A freind gave me the tranquility i was seeking for .. the love of my life gives me joy everyday… still i seek reason for existing and doing what i do…This quote gave me answer for an important question i was asking myself for a long time… Carpe Diem means so much more….
JAMIE SHANE writes
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
This is obviously a very, very old axiom. Perhaps today it would be better phrased: Before enlightenment, cook dinner, wash laundry. After enlightenment, wash dishes, fold laundry.
Now, I can only speak from the feminine perspective about the power of these mundane tasks because I’m not sure it holds the same for men. But I am fairly sure that every woman has, at some point in time, wept out her sorrow over the dishes, or had some sort of realization over the whites. Whether or not one is concerned with enlightenment, I have learned that if you let them, these very simple, very boring, very small tasks will teach you a lot about the nature of life and the nature of the human being.
And I think that’s kind of funny. Because who would think that enlightenment is living on the bottom of the kitchen sink? Or in a sheet of fabric softener? How ironic that we can spend our whole lives hunting for meaning, never realizing that it can be found in the one thing we expend momentous effort trying to get out of. Chop wood, carry water.
Everything we desire from life is ultimately impermanent, except for those few seemingly impermanent things that have been in play since the dawn of human existence. Human beings have always had to cook and clean and see to the security of their homes. Details, all. Small, menial tasks, all. But you can bet that 300,000 years ago a human woman was preparing food for her family and cleaning up after them. You can also bet that a thousand years from now, a woman somewhere will be doing some version of the same thing. God lives in these kinds of small things. What we do when we raise ourselves above these nitty-gritty details of life, believing that they have no meaning, is to align our sense of being with things that are illusory and impermanent. We set ourselves up for suffering when these false attachments ultimately breed true and disappear.
For instance, you can spend as much of your limited time as you want “getting rich,” but in the end it is only smoke. You could lose every dime tomorrow. The idea of money could cease to be relevant a hundred years from now. Money is not at all permanent, yet we run after it as if wealth can guarantee us permanent happiness or a life longer and more important than what we are given. And if you have attached a sense of self to it, if your very being is aligned to the significance of making money, what happens to you when it is gone? Where will you find your comfort, your truth?
Empires will come and go. Fortunes will be won and spent. Civilizations may even rise and fall. But the small tasks of life will remain, even after you are dust. That has to mean something. That has to speak to their value.
There is great power in life’s simplicity. And great comfort. All we need to do to access it is to be present with the little things, and take solace from their never-ending continuity. They may not be glamorous. They won’t make you famous. But they won’t let you down and they won’t make you suffer. Perhaps in the end that is all that we have, chopping wood and carrying water.
Perhaps that is not only the secret to enlightenment, but the secret to bliss.