There is a Zen saying, “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”
What is the spiritual value of chopping wood and carrying water?
When we rely on our own will, our ability to create and do something with our hands, we tap into the fundamental energies available to us by living here on earth. These primary energies support us in many ways; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It is essential, in fact, to connect with these energies to gain full enlightenment. Although we have made incredible industrial and technological advancements as humans, our over-dependence on the multitude of modern conveniences has restricted our ability to receive the gifts of these elemental forces.
Our spiritual ascension into higher realms of consciousness is deeply linked to how we live on earth. We can spend a majority of our time meditating, reading spiritual books, and attending church, but this is only a fraction of our work. As whole beings, we are most in alignment when we actively bring love and consciousness to all areas of our lives. Living mindfully into the basic and mundane aspects of life is an important part of our awakening.
When we look at the greater spiritual picture, right now many of us are experiencing challenges in the areas represented by our lowest chakras – our primal connections to living on earth in human form. Money, our need and ability to work, our connection to earth and our “survival” are areas of focus in this phase of our evolutionary process. We are “cleaning house” so to speak and this, more often than not, can be uncomfortably messy and hard to do.
The primary intention of our current “downturn” is to bring our attention down – away from our heads – to the foundations of who we are and how we live. Our task, therefore, is to reevaluate our ways of living, doing and being, and – hopefully – make adjustments beyond mere “survival” (or fearful thoughts about survival); it is time to awaken all parts of our lives.
When we release our dependence on all things “convenient”, roll up our sleeves and dig into the basic doing-ness of daily life in its simplest forms, we connect with an authenticity that transcends the task itself. By following an end product, or chore, to its source, time and time again, we live into the practice of finding our own Source. Then, by generating something from "r-a-w" matter we, in turn, can learn to form ourselves from "really-all-what" matters as well – we understand how to create from Source.
Whether we attend to a simple task, craft an object with our hands, or rebuild our lives with our hearts, we always have the opportunity to connect with the essential nature of our work. In doing so, we learn that we can create anything with love and mindfulness. And, as the creator, we can use resources that we have carefully selected.
Chopping wood and carrying water have very practical benefits as well. We claim our power and gain autonomy with self-reliance.
If your region of the world were to experience a catastrophe, and all modern conveniences were not available to you, would you be able to take care of your basic needs? Do you even own an axe or a bucket?
These questions are not meant to frighten or alarm, but rather to ask you to take an insightful look on your reliance on life’s conveniences versus your ability to depend on your own means.
If you are one of those individuals who is being “called” to clear and align your lower chakras, then perhaps it is time for you to learn to chop wood, carry water, plant a garden, can your food, knit your own socks, use cash rather than credit cards, ride your bike and and rely on your own forces.
In your morning meditations, bring these fundamental living ideas into your heart and let them unfold. In quietude, ask your Higher Self, or Source, “What is my basic task for today?” “How can I connect with the earthly energies available to me?” “What does it mean to be self-reliant?”
As we cultivate a deeper relationship with our Source and connect with the primary energies of earthly living, we will not only awaken our lower chakras with love and consciousness, we will activate grounded and authentic living into our bodies. The energy, discipline and sense of satisfaction we receive from cleaning house will be well worth our hoarded time.
Additionally, if or when the energies of chaos hit your neck of the woods, you will have first hand experiences of chopping wood, carrying water and creating what you truly need... from Source.
“…though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to (a person) but through his toil bestowed on the plot of ground which is given him to till.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Self Reliance