Q: Roshi, you've said that "sudden enlightenment is the ancient & fundamental Way." But how "sudden" can this enlightenment be if I've got to prepare for it by raising energy or cultivating stillness, as you suggest?
A: 20 years is sudden. 120 years is sudden. This moment is also sudden.
It takes a whole night for snow to pile up on the pine tree but when you look at it in the morning, there it is entering your eyes. The snow-draped pine tree. Sudden!
Hsueh-Tou's teacher spent 20 years doing Zazen under Yunmen's direction before he attained enlightenment. He later said, "I wasn't a whole person until I reached forty years old."
One may wear out many pairs of straw sandals humping it from mountain to mountain looking for an opening so as to "Resolve the Great Matter of Life & Death."
The effort is long and bitter but the awakening is always sudden as the clong of a bell at midnight. So if you want sudden enlightenment, contemplate this:
In what realm is the sudden booming sound of the midnight bell heard?