Friday, July 02, 2010

More thoughts on chopping wood, carrying water, and enlightenment...

Collage by Lani, textures from ShadowHouseCreations, girl from PaperWhimsy

I was thinking a little more about the relationship between chopping wood and carrying water  (drudgery, hard work, the stuff we want to pay someone else to do) and enlightenment (or more creativity in our lives).  So the zen teacher says before and after enlightenment you have to chop wood and carry water.  I am suggesting it's all part of the same experience.  The thing that I think is different for everyone is the actual stuff that we are avoiding or the thing that we are locked into a resistant relationship with.  Some of us avoid chopping wood, and some of us have other things we try to avoid.  I believe that once we embrace whatever it is that we most want to avoid, miracles can happen.  I believe that so much of our human suffering is all about avoiding reality, the reality of needing to organize our art space, or the reality of loss, pain, aging, illness, and death; these things are as much a part of our human experience, a part of our stories and the moments of creativity and enlightenment. 

It's almost like we are given our own particular story/puzzle/mystery to work out.  This is our life.  We can solve it.  We can find the buried treasure within our own lives, not at some future moment but in this moment.  I really believe this.  I was watching a gorgeous DVD last night, "Necessities of Life" or  "Ce Qu'il Faut Pour Vivre", a story about an Inuit man with TB on Baffin Island.  He is uprooted from his family, land, and home, and sent to a sanatorium somewhere in Quebec.  As the film unfolds you get a sense of his anomic depression and what the necessities for life would be for anyone in his situation.  He needed someone to talk to, some one to teach, he needed art, to be able to create things, people hoping the best for him, kindness from others, and a little salmon now and then.  

So it's like a mystery or a strange, engaging story, and we've each got our own, unfolding before us, whether we are an Inuit in a Quebec TB ward struggling to survive or a Zen monk struggling or stumbling towards enlightenment.  And we need to really be in the story to find the treasure, we really need to be here now.  Resistance to that being here now can come in many forms.  It can be resistance to doing what we perceive as difficult physical activity, it can be the resistance to what ever elements there are in our lives that we don't really want to look at or be a part of.  The Inuit man was resisting his life as it was, trapped in a TB sanatorium, and the very moment he began to embrace his life as it really was and to use what were his necessities for life, he began to recover. 

So here's a challenge: What are the necessities for your life?  Find them, name them, embrace them, create art with them, and enjoy them.  

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