Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. — Wu Li
No matter what happens in your life; you must keep doing your task. I live by that philosophy too. You can replace enlightenment with any life goal. Nothing changes once you achieve something. You still have to do what you’re meant to do.
Over the past few years, I’ve been updating my perspectives, my attitudes and my practice. What I’ve found is that it’s not a smart thing to get hung up on definitions, movements, and groups. Buddhism, Taoism, Zen — they all share many of the same ideas. Many of the teachings are very useful for living a peaceful and happy life. So I’ve made a list of lessons I’ve found practical and easily applicable to modern day life. Here we go:
Find Your Meditation Technique – The most important part of a practice is meditation. I do sitting meditation somedays (often before bed). Other days I do active meditations and my favorites are walking and strength which bring the physical to the mental. The most important thing about meditation is this: Practice being in the moment. I’ve found it doesn’t matter what type of activity you use. Sitting meditation, yoga, running, strength training — you can MAKE it work for you. Make sure you’re one with your body, clear your mind, and do it regularly.
Enjoy The Moment – This quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Zen Monk, says it all: Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Just makes sure you enjoy most moments of your day. I say most because you’re probably way too busy to enjoy every moment. That’s not realistic unless you’re a Monk. But stopping for a few seconds a day, and enjoying the moment, that’s something everyone can do. No excuses.
Happiness Is Closer Than You Think – We often look at outside sources for happiness: Travel, a new job, moving to a different city or county, a new partner, more experiences, etc. But if you’re unhappy now, you will probably be an unhappy person with new experiences. A quote from the Japanese Zen Master Dogen explains it well: If you are unable to find the happiness right where you are, where else do you expect to find it? Don’t look for happiness in other places. Find it right where you are. Once you become happy, it’s easier to stay happy.
Focus On The Process – Monks and Masters don’t care about results. They focus on habits, rituals, and processes that support the best way of living. Too often, we stare blindly on the results we want to achieve that we forget why we do something in the first place. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to achieve things. You don’t have to give up everything and move to a monastery. But make sure you develop habits and rituals that support what you’re trying to achieve in life. When you focus on the process, the outcome will follow automatically.
The Meaning of Life Is Simple, Live It – The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. Yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. This sounds obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: Instead of thinking, spend your life living. Make yourself useful, solve problems, add value, and most importantly: Enjoy it.
Don’t rush life. Before you know, it will all be over. To me, that’s the true way of living. So today take the thinking and put into living.
Peace and Love, Jim