There’s an old saying, “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” It’s true.
We entered this reality, in this incarnation, to find the truth of ourselves (enlightenment) while dealing with the many lessons presented to us by this very same reality. It’s a balancing act and a necessary one at that.
To live in this physical reality means to deal with the many details of being part of it. The body needs to be fed and clothed along with being taken care of in others ways to prevent physical illness. The mind is a place of observation and learning, whether in a formal education or just from daily life in our surroundings. Let’s not forget we are also creatures of emotion. We react to our surroundings, experiences, and the people we come in contact with, with those very same emotions. So this reality is our classroom for learning though our body, mind, and “heart”.
Since we are unable to communicate on a level that others can understand when we first arrive as infants, no one knows for sure how much we remember of where we came from or who we really are. Spiritual people and some philosophers express the opinion that we remember we are spiritual beings and remember that place from which we left to come here. It’s totally possible, after all, babies are unusually happy, most of the time, for reasons we seldom truly understand.
As the years pass, and we become more and more indoctrinated into this reality, this Earth existence, that memory becomes fainter and fainter until we have little or no remembrance of it at all. Yes, there are some exceptions, but I like to think they came in to remain aware to remind the rest of us that we are more than these physical bodies and this reality seem to be.
Providing for ourselves, and, often others, requires action, work, if you will. For many that means getting a job or creating a business in order to provide the flow of cash needed for the necessities of Life. For others, it may mean working their land to provide food, clothing, and shelter for themselves. Each of us, in our own way must “chop wood and carry water” to survive here.
But what of our spiritual side? What of the spiritual being that is the “real” us? For many, they become so caught up in the needs of this reality that they give little or no thought to that part of themselves. For others, they feel attending the religious services of the spiritual path they follow creates that connection to the “godhead” and thus takes care of the spiritual side of their lives. There are others, however, who feel a “calling” of sorts to discover what that part of them is really all about and a desire to understand how that part fits into the life they are living each day on this planet.
There’s a spiritual theory/philosophy that says we are each a spark of the Creative Force made manifest in this reality to learn about Itself. The reason we have “free will” is so that we can decide, at any point in time, to turn left, right, or continue straight ahead on the course we are on in our journey. Free will means that nothing is predestined. Even if you believe that you created a plan of things you wanted to accomplish and/or karma you wanted to resolve, you didn’t plan every minute of every day throughout your lifetime here. There will always be choices to be made and other people who will be involved in some way.
This journey to enlightenment doesn’t consist of a set of instructions that says if you take step A and follow it with step B then you will reach your goal of spiritual awareness. Everyone’s journey is different. What is true for all of is that there is a duality to our natures – we are both mundane and spiritual. That means there are two voices in our heads. One is the voice of consciousness (the mundane) whose voice is loud and clear and often speaks of fear, anger, worry, etc. The other voice is quieter, often harder to hear over the noise of the first voice. It is the voice of out “higher self” (the spiritual). Its voice is one that tries to let us know what we intended on accomplishing, how we might achieve it, and provides inspiration and encouragement. This is the voice of awakening/enlightenment.
So let’s say you hear that “calling”, you begin to seek out and listen to that quieter voice, you change how you look at Life and make your choices and, as a result, you do begin to awaken and become somewhat enlightened….what then? Does Life get easier? Do you still have to work a job, run a business, work the land? Yes, you do.
Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t grant a reprieve from the responsibilities of being in a physical body residing in this physical reality. Even Jesus, Buddha, and other enlightened beings still had to eat, take care of bodily functions, clothe themselves, etc. Then what’s the point? Remember the infant that couldn’t tell us why, but smiled and laughed for, what seemed to us, no apparent reason? That’s the point. The joy and wonder of remembering who we really are and where we came from can make lighter the burdens that many of us feel are weighing us down. It gives us a new perspective that allows us to look at each day with hope and reflect on each day at night with gratitude. It is then that to “chop wood and carry water” becomes no problem. In fact, it’s a pleasure.
May we all chop wood and carry water with ease and peace of mind.