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Chop Wood, Carry Water...

Day 235

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”

As this famous Zen saying tells us, your simple, pedestrian, day-to-day practice – which might be difficult, boring, neutral or even pleasant – is what you're doing almost all of the time. Every so often, there's some watershed moment, a micro or macro burst of insight, but these soon settle back down, and you're back to one step at a time. (And even after your Enlightenment–enlightenment, when your practice aspect of 'chopping' and 'carrying' is finished, you're still going to eat and drink, so that wood and water continue to be necessary!)

Practically speaking, right now 'chopping' and 'carrying' looks like paying attention to your breathing. The breath itself is simply a (deeply) useful target, but it's the quality of your attention, and the resulting change in your mind (human, monkey, mammal, etc.) that we're interested in. Your awareness is your most precious resource, and both the outside world and the creatures inside your mind are used to just grabbing a piece of it whenever they choose.

Every day when you chop your wood and carry your water, you are claiming back your mind and building in a level of consent and consciousness as to where your attention goes.



Keep it simple. You're just chopping wood & carrying water.

Notice a breath. Notice a body sensation.

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