Seon is the transmission of mind there and then. Those whose abilities are ripened with the awakening of a moment can enter then and there. The clarification of one’s original face does not need any superficiality. The Buddha picked up and showed a flower and Kāśyapa immediately smiled and that’s all. Therefore Seon Master Dahui just said, “At just a word or a paragraph, it is important not to go round in circles and to be directly enlightened.”
If one shows one word in this way, then one must conquer the hwadu momentarily then and there. The Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng, hearing a line from the Diamond Sutra was greatly enlightened at that word. Seon Master Huineng said,
Teachers, when I was with Master Hongren I was enlightened greatly at one word and was immediately enlightened to the basic nature of True Thusness. Therefore, in order to circulate this teaching to later generations, and to awaken practitioners immediately that they are bodhi, I have tried to get them to see their own minds and awaken to their own original nature. (The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch).
Therefore Seon Master Mazu said, “If one is a sentient being of superior ability, one suddenly receives the teacher’s instructions and becomes aware at the end of a word, and without going through stages or ranks again, one is immediately enlightened to their basic nature.” (Mazu yulu)
The disciple, listening to the master’s words is awakened at the end of the word. This is called “enlightenment at a word.” In the case of this enlightenment at a word, it immediately transcends the stages of movement and calm in one thusness, dream and awakening in one thusness, and waking and sleep in one thusness. If one divides it into stages, one recognizes the passage of time. But the awakening of an instant is enlightenment at one instant, and in the enlightened instant it transcends time and space. This instant, seeing the timeless instant, is an eternity that transcends time. The hwadu is thus conquered in that one instant. And so the instant awakening makes possible the great enlightenment at a word.
And so how must one understand the circumstances of that great enlightenment at a word that is the awakening of an instant? How is it possible for such great enlightenment at a word even though one is of the ability of the highest vehicle? That is because “our minds are originally Buddha.” Therefore, at the end of a word or by observing a certain phenomena one can be directly enlightened. Anybody who thoroughly believes the fact that “I am originally Buddha,” if they open their eyes to that will be suddenly enlightened.
Those who are awakened then and there as soon as they receive the hwadu are people of truly superior ability. Even though it is not enlightenment at an instant, if one investigates the hwadu thoroughly, one can attain enlightenment in a brief instant.
The awakening in a fast time, although possible, if the practitioners of Ganhwa Seon give rise to the desire that I must be rapidly enlightened, they will definitely be unable to be enlightened. It is more important to have the mental attitude that says I must make the mind resolute earnestly and clarify the mind than to have the mind of rapid result that says I must be rapidly enlightened. If one looks at it in this way, those of superior ability can also have instantaneous awakening or awakening in a rapid time frame.