Get Zen at the Office: Chop Wood, Send E-Mail

Flip, spit. Flip, spit, Flip, spit. One page after another ejects from your printer as you print out hard copies of important e-mail messages each morning. Beep, beep, beep. Dial into your voicemail to pick up messages. Check, check, check. Audit the inventory. Click, click, click. Complete the required forms. Empty, fill, pour. Another pot of coffee ready.

Not everyone has the type of job that offers new and exciting experiences each day. Most of us do ordinary work, over and over and over. It’s hard to believe that such monotony could be considered spiritual practice, but when viewed from the perspective of Zen Buddhism, it all makes sense.

The Way of the Monks

When picturing the life of a Buddhist monk, you might imagine a serene atmosphere of meditation, yoga, and silent prayer. You are probably less likely to visualize monks performing hours of manual labor, such as sweeping, scrubbing, and polishing floors; cleaning toilets; or pulling weeds in a garden. But this type of work is indeed part of a monk’s daily life, a part that is considered no less important than the more esoteric spiritual practices.

As described in the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water,” the root meaning of the word “ordinary” refers to that which is in harmony with the order present in the natural environment—the ebb and flow cycles of nature. When we become more mindful of the natural rhythms of the universe and our connection to that flow, we begin to infuse our otherwise mundane activity with meaning.

The Sacredness of the Ordinary

When we view each moment of our work day as sacred, as an opportunity to reflect, grow, and harmonize—rather than anxiously counting down the minutes to quitting time—we experience an extraordinary fullness. We realize that the paycheck is just part of the purpose of work. The rest is about being fully alive in all that we do… again and again and again.

What’s ahead for your career path? Try a psychic reading. Call 1.800.573.4830 or choose your psychic now.

7 thoughts on “Get Zen at the Office: Chop Wood, Send E-Mail

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  5. Brian F Byrnes

    During the last 20 years of my work life, I opened mail by machine and often told my coworkers that this was like
    a situation which was perfect for zen. Rather than resent the constant repetition, I would finish my work day
    feeling tired but relaxed. Now as a senior citizen volunteer, my favorite job is stuffing envelopes for not profit
    organizations, and because I continue the zen principles and respect the work that I am doing, I have gained a
    reputation as the most desirable volunteer.

  6. Jacqueline

    Hi Theresa,
    Love this article would enjoy reading more, this applies to so many of us in the real world, many people wanting to live a higher spiritual life everyday but finding it a struggle, some pointers that I find helpful is always have some kind of spiritual music playing in the background of my home even if you cant hear it all the time it still brings positive energy around you, everything that brings in a realm of higher energy will bring balance of higher enlightenment into your life, tools such as crystals, stones, candles, incense, oils what-ever you are drawn to is a sign of tools that you are to use.

    Remember it is important to go through the motions of life but, don’t get emotionally attached to the outcome of our everyday dealings.

    Blessings and Big Hugs!
    Jacqueline x9472

  7. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    This is an excellent article……..

    As a professional career psychic, I learned these principles a very long time ago……if applied every day, every moment, they become habit……a peaceful, healthy habit that promotes consistent and harmonic smooth flow of energy.


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