What does it mean by ‘Chop wood & carry water’?

Photo of seasonal flowers in my garden. Like these flowers we need to live life giving our best which Chinese mystics says as chop wood and carry water
Chop wood & Carry water is the way of living of Chinese saints. It is a way of living life naturally and going with the flow like fluid or water.

My English is poor, pronunciation is further ahead of it. Still I write so that you may get a glimpse towards which I am pointing to, like it happens when you ask a stranger in non-English speaking country about something and he or she tries to explain it. If you are thirsty of this knowledge, so you get it too. The consciousness plays an important role in communicating the point at much higher level where we all are connected because I am writing only from my own experiences or understanding. 

You may prefer to listen, in US English, to this post from my podcast show “ Philosia “ on Google podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Pocket casts too.

Osho said that a person must live like Chinese Mystics live. Before enlightenment or Satori or Philosia moment in their life they chop wood, carry water and after enlightenment or Satori or Philosia moment they chop wood, carry water. Chinese mystic follow gyan marg or path of meditation to discover the truth within.

The mystic Osho wants to inform his disciples that the person who is determined to get real experience in his or her spiritual journey must live a simple life. For him discovery of his soul or the REALITY is first priority.

The normal person lives life to satisfy or enhance his desires that in other way fulfil or enhance his ego. This included even desires to pursue higher and higher education or serving people for sake of humanity. All that is big or association with the big is just way to enhance one’s ego.

First requirement for such ‘big’ is that the person must feel deep inside that he or she is very small and this association with this ‘big’ will make him someone or add weight to his words! How can an association with something big is able to put weight behind your words?

The infinite itself has manifested in the form of human being so as to understand the REALITY after loosing it in childhood. It is just a game! This mountain moving trust on himself is needed in the beginning of one’s spiritual journey.

“When you are fetching wood, you are condemning it – you would like to be the president of some country. You don’t want to be a woodcutter. You go on condemning the present for some imaginary future. Carrying water from the well, you feel you are wasting your life. You are angry. You were not made for such ordinary things. You had come with a great destiny – to lead the whole world towards a paradise, some utopia. These are all ego trips. These are all ill states of consciousness. Just to be ordinary – and then suddenly what you call trivia is no longer trivia, what you call profane is no longer profane. Everything becomes sacred. Carrying wood becomes sacred. Fetching water from the well becomes sacred. When every act becomes sacred, when every act becomes meditative and prayerful, only then are you moving deeper into life – and then life opens all the mysteries to you. Then you are becoming capable. Then you are becoming receptive. The more receptive you become, the more life becomes available. This is my whole teaching: to be ordinary, to be so ordinary that the very desire to be extraordinary disappears. Only then can you be in the present; otherwise you cannot be in the present.”

“Wherever you are – fetching wood or sitting on the throne as a king or as a president or a prime minister – makes no difference. Wherever you are, you are yourself. If you are miserable in carrying wood, you will be miserable in being a president, because outside things can change nothing. If you are happy being a beggar, only then can you be happy being an emperor. There is no other way. Your happiness has something to do with your quality of consciousness. It has nothing to do with outside things. Unless you become awake, everything is going to make you more and more miserable. Once you are awake, everything brings tremendous happiness, tremendous benediction. It does not depend on anything else; it simply depends on the depth of your being, on your receptivity. Carry wood, and when carrying wood just carry wood – and enjoy the beauty of it. Don’t go on thinking of something else. Don’t compare it. This moment is tremendously beautiful. This moment can become a satori. This moment can become the moment of samadhi. Fetching water, be so totally in it that nothing is left outside. Fetching water, you are not there; only the process of fetching water is there. This is what nirvana is, enlightenment is.”

— Osho, Nirvana: The Last Nightmare: Learning to Trust in Life.

Available on Kindle in eBbok form.

So before enlightenment chop wood, carry water means live simple or minimalist life. Stay away from all such people in rat race but live in the world too at the same time by fulfilling your most basic responsibilities towards near amd dear ones.

Enlightenment transforms a person. The person is same as before but he starts living in a different realm. For example:

A hero during shooting of a movie has to play a role and during the role he acts as if he is the person in the role! But deep down, inside him, he too has mountain moving trust in himself being a person (hero) playing his role for this shooting as his responsibility towards his profession.

So in real life the actor knows about his REALITY before accepting his role he is going to play for that movie and during the shooting too.

Life is such a long drama that millions take birth in it and millions die in it every day, most even without knowing that it is just a drama. So being born inside a grand drama, growing young inside such drama and even condoling many for their death within the same drama makes a person realise that it is real and what he has chosen as his profession is actually his REALITY! So to develop a mountain moving trust inside himself that this is not reality but just a role he is playing in the grand drama-one needs to know the real REALITY or first.

But the case is just opposite the moment you realise your REALITY that is after your enlightenment, you are out of this drama immediately! Transformation is nothing but living same life Chop wood, carry water but now the mystic knows with a mountain moving trust deep inside his heart that this is just his role in grand existential drama that is being played from eternity to eternity.

Now his acts are dedicated to the existence itself like a Cuckoo’s song, or flowering of a flower etc. The act in itself is complete in all respect. Using the metaphor of ourselves being treated as an Atom which exhibit quantum states.

It is as if the Atom is enjoying or behaving as a wave as if no one is watching and is enjoying being the particle when someone is watching.

When asked this question to Open AI ChatGPT, it answered about ‘Chop wood carry water’ as : “The phrase “chop wood, carry water” is often used to refer to the idea of focusing on the basics of life and not getting caught up in unnecessary complications. It is a reminder to focus on the tasks and activities that are essential for our well-being and happiness, rather than getting distracted by things that are not as important. In other words, the phrase suggests that we should focus on the present moment and the practical tasks at hand, rather than getting caught up in worries or distractions.”

Here the Open AI could give simple answer but it has a subtle message that’s possible to understand by a real human being’s intelligence.

My experience shared here:-

Awareness meditation is the way worked for me, may be you too find it suitable otherwise Dynamic meditation is for most of the people. There are 110 other meditation techniques discovered by Indian Mystic Gorakhnath about 500years before and further modified by Osho that one can experiment and the suitable one could be practiced in routine life. 

My experiences may be of your help in taking only one step. Because everyone has to move forward alone, this is the nature of this journey.
In my life mindfulness or awareness meditation helped miraculously. Apart from that living a simple, authentic and totality in life is very helpful even when we are serving people around us with great love and care without discrimination.

Hi ….. I write my comments from my personal experiences of my inner journey. This post may include teachings of Mystics around the world which from my personal experience I found worth following even today. For more have a look at my linktree website for getting regular updates through social media lor subscribe to YouTube channel or listen to the podcasts etc.

For references of content on Osho, Copyright © OSHO International Foundation, An MP3 audio file of many discourses can be downloaded from Osho(dot)com or you can listen or watch most of his discourses @ OSHO International channel of YouTube where you can get subtitles in language of your choice or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library. Many of Osho’s books are available online at Amazon.

My suggestions:-

Osho International Online (OIO) provides facility to learn these Osho discovered Dynamic Meditations for new generation from your home, through Osho Meditation Day @€20.00 per person. You can learn Dynamic meditations from disciples of Osho.  OIO rotate times through three timezones NY,Berlin and Mumbai.

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