One of my favorite saings by Lao Tsu is Carrying water and chopping wood before enlightenment. After Enlightenment, Carrying water and chopping wood. I was reminded of this saying after seeing the movie Up In The Air. It is sort of an uneventful movie in which George Cluney’s character flies around the world firing people for a living. When the movie was over my wife who was watching with me says “that movie was not all that good”. I totally understood where she was comming from because of how slow it seemed to be, but my response was “actually that was a great movie”. When she asked why I thought is was so good, I told her that it’s only good if you get the message. When asked what was the message, I replied carrying water and chopping wood before enlightenment, after enlightenment, carrying water and chopping wood. She then asked my to explain in english.
I reminded her of how he started out firing people all over the world and in the end when he had a choice whether to go back to doing that, after having some hard knocks and getting growth on account of them, and being somewhat enlightened, he still chose to live what seemed to be the same seeming empty life, of being on the road all the time and firing people for a living. The difference was after the growth and lessons he was a different person. He was more compassionate and gave to the people in his world. It was no longer about him. He was an enlighened giver. He went back to the same job and had a new approach. He helped the people he was letting go and cared.
We often think “when I become enlightened I am going to do this, and do that, and be way over there”. That may or may not be the case. But as hard as it can be to believe, more important than what we do or where we go, is how we do it and who we are as we go through this life. Our job is to get the lesson right where we are, become enlightened and share our light with the world.