A Little Sunday Zen

Cover of "Chop Wood, Carry Water"

Cover of Chop Wood, Carry Water

There is a famous story in the Zen world that Dinty W. Moore (every time I write his name I think of baked beans), author of the “Mindful Writer” includes in his book. On page 118 to be exact. It goes as follows:

The student, newly arrived at the monastery, asks the master, “What work will I do as I seek enlightenment?”

The master replies. “Chop wood, carry water.”

“And what work will I do once I achieve enlightenment?”

“Chop wood, carry water,” replies the master.

A simple bit of Zenism, and as with all in the Zen world, it needs an explanation in order to understand it. According to Moore, “writers write”. They may do a myriad of other things: walk their dog, go to work, take meetings, care for their family—but in the end he says, “…any writer, even a writer who has published….and won two dozen awards, gets up in the morning knowing what must be done. The words must be chopped and the sentences carried.”

Woods

Woods (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I think the famous story in the Zen world has a larger meaning. It can apply to all things we do in life—we must “chop wood, carry water”—we must continue what we are doing; we must not be satisfied; we must carry on. Our job is really never done, and when we think it is, we have in essence, stopped living.

It is a story of purpose, and without purpose there is no need to “chop wood, carry water.”

My bliss today is to keep chopping wood and carrying water. What about you?

Would You Find Bliss in Reincarnation?

Hindus believe the self or soul (atman) repeat...

Hindus believe the self or soul (atman) repeatedly takes on a physical body. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s prompt from Michelle at WordPress~

Reincarnation: do you believe in it?

I don’t know.  In the last little while a fellow blogger (grosenberg Feb 7, 2013) talked about the fact that “I don’t know” is one of the most honest answers you can give. And I agree. When it comes to reincarnation, I just don’t know. I don’t discount it. I don’t not believe in it. But I also do not know if it is something that really happens.

I sometimes wonder why we are supposed to be faith based. Why do we have so many unanswered questions? If they were answered, would be sealing our fate as Adam and Eve did?

Reincarnation has a number of synonyms: rebirth, re-creation, reawakening, restoration, re-embodiment, recreation (I assume this is the same as re-creation, and not referencing activities such as baseball or beer drinking).

 Definitions generously provided by my Encarta Dictionary for reincarnation say that “in some systems of belief, the cyclic return of a soul to live another life in a new body”; “ a person or animal in whose body somebody’s soul is born again after he, she, or it has died”; or more simply “a reappearance of something in a new form”.

I like to keep an open mind. And I do not like to discount other’s beliefs unless they are harmful. Reincarnation is a religious concept as well as philosophical, and in those terms I am not prepared to reduce it to something I do not believe in.

Français : L'actrice américaine Shirley MacLai...

Shirley MacLaine 1987. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find the concept fascinating. That we have more than one chance at life. Different chances, different experiences. If I have been reincarnated, I wonder what my other lives were—and why I don’t remember them.  Shirley MacLaine does. Maybe we should ask her.

Would you find bliss if in fact we knew there was such a thing as reincarnation?