While we are focused on spirituality, ascension, awakening, deepening, enlightenment and higher consciousness, well, sometimes life gets in the way, doesn’t it? It would be nice if we could just be in a constant state of Nirvana or Samadhi and never have to come down to Earth and do anything mundane, right? It would be nice if we didn’t have schedules to meet and physical tasks to do.
No such luck being a human, though! This is still a hands-on reality, and things don’t get done by themselves. Maybe someday we can clean our bathrooms with a flick of the pony tail or a wiggle of the nose, but that day in human evolution is not here yet.
After all, you still have to earn a living while you’re attaining spiritual knowledge. You still have to take care of the kids while you’re discovering the mysteries of the universe. You still have to clean the cat litter box while you’re awakening to your true nature as eternal being in human form. You still have to fix the bed even while you are becoming Christ Consciousness. Right?
In fact, it can get downright ugly to be a human! Sometimes you have to get in the trenches and battle it out with somewhat non-evolved specimens of the human race. You might even have to get “dirty” doing it, use the law, or rock the boat. Being a spiritual person does not mean that you must let everyone walk all over you, and sometimes you have to defend your rights, your space, your family, your friends, and your very way of life, or act quite human in order to get your needs met. All sorts of things come up that challenge your zen. Being human is no small matter.
So how do you find meaning in all this? How do you make being human a divine experience?
My spiritual path
For decades during my spiritual path, I did quite mundane tasks for a living. I cleaned toilets in bars for a living in the mornings and waited tables at night. I painted houses and cleaned offices. I did yard work, office work, driving, sweating it out on a farm, all kinds of things for a living. Needless to say, none of these jobs were spiritually fulfilling to me. I felt destined for something more meaningful, but it seemed ever elusive. I thought I would never get to the point where I was doing something important in life. In fact, I became really discouraged at times, wondering if I would ever amount to anything more than a maid, a painter or a waitress.
There came a day when I realized that this was exactly what was needed in my spiritual training, or I wouldn’t be in this situation. Somehow, I had to make peace with being just an ordinary person doing ordinary things for a living. I realized I had to find meaning, or let go of the need for meaning, in everything that I did in life. Some things seemed to have meaning, like my meditations, study and self introspection, while others seemed to completely lack meaning, like the mundane tasks of life.
How could my whole life have meaning, not just part of it? That became my spiritual quest at the time, to find meaning in absolutely everything, or transcend the need for any of it to have meaning whatsoever. Since at the time I was cleaning barroom toilets and floors for a living, this was an extra challenge! I felt it was the perfect opportunity to explore this part of my growth, and in fact, cleaning toilets for a living became one of the most enlightening, humbling, and eye opening experiences of my whole spiritual journey.
Have a good time
As I wiped throw up off toilets and floors in Key West, FL, a vacation spot for many people and where getting drunk to the point of throwing up was something a lot of people did there, I thought about how this affected those people. We all like to go out and have a good time, right? It’s therapeutic after a long week of work, or good for a short vacation, which all of us have so few of. My idea of a good time isn’t getting so drunk to the point that I have to throw up, but for some people it is. So how was I contributing to their good time, their therapy, their time with loved ones and friends? How was I helping them? What was the meaning of my work?
I was creating a clean place for them to use the bathroom, and even to throw up in. I created a venue where they could have a memorable moment that they would always look back on with fondness. I was setting up a situation where they could have an event in consciousness that was meaningful to them. Without me, none of this would be possible. I was in service. I had always wanted to be of service to others, and this is just one form of many kinds of service. My idea of being in service at the time was being of spiritual service, but that’s not the only kind of service people need. At this time in my life, this was the kind of service I was providing to humanity.
To be in service
The physical world is what it is. Things need to be cleaned, built, assembled, disassembled, reassembled, maintained, and everything in between. At the office, emails must be answered, phone calls must be returned, and bank books need to be balanced. At this time, physical reality is a hands-on kind of reality. Bathrooms don’t just clean themselves. Maybe someday we can “think” things clean or build them with our minds, but at this time, we just have to roll up the shirt sleeves and get it done! So who is going to be doing the cleaning if everyone is too “lofty” to be in service this way? How will we have a clean place to meditate and explore the mysteries of the universe if no one is willing to clean the rooms and the toilets?
I saw the situation clearly, that we all have to do our fair share of the mundane work, and at different points in our lives we might be in service in ways we do not prefer, and we might have to do more than our share of the mundane work while we build our businesses and right livelihood. For instance, it’s pretty normal that younger people have to do more of the mundane tasks while they get their education, build their businesses, and later get to a point where they are successful enough financially to pay other people to do the mundane tasks, possibly new young people who are hopeful upstarts looking for their life purpose and work. It’s what’s called “paying your dues.” Most of us have to start in the mailroom in the basement while we’re young before we get to be chief editor of the newspaper once we’re older.
