Chop wood and carry water

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There’s an old Zen saying that the way to enlightenment is to chop wood and carry water. In other words, there’s no secret or magic to it – it’s just hard work in the service of others.

Do you know what you do once you become enlightened? You chop wood and you carry water. That’s the paradox. You can’t stop doing all the things that got you there just because you feel like you’ve arrived.

5H6A4492Black belt is the same. 

It’s a shock to some people when the teacher is sometimes very curt and to the point with instruction and directions in the classroom. But most of the time, when they are driving very hard, it’s for a purpose. We want you to stand straight, we want you to look straight, we want you to keep your teeth tight.

You can be shocked or rubbed the wrong way – that is OK. Just remember, though, that there’s no way to enlightenment, there’s no way to a higher level, unless you have self-discipline. It simply does not happen.

To think otherwise is to buy into a farce – something in the social consciousness that’s been generated by a culture of rampant consumerism. The notion that “it has to be easy all the time” is misleading and harmful.

The way to enlightenment, the way to black belt, is to chop wood and carry water. Self-discipline, combined with hard work in the service of others. When you strip away everything else, that is what is left.

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