Existential Angst

My blog is to honor my father and children that have passed away as I search for meaning in their loss.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


There is a saying, I once heard, in Buddhism that goes something like, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” I have always thought of this as the truth that one should stay humble and simple. Like a superman in disguise, one should keep their “day job” even thought they are at one with the universe.

There is another side to this truth. If one is in the dark, hoping that the room is filled with presents all with your name on them, the light may not bring happiness. You may be surprised by the illumination of the waste and destruction all around you, that was always there, but you could blissfully ignore.

Now you must carry water and chop wood not just to drink and eat but now you see yourself as a part of a system and your place in it. You must chop wood. You must carry water. Others don’t have too, but you are not one of them. If others would just give a little, you could have a lot, but they will never give anything to you.

Buddhist dedicate a lot of time to this issue. They try to explain that you could be reborn into a better position in life if you just keep carrying water and chopping wood. If you give up everything and be a monk, you might be Buddha in the next life.

For what enlightenment I might have, all I know is that it is very frustrating. Since I have been following my dreams, I have come to understand a lot about myself. I see my reality much more clearly. I feel the presence of God in my life. I know my soul deeply wants this life. I can deeply love my wife and child with complete abandon. I want to live like it is my last day, but I have a mortgage to pay. I want to sing and play music with friends but I have to work on the house. I know it is very small of me to complain about what 90% of other people in world would love to have which is just one more reason to prove that I’m not very enlighten at all. I guess tomorrow I’ll be chopping wood and carrying water.


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