Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Enlightenment, Karma and Mindfulness

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. 
                           After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. 

This is one of my current favorite zen sayings, attributed to the Xin Xin Ming, one of the earliest Chan (Zen) Buddhism texts in China.

To me, this is about karma and life. We come into this world with a karmic past that plays itself out throughout our life. We cannot change that past, and the karmic energy must be played out in some way.  

Buddha teaches us in the 8 Fold Path how to live the life we have without creating more karma on top of it, which will require additional lives to be worked through. An enlightened one has learned the lessons of the Buddha (or perhaps discovered them in some other way), and is able to live out the karma of this life (chop wood, carry water) with adding more karma to it.

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