be an act of divine grace. To keep failing and failing at this or that is, perchance, the beginning of a recognition that all worldly activities, insofar as they are participated in with tunnel vision, are in vain. They can go on without you.
In secular modernity, at this point one unwittingly and, at that, too facilely falls into nihilism. Such too is folly and myopia.
The firm conviction in the realness of the world severed, henceforth the gaze must be turned inward and deepward. The light must be turned within.
Firm conviction in worldliness (and in nihilism) must be supplanted by humble openness and then too humble openness by a sinewy, earnest inquiry. “Who am I?” “What is real?”
These questions: to be held fast to.
They are, in the final analysis, the only metaphysical questions worth asking. They come first and last. Posed by the mind, they finally extinguish the mind in the flames of What Truly Is.
“Stop identifying with what you are not” and “Be what you truly are” is the advice given to all spiritual aspirants. What more is there to say?