At Perfect Attention To The World

trauma_farm

Cutting wood means losing yourself – the way you do in meditation… Zen monks long ago learned the meaning behind woodcutting. ‘I pump water, I cut wood. How wonderful!’ Their texts are full of such quotes: ‘When chopping wood, chop wood. When breathing, breath.’ My favourite is attributed to a particularly venerated sage: ‘Before enlightenment, I chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, I chop wood and carry water.’

Perhaps we woodcutters are all students of the Catholic monk Saint Benedict of Nursia, who said, ‘to work is to pray.’ Cutting firewood, moving fluidly yet living inside the cave of the body, is a kinesthetic meditation. Every log holds the possibility of enlightenment – the moment the blade drives through, following the grain, splitting its linear universe. It’s the poetry of the everyday, the kind those monks preach; the ability to find the extraordinary in ordinary life – like a wolf on the hunt, at perfect attention to the world.

— Brian Brett, Trauma Farm, p.245

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