The Essential Scriptures of the Buddha and Patriarchs
Secrets on Cultivating the Mind
Now, there are many approaches for entering the Way, but if we explain their gist, they are all subsumed under the twofold approach of sudden awakening followed by gradual cultivation. Although some have advocated sudden awakening [and simultaneous] sudden cultivation, this is the entrance for people of extraordinary spiritual faculties. If you were to probe their pasts, you would see that already for many lifetimes their cultivation has been based on [the insights gained in a previous] awakening. After sustained gradual suffusion, now, in this lifetime, these people hear [the dharma] and awaken: in one moment [their practice is brought to a] sudden conclusion. But if we try to explain this according to the facts, then this capacity [for sudden awakening/sudden cultivation] is also the result of an initial [sudden] awakening and its subsequent [gradual] cultivation. Consequently, this twofold approach of sudden [awakening] and gradual [cultivation] is the track followed by thousands of sages. Hence, there were none of the sages of old who did not first have an awakening, subsequently cultivate it, and, as a result of that cultivation, finally gain realization. The superpowers and transformations of form to which you refer appear because of the gradual suffusion of cultivation based on [an initial] awakening; it is not that they appear simultaneously with that awakening.