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Enlightenment - Gradual or Sudden?

See topic.

What do you think? Do you believe that enlightenment is a gradual process whereby you evolve slowly into a better human being ....... and then finally become a Buddha? Sort of like completing your bachelor's, then master's, and then your doctorate - gradual process, step by step, linear progress.

Or do you believe that enlightenment is sudden whereby even a thief or murderer could, in a moment, become a Buddha? Sudden, miraculous, and instantaneous transformation.....

So ............. which is it?

Comments

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    From the Zen Platform Sutra:
    While the Patriarch was staying at Pao Lin Temple in
    Ts’ao Hsi, the Great Master Shen Hsiu was at Yü Ch’üan
    Temple in Ching Nan. At that time the two schools
    flourished and everyone called them, “Southern Neng
    and Northern Hsiu.” So it was that the two schools,
    northern and southern, were divided into “sudden” and
    “gradual.” As the students did not understand the
    doctrine, the Master said to them, “The Dharma is
    originally of one school. It is people who think of North
    and South. The Dharma is of one kind, but people
    understand it slowly or quickly. Dharma is not sudden or
    gradual. Rather it is people who are sharp or dull. Hence
    the terms sudden and gradual.”
    Cinorjer
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/



    The Dhamma, the truth taught by the Buddha, is uncovered gradually through sustained practice. The Buddha made clear many times that Awakening does not occur like a bolt out of the blue to the untrained and unprepared mind. Rather, it culminates a long journey of many stages:[1]

    just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this Doctrine and Discipline (dhamma-vinaya) has a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to gnosis only after a long stretch.

    — Ud 5.5

    Monks, I do not say that the attainment of gnosis is all at once. Rather, the attainment of gnosis is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice. And how is there the attainment of gnosis after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice? There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one makes an exertion. Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the
  • ZeroZero Veteran
    betaboy said:


    What do you think? Do you believe that enlightenment is a gradual process whereby you evolve slowly into a better human being ....... and then finally become a Buddha? Sort of like completing your bachelor's, then master's, and then your doctorate - gradual process, step by step, linear progress.
    Or do you believe that enlightenment is sudden whereby even a thief or murderer could, in a moment, become a Buddha? Sudden, miraculous, and instantaneous transformation.....

    So ............. which is it?

    'Gradual' is I suppose a less precise way of saying 'counting along a series of causality'?
    Would that inevitably be a series of 'suddens'?
    Within our perception of time at least...
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited January 2014
    Both.

    This debate always reminds me of my old days as a teenager, attending a small Pentecostal church with my Grandma. For those who have never had the privilege of seeing an Olde Time Gospel church in action, each service ends with an altar call where folks are urged to come down to the altar and be saved and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It's a powerful emotional event, with the congregation singing the old hymn "Almost Persuaded". It was especially powerful if you were a sinner not saved yet, so they were all praying you'd get down on your knees that night. Being saved was a sudden thing, an instant life change as the Holy Spirit entered your heart.

    Anyway, I noticed one man kept going down to the altar about every other week or so, and after the Preacher prayed with him for a while he'd get happy and announce that he'd been saved and had Jesus in his heart each time. I asked my Grandma what she thought of that, if she felt the man was playing around and faking it for the attention. She told me the man had a drinking problem and every time he fell off the wagon and "backslid" he'd have to get saved all over again. She said "being saved" was only the first, necessary step. After that, a person had to be "sanctified" or devote their life to God and grow in strength and wisdom as the Holy Spirit worked on you. This was a gradual thing, she went on to explain, and full of traps and temptations to test your faith.

    I asked her how many times a person like that man could get saved before it took for good. "As many times as it takes," she said.

    So in Buddhism we first open that doorless door, see the empty mirror, attain Satori or whatever you call it. But what then? Satori is nothing special. So your mind expanded to include the universe for a timeless moment. So you had an "Aha!" moment when you finally got the punchline to the joke we call life. Congratulations.

    But now what do you do? We still have to learn from our mistakes and struggle with applying our understanding to the world around us. Gradual wisdom built on sudden enlightenment. No other type. Master Seung once said, "Clear mind is easy. Keeping clear mind in every situation is hard."

  • misterCopemisterCope PA, USA Veteran
    I don't know.

    Personally, I often read about something that might blow my mind (quantum entanglement!) and I have a sudden cerebral shift of understanding, but it might take a long, long while before I really wrap my head around it.

    I read once that I don't have to be angry and I understood it instantly, but still became angry often. Gradually, over time, I began to understand it and became less and less angry until I began to forget what anger feels like.

    Does that mean I am enlightened? Probably a question for @Lobster...
    CinorjerDandelion
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    betaboy said:


    Or do you believe that enlightenment is sudden whereby even a thief or murderer could, in a moment, become a Buddha? Sudden, miraculous, and instantaneous transformation.....

    Perhaps it's possible in the presence of a Buddha, but apart from that I suspect it's a long slog for most of us.
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    If you could stop clinging to enlightenment, could that be done slowly or quickly?
    anatamanlobster
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited January 2014

    betaboy said:


    Or do you believe that enlightenment is sudden whereby even a thief or murderer could, in a moment, become a Buddha? Sudden, miraculous, and instantaneous transformation.....

    Perhaps it's possible in the presence of a Buddha, but apart from that I suspect it's a long slog for most of us.
    as far as I know those who were "spontaneously enlightened" in the old suttas had " little dust in their eyes", ie they were pretty advanced to begin with.

    They Buddha didn't have a power to "make" you enlightened, hence why he said strive on diligently for your own salvation.
  • Having a Buddha in the realm you are in is one of the endowments needed to practice dharma.
  • anandoanando Explorer
    Hello,
    I never found out who invented the word enlightement. The word in Pali-Canon means awakening. The last word tells us more of the charcter of this process in meditation.

    anando
  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    @betaboy said:
    See topic.

    What do you think? Do you believe that enlightenment is a gradual process whereby you evolve slowly into a better human being ....... and then finally become a Buddha? Sort of like completing your bachelor's, then master's, and then your doctorate - gradual process, step by step, linear progress.

    Or do you believe that enlightenment is sudden whereby even a thief or murderer could, in a moment, become a Buddha? Sudden, miraculous, and instantaneous transformation.....

    So ............. which is it?

    Not gradual, Not sudden, Not both gradual and sudden, Not neither gradual nor sudden.

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