Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Dao of Manual Labor

I'm a landscaper. At least, that's what I do to pay my rent and feed myself. So today, like most other days, I was outside, digging holes and planting trees. Now you may not know this, but the temperature here in sunny Austin, TX has been firmly in the triple digits for a few weeks now. All this is to say: physically, my day was miserable. So, why do I continue to put myself through these kinds of days?
To be fair, I think it's partially an inherent masochism that all Texans are born with, living where we do. But it's also because manual labor has become part of my spiritual practice. In fact, I've found that by applying my attention, or energy, to anything can make it into a magical experience. So by tuning in to my Will while I labor in weather most sensible people refuse to even go out in, it can become a crucible for the development of my connection with God Herself.
So, having learned that, it follows that the same principle can be migrated to other areas of life. Typing this blog post is magical practice, as is drinking my coffee, as is feeding my cat. For me, what truly makes any experience a bridge to divinity is the presence of my own divine mind. By drinking coffee and feeding my cat with intention, I shift those actions out of the realm of the supposedly mundane, and into the realm of mystery. And isn't life so much more interesting that way?


  1. I remember this old book called "Chop wood. Carry water." I honestly never read the whole thing, it was sitting on a shelf at Borders where I used to work. I was the responsible party for the Religion and Spirituality Section. Go figure.

    I think living with intention, or just the intention of living with intention is a
    great practice for anyone of any tradition, religion, or spiritual heritage because it is a challenge: To apply our talk to our own walk.

    I also think that there is a greater spiritual movement found in doing spirit rather than contemplating it. Kind of like an unmarried marriage counselor, or a child psychologist with no children. (There may be a better comparable there but my Dirty Chai Latte has not kicked in yet).

    There is also something grand about simplicity. It feels like people want to have these big enormous "spiritual awakenings" where bells ring and the voice of a Deity booms out, *insert pop illumination*, and then the world is made right. Lately in my own meditations and journey I'm in the listening space that smaller is bigger. Quieter is louder. Doing with what I have here and now is the path to follow. This expands the world, my relationships, and increases my intimacy and connection to the world I live in.

    Am I an expert at it? Well, no, I'm human at it. That's natural, I'm okay with imperfection. Keep blogging. Massage out the message, get focused and expand!

  2. Hey thanks a lot for your viewpoint and encouragement! Blogger solidarity is vital!