Enlightenment is a sudden, spontaneous event. It can happen in any moment to anyone. Then why most people who experience this event are long term seekers on the path?
In nowadays it is very popular to say that practice is unnecessary, the path to Enlightenment is not gradual, but sudden, and this alone leaves many of us totally confused in relation to our practice. I want to say some words to point the value of a spiritual practice, the gradual path, in regards to Enlightenment.
1. Traditional spiritual path always includes ethics, morality in the foundation. Though it has nothing to do with enlightenment, the ethics must be laid out firmly before the mind wakes up to it’s nature. It will be effortless for awaken one to operate within the ethical framework that established already. And those who skip the sila (in Pali for ethics, morality) - may find themselves fall into unhealthy habits, attachments, indulge in destructive behaviors.
2. Practicing concentration in any form trains the mind to single pointedness, so in the moment of sudden enlightenment mind is able to hold the view for longer period, giving more time for the brain re-wire, dropping karmic imprints.
3. Practicing inquiry has a tremendous benefit. Seems like we go for years with “Who am I?” question, or similar, or a perpetual prayer with just a little benefit of calming the mind, but at the ripe moment, the self-churning question will be a catalyst to a spontaneous enlightenment. It is very important to keep the question, your burning question alive, at some moment the only what will remain - is a question itself, and it will be answered in the state of enlightenment.
It is true that Enlightenment is a Grace, a Revelation, and it dawn on us not for our efforts or attainments. There are no guarantees, but there is always a possibility.
Until then, keep your practice and question alive!