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Do all that you would in your routine life on your way to enlightenment. When you awaken, you will realise that the world is the same—it is you who has changed
Chopping wood, Carrying Water
Chopping wood, Carrying Water”
— Zen proverb
This is one ancient adage I absolutely love. It is profound, precise and relevant even today.
It is a great source of personal comfort because it tells me that enlightenment, or spiritual awakening, is a realisation, not an achievement.
We are surrounded by all kinds of concepts portraying enlightenment as if it was some scarce and precious item that can only be “purchased” by spending time and effort—not to mention other resources.
‘Jet age’ gurus fashionably proclaim that they have achieved enlightenment after a period of great search and struggle. What is amusing is many of these gurus would like us to believe that enlightenment is reserved for a select few.
They also significantly alter their appearance and lifestyle, thereby giving the impression that enlightenment transforms an individual completely. And then, they promise to show you the path but add conditions and prescribe many impracticable rules.
Naturally then, most unsuspecting folk come to believe that enlightenment is some extraordinary phenomenon that is out of reach for ‘ordinary’ people—it requires giving up daily life and everything associated with it. This idea of enlightenment makes them feel inferior.
If you, like many, have fallen for the idea that spiritual awakening is reserved for a chosen few and requires one to go to the Himalayas and spend years meditating, it’s time to open your eyes.
Allow me to share what I have come to understand about enlightenment:
So, continue to chop, carry, sell, buy, repair, cook, manage, relate—do all that you would in your routine life—on your way to enlightenment. When you awaken, you will realise that the world is the same—it is you who has changed.