Before Enlightenment – Your Version

Last Updated on Teachings

Eric left the following as a comment on my last article:

Before enlightenment go to work, pay mortgage; after enlightenment go to work, pay mortgage. (An old Zen saying i just made up.)

I love it! A great re-working of a classic Zen saying. I got to thinking how to apply it specifically to my life right now, with regard to my daily activities. Here is one I thought of just now:

Before enlightenment, fix breakfast, take kid to school; after enlightenment, fix breakfast, take kid to school.

So, what I would like for you all to do is make up your own versions, using things from your life, and leave them in the comments. It would be fun to see how we can apply a wonderful Zen saying to each of our lives.

Looking forward to what you create. Namaste.


  • Mags | Woo-Woo Wisdom

    Cool idea, Tom! Here’s mine:

    Before enlightenment, feed cat, strip wallpaper;
    After enlightenment, feed cat, strip wallpaper.

  • CaterpillarWoman

    Before enlightenment, do laundry, cook dinner. After enlightenment, do laundry, cook dinner.

  • Takuin

    Before Enlightenment = (∞)

    After Enlightenment = {∞}

    Beyond Any Idea of Before or After = ∞

  • Ariel - We Are All One

    haha, fun idea Tom!

    Before enlightenment, have fun with life.
    After enlightenment, have fun with life.

    Takuin’s getting all fancy with us. ;)

  • Evan

    Before enlightenment: read feeds, leave comments on worthwhile posts.
    After enlightenment: read feeds, leave comments on worthwhile posts.

  • Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul

    Nice one, Takuin. My reaction, too, was that I wasn’t sure about the “before” and “after” bit. How about just:

    Enlightenment: drink coffee.

    Works for me! :-)


  • Davina

    Before enlightenment had gas.
    After enlightenment had gas.

  • gregorylent

    before enlightenment, hate people … after enlightenment, hate people …

  • Davidya

    Before Enlightenment, seek Enlightenment.
    After Enlightenment is a meaningless statement. (laughs)
    After and Enlightenment are both concepts. Neither has anything to do with being.

    The point I think of the original quote, and many of the comments, is that the mundane continues. The function, purpose and karma of the life are not changed by awakening. Even if we know this intellectually, seeing it is can still be a surprise.

  • Davidya

    Andrea – they say one can awake even on the smoke of a stinking bus. I guess coffee could qualify then. But then you said “works for me” and gave it away. (laughs)
    One could perhaps say:
    Before Enlightenment, I drink coffee.
    After Enlightenment, coffee is drunk.

    Davina – you may want to look at the diet. Ayerveda calls this excess Vata ;-)

    Gregory – if that is your role. If it is reactive though, the After will change. ;-)

  • Jarrod - Warrior Development

    It seems I had similar idea to Taukin

    Before enlightenment (everything)
    After enlightenment [everything]

    It’s all in the set notation…

  • Francis

    Hehe, cool, here comes mine:

    Before enlightenment, sleep, eat, work, go to toilet;
    After enlightenment, sleep, eat, work, go to toilet.

  • Tom Stine

    Hey everyone!!! I’m LOVIN’ the comments. Just what I wanted. Okay, a new one from me based upon recent events in my life:

    Before enlightenment: see Adyashanti, fly home, drink beer.
    After enlightenment: see myself, fly to Hawaii, drink sake.

    I’ll let you know about the Hawaii and sake. I haven’t been in a few years. Maybe Bora Bora instead. I’ve always wanted to see Bora Bora.

  • Master Yoda

    Tom, another way of saying that is:

    Before enlightenment, I see you.
    After enlightenment, I see me.

  • Slade | Shift Your Spirits

    Before Enlightenment, talk and listen. After Enlightenment listen and talk.

    Tom, I will toast you with some saki from Kona next month!

  • Duff

    Before enlightenment, seeking personal development.
    After enlightenment, enjoying leaves fall.

  • Padma

    Before enlightenment, stress, cry, suffer

    After enlightenment, live, laugh, and love

  • john

    b4 enlightenment : God = Big daddy in the sky
    after : God = me(i.e everything)

  • Brendan

    Before Enlightenment-Quit my job to find Enlightenment
    After Enlightenment-Sh*t I still got to pay the bills!

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