Sit-a-Long with Jundo — Fallacies of Awakening, Part IV: Is it sudden or gradual?

Is enlightenment “sudden” or “gradual”? It’s a centuries-old debate in the Zen world (and in other realms of Buddhist practice, too). Zen’s answer has always been “yes” and “yes” –  for while the realization of insights may be in instants beyond time, the cultivation and realization (that is, making real) is done via practice instant by instant in life.

Kensho (seeing original nature) is necessary and vital to this path. Can such happen in an flash? Yes, but it usually ends up a flash in the pan – unless cultivated slowly, step by step, and made a part of one’s life. Must enlightenment happen in an flash? No, for the Buddha’s Truths can pierce our marrowless marrow slowly, step by step, with steady years of practice. In either case, arriving at “no beginning no end“, or any other destination, is not the end of the trail, nor the beginning. [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

(Here is the interview with Joko Beck mentioned today.)

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  1. Don
    Posted September 5, 2010 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Nothing to add. Nothing to take away.
    Just "thank you" and Gassho.

  2. Jikyo
    Posted September 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Jundo.

    Gassho, Jikyo

  3. Luis/Jinyu
    Posted September 6, 2010 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the inspiring talk Jundo sama! And for the link to the interview too!

    gassho, Jinyu

  4. Posted September 6, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Here is a perspective from some very old Buddhist scripture on the varied approaches to understanding the Dharma….
    The Buddha's use of upaya-kosalla is illustrated in the Upali Sutta:
    "Then the Blessed One gave the householder Upali the gradual Teaching starting with giving gifts, becoming virtuous, about the heavenly states, the dangers of sensuality, the vileness of defiling things, and benefits of giving up. Then the Blessed One knew that the mind of the householder Upali was ready, malleable, free of hindrances, lofty and pleased and the Blessed One gave the special message of the Enlightened Ones: Unpleasantness, its arising, its cessation and the path to the cessation of unpleasantness. Like a pure, clean cloth would take a dye evenly. In that same manner, the dustless, stainless eye of the Teaching arose to the householder Upali, seated there itself. Whatever rises has the nature of ceasing. The householder Upali, then and there mastered that Teaching, knew and penetrated it. Doubts dispelled become self confident attained that state where he did not want a teacher, any more, in the Dispensation of the Blessed One. He said.‘Venerable sir, we will go now, there is much work to be done.’‘Householder, do as you think it fit.’"


  5. Monkton
    Posted September 6, 2010 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Kensho? lovely. Everyday practice? Lovely. Thanks for the talk,

  6. Dosho
    Posted September 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Michelangelo often said that his "creations" were already there beneath the stone, leaving him only the task of removing all the unwanted bits…perhaps it is something like that.

    Thank you Jundo.

  7. Jigen
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    It's about the process, not the outcome

  8. Shogen
    Posted September 18, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    After 40 years of wobbling across the path comes instant enlightment. Jundo, your teaching has ripened. Is enlightenment suden or gradual? Yes!

  9. Jennifer G P
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Here's another great (text) interview with Joko Beck:

    I'm very fond of her reaction to her students' enlightenment experiences: “Yeah, that’s O.K. Don’t hold onto it. And how are you getting along with your mother?”

    Great video. Gassho.

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