Home Discussion Forum Does anyone else chop wood, carry water?

Does anyone else chop wood, carry water?

I’m not a Zen practitioner per se, but I do subscribe to some of the philosophy and I find that I get a form of meditation out of some mundane tasks. I’ve always been this way I think, but I’ve become more conscience of it in the past few years.
EDIT: I should have quoted my source:
Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.
— Zen proverb


  1. Hey, I’ll agree! Gardening, watering, raking leaves, even taking a walk or riding my bike gets me in a form of meditation! I feel a distinct calm once I have finished plus a satisfaction of a work well done! Just wish I could get my son to understand that! This year I am hoping to include shoveling snow! And, no I am not kidding or being facetious, I am really looking forward to it!

  2. Those aren’t mundane tasks in most areas of industrialized countries these days.
    I don’t think the quaintness of a chore or lack thereof would necessarily affect its meditative value.

  3. Up until last year I chopped, split, toted, and stacked 4-5 cords of wood each year…. Last year and this yar I payed someone else to do it.. Well worth $1,000.00 it cost me for 5 cords chopped, split, delivered, toted, and stacked..
    When I want to meditate I do stretches and systematically relax my different muscle groups… I have never found chopping wood or other mundane tasks relaxing, maybe it’s due to the constant string of explatives I always seem to subvocalize during said task…

  4. I don’t do it for Zen, but for exercise, I burn wood in the winter in my fireplace so right about now is the time that i start to cord it(chop it into smaller pieces) its great exercise and it gives me time to think and be alone for a while, and i also buy bottled water for the house( water cooler) but my son handles that. I think any kinda of exercise is therapeutic, and a great stress reliever.
    I have started to do these things in place of worshiping, and i have left my Christianity and have followed a more enlightened path, and upon doing these things my depression has lessened and my nightmares (PTSD) have dwindled I also have cut back on the meds.
    So call it what you want But as for me and my house we will serve ourselves

  5. The repetitive scything of the hand push lawnmower, the random steps of two dogs to be controlled on leashes, the sweeping of a large porch, washing dishes, all these things may be done without reflection and intensive thought but must be attended to on a practical level. There is a flow to them that allows energy through, although they are tiring to the body. They are useful; I also find pure meditation in the movement of walking, swimming and yoga. Moving meditation, I sometimes call them.

  6. I come from a very city-fied family. Air conditioning, paved streets, revolving doors, new cars, etc. I moved to the mountains. My husband taught me how to chop firewood, stack it, chop kindling, and build a fire. I have to tell you, I kicked and screamed like a mule at first, but nowadays, it really is theraputic for me. Meditative is the perfect description. It’s not so much the cathartic aspect as it is the ‘time for myself, time to think’ kind of thing. I think it’s great now!

  7. I’m a practicing Wiccan, but I know what you mean. I worked in this small downtown shop years ago. Every morning I had to sweep the hardwood floor and get the store ready to open.
    Every morning as I swept I felt that same way. I also tried to visualize myself sweeping out all the negativity from the day before so this day could start fresh. That method of creative visualization and pathworking impacted other aspects of my life as well.

  8. Glad I’m not the only one “carrying water”…I live in a camper and the plumbing leaks..so I have to carry gallon jugs over to my son’s house & get water. I call it going to the “well”. lol No big deal…just an inconvenience.Sure never connected it with Zen.!

  9. I also found out that the more meditative one can be in one’s daily life with ‘all tasks’, the faster one’s awareness will grow. But this took many years of sitting meditation to accomplish. I read this book and liked it as well and also ‘present moment only moment’ and while I had it as a concept, it was very difficult for me to remember to do it. I kept getting lost. But that didn’t stop me, neither should it stop anyone else.
    Seeing this affect everytime, then it made my resolve stronger to not get lost like that, in my thoughts, because I started to see how much I was missing of life while busy entertaining my thinking. An hour could go by like that very fast having no connection at all with what was going on around me, such as birds, wind, sun, etc. I could drive in the car and be present, yet not really aware of potential for accidents. A near miss would shake me out of my sleepy state and showed me again how dangerous it could be to not stay aware. Smashing one’s thumb with a hammer, falling off a ladder, or getting a splinter can also be those kinds of reminders. With my desire to be able to ‘stay present’ combined with daily practise of sitting meditation for many years on the cushion, eventually I was able to move the meditation off the cushion and into my daily life. It’s harder to stay aware when one is active vs. in sitting meditation, simply because one’s energy is dispersed into doing action related tasks. When sitting all one’s energy is available to meditate.


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