Saturday, May 09, 2009

Chop Wood Carry Water

'Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.' is a Zen saying that touches on the importance of work. Karmic yoga कर्म योग is one of the four pillars of yoga and means "discipline of action." It is the principle of doing work for the glory of the Universe rather than expecting a reward. It is no coincidence that these two Eastern practices value the importance of work as a form of service.

Often work can seem like a drudgery we are forced to do in order to make a living. We go through the motions and clock in our time until we can go home and really live our lives the way we want. But if we use mindfulness and become aware that what we are doing is giving service to our community in the form of our workplace, work can become an action of unselfishness, if not a pleasure in itself. We can take the mundane experience of work and turn it into a magickal one which is imbued with a lesson for us in the minute details of performing our daily tasks.

Mindfulness and training our awareness in the moment can also teach us to focus on our work and in the end will make our performance better. Charge yourself with a white light meditation every morning before going to your job and remember always that you are a spiritual being. Try to see the beauty and feel compassion for your fellow workers, especially those with whom you may clash. Every challenge can become a lesson.

It helps to keep a work journal. Not only will this become a tool for your own sanity and peace of mind, but it helps to remember small details of daily interactions and meetings. It will make you more conscientious and task oriented to write in your work journal, and it will be a constant reminder to come back to your center and breathe your way through your work day.

Work can become a part of our spiritual practice, instead of a place we just go to everyday to pass the time and pay our bills. We can integrate our work life into our spiritual practice and the lessons we learn in the workplace will only help us on our path toward inward growth.


Norm said...

Very Interesting. Thanks.