So there is the teaching of "Sudden Enlightenment". It is written that Huineng, upon hearing someone recite the Diamond Sutra, attained enlightenment from hearing that. Or was it that he attained an "awakening" into the dharma, from hearing that? Is there a difference between "awakening" and "enlightenment"? If enlightenment is the end of suffering and the complete release of clinging AKA: Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi, does that mean, in that one instant, that Huineng was completely released from all clinging and all suffering in that very instant of hearing that? Does "sudden enlightenment" mean that all that habitual clinging can be completely released, in an instant? With no chance to fall back into those habitual patterns? What exactly does "sudden enlightenment" mean? Does it really mean the instantaneous and permanent release of all clinging, to all 5 Skandhas, in just one brief moment?
On the topic of your original post....here is a short quote from Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua posted on another topic by will.
It's something to think about.
The Dharma-door of Chan meditation points directly to the human mind. It teaches us to see our nature and to become a Buddha. It is also called "the sudden teaching." The teaching of sudden enlightenment is brought to success by cultivating the gradual teaching. There’s a saying that goes: "One may suddenly be enlightened to the principles, but then one puts the principles into practice gradually. "Now in our daily deportment, as we walk, sit, stand, and lie down, we are cultivating gradually. Then in the future, there will be a day when we truly understand and we suddenly get enlightened. That’s what we mean by sudden. The sudden, in fact, is not apart from the gradual; and the gradual also aids the sudden.
The main points gere are (in my humble
1. That sudden enlightenment is the result of a gradual perhaps lifetime study of and a grounding in the basics as a first step.
2. That though a realization may be sudden any effects of that realization may take time to develop and come into effect.
3. That the terms gradual and sudden are not exclusive; but a part of the same process....that they are therefore like the heads and tails sides of a coin...they can't be seperated.
This probaly applies not only to Chan meditation but to all "Sudden enlightenment teachings".