Is enlightenment gradual or instantaneous?

Acharya Prashant
4 min readAug 24, 2020

The following excerpt is from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Question (Q): Acharya Ji, we have heard many stories of kings getting enlightened in one moment. So, is enlightenment gradual or instantaneous?

Acharya Prashant (AP): It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. (Pointing at the arrangement of posters on the wall) Do you see this arrangement there? Let us say that this is the arrangement that is called ‘completeness’ or ‘totality’. Nothing is missing here, right?

Now, in the king’s life, this particular poster is missing. (Reading out the quotation written on the poster) “As you minimize the role of planning in your life, your freedom increases.” So one day this poster comes floating upon the wings and somehow gets fixed here on the wall. And now, the pattern is complete. Now the thing is total.

This is the way it becomes total for the king, because in the king’s story, in the king’s life only ‘this’ is missing. ‘This’ has no special relevance, except that in the king’s particular, personal story, ‘this’ was missing. Therefore, the appearance of ‘this’ thing has no special relevance for you.

You find out what is missing in ‘your’ life.

The king saw a dry, yellow leaf floating upon the winds, and he was immediately enlightened. That might be because the king has brought everything else, assembled everything else that is needed for Totality except — detachment.

Now when he sees that the tree has given up on the leaf, and the leaf is no more attached to the tree, and the leaf is freely floating — that completes the story for him. Now, what completes the story for the king, will not complete the story for Parmeshwari (the questioner), because in the king’s world only ‘this’ was missing.

In Parmeshwari’s world, this-this, and that are missing. So a floating leaf will not help you. So what is going to help you? May be a talking parrot, may be a dancing frog. May be some tea.

You have to see what is missing from your Totality.

Therefore stories about others’ Enlightenment must be read with caution.

You specially have stuff like this in Zen.

“So the monk was walking…

Acharya Prashant