Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

The Ecstasy Is IN the Laundry

Before enlightenment chop wood carry water. After enlightenment chop wood carry water. ~Zen saying

Reflecting the wisdom of this saying, Jack Kornfield titled one of his books “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.” The point of both the saying and the title is that we might have peak mystical experiences of awakening, but then it’s time to pick up the kids from school, feed the dog, and yes, do the laundry. The angels that visited us seem to have gone elsewhere. The sunset so glorious that it brought us to tears fades. We come down off the psychedelic experience of dissolving into the vast oneness of the universe. We come face to face with God and then face to face with ourselves in the mirror while we’re brushing our teeth. Life can seem quite dreary in comparison to a marvelous moment of enlightenment.

That is, until we realize that the mystical permeates the mundane. When we look at our lives with the same eyes that saw transcendent truth, the veneer of ordinariness falls away to reveal the extraordinary miracle of absolutely everything. There is no longer a need to seek certain experiences judged “spiritual” or to dismiss those deemed unremarkable. Chopping wood, carrying water, and doing the laundry become sacred acts of devotion. Sparkling dewdrops on a spider web are as exquisite as diamonds. That dog you have to feed and the children whining in the back seat bring you the precious gift of love with all its many faces. Every heartbeat, every breath is amazing. Even feeling tired and cranky brings its own blessing when accepted and embraced with compassion.

Someone asked me once, “Who am I to be enlightened?” I responded, “Who are you not to be?” Like the joke says, “What’s the difference between an enlightened person and an unenlightened person? The unenlightened person thinks there’s a difference.” Whatever is happening this moment is the stuff of enlightenment. In fact, enlightenment is so common and ever available that we can drop the term enlightenment altogether. There is nothing else, nothing “out there” to find or to be. This is it. In this moment. It is beautiful. And it is perfect.

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. ~Matthew 13:16

8 thoughts on “The Ecstasy Is IN the Laundry”

  1. summed to three words: Be Awesome Aware (BAA). If sheep can do it, so can I! Thanks for your insights!

  2. Trista Ainsworth

    Love this! Indeed, there are glorious moments in our everyday lives. I love this post! My gym has: chop wood, carry water on the wall!

    1. That is a pretty enlightened gym! Before enlightenment lift weights. After enlightenment lift weights! Ha! Thanks for commenting.

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