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The Meaning of “Chop Wood, Carry Water”


The title of this site may seem a bit weird, unless you know the full Zen Proverb:

Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

And that might still be a bit weird…

Enlightenment, in the buddhist sense, changes nothing on the outside, you still have to chop wood and carry water.

This is not to say that I think I am in any way, shape or form, enlightened. Far from it. I wouldn’t even consider myself a buddhist, and I’m as run by my monkey mind as most people are. But The New Tantra, of which I have done only level 1, has offered a practical way of working with that.

So, the phrase “Chop Wood, Carry Water” is a way to remind myself what needs to be done, both practically and spiritually. It is therefore deeply meaningful to me.

There’s more good stuff about the proverb on Zenrevolution.

UPDATE 2015-08-22: I’ve removed the “Chop Wood, Carry Water” title of the blog, although I still like it a lot. Just didn’t fit into the overall picture.

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