I knew I wouldn’t be in that situation forever, having to make a living cleaning toilets, but I knew that it was in my life for this moment to learn something from it. I stopped resisting it, and decided to face the suffering I was creating in my mind because of it. It was not a pleasant task. Believe me, they party hard down there in Key West and make quite a mess!
I suffered because I felt it was just so degrading to be doing this work. I was too good for this. How could it have turned out like this, with all my education, all my spiritual knowledge, all my evolution? How did I end up being a maid? In my mind, I was supposed to be a spiritual teacher, helping people in their quest for spiritual knowledge. I was supposed to be something else entirely. Or was I? My self-importance issues were truly being challenged.
To find peace in this mundane life I was leading, I had to let go of everything I hoped to be in the future. I had to just be in the moment, cleaning toilets, with peace in my heart and mind, accepting where I was in life. I pretended I was God, or an angel sometimes, washing the toilets, which is the truth, actually, since God is our consciousness. It’s all one being living all these lives. I asked myself, “How would God or an angel approach cleaning bar-room toilets? What would be God’s mindset? What would be in God’s heart? How would an angel clean toilets? How can cleaning toilets be a divine experience?”
Just asking those questions changed the whole experience. Most people looked at me as just the unimportant cleaning girl who comes in the mornings to wipe up the mess from the night before, and some people couldn’t even give me the time of the day. However, once I had my epiphany, it didn’t bother me anymore. It also didn’t bother me that I hadn’t amounted to anything in life yet either, and I wasn’t attached to whether I would amount to anything or not. Who determines what “amounting to something” is, anyway? Is not a person who lives an ordinary life just as important to God’s experience of self as a famous person who leads nations?
Just realizing that you are divinity in the flesh, that is enough. That is all that is important. While people looked at me as “just the cleaning girl,” I was secretly grinning inside because I had just discovered one of the most powerful and important spiritual truths that can be discovered, all while cleaning throw up off a bar-room toilet. Divine truth was revealed to me. It did not matter what I was doing, I was still divinity no matter what, whether cleaning toilets or speaking to people in a spiritual seminar. It didn’t matter.
Under my nose
It was a humbling, and exhilarating, at the same time. From then on, I did not look at people the same. I did not judge people’s spiritual levels anymore by their success or lack of success, or what kind of work they were doing. I immediately realized that there could be a Buddha hiding under the disguise of “janitor” anywhere, right there under my nose, just like I was a “janitor” Buddha. Suddenly, out of the woodwork, I started discovering many very enlightened people doing quite mundane tasks that you would not assume a person of those spiritual “levels” would be doing.
I was pretty young, in my early 20s when I discovered this, and I would have missed out on meeting so many amazing people if I had continued through life just judging everyone’s spiritual level by their physical manifestations. Like many people do, I judged whether someone was truly enlightened by what they had going on at the physical plane level. Little did I realize at the time that that has nothing to do with spiritual enlightenment.
You see, it’s all the same. Nothing really changes on the outside. It only changes on the inside. A single mom with three kids holding two jobs can be just as enlightened, possibly even more enlightened, than a fancy dressed guru sitting on a throne dispersing spiritual teachings to multitudes of people. A janitor might have more insight into the mysteries of the universe than a best-selling, self-help author who makes gobs of money with followers everywhere. In fact, some of the most enlightened people I have ever met are living very simple lives and don’t have a lot of money. I experienced more wisdom coming from a common lawn mower guy living peacefully in a shack than I ever have from a lofty famous spiritual teacher. That lawn mower man really knew how to be present in the ever unfolding eternal now, more than all the spiritual teachers who talk about it.
Sure, maybe some day you will be a spiritual teacher recognized for your work if that is something you aspire to, maybe not. However, that does not change the fact that you are a spiritual teacher, if that is what you are, right now! Even as I cleaned toilets for the rest of that year, being fully at peace with the mundane-ness of my life, I was a spiritual teacher to those around me. There were a few people who noticed I was unusual for a cleaning girl, that I went about it without hating it like most people do. Sometimes during the 15-minute breaks we would get into deep conversations about spirituality, or even talk while we were working. Sometimes I had the opportunities to share what I had to share. Other times there weren’t the openings.
A budding Buddha
Either way, I was happy. Secretly I knew that I was a budding Buddha disguised as a toilet cleaner, learning one of the most important spiritual lessons of my life, which would change how I approach mundane tasks in life forever. Mundane tasks cannot be escaped by most of us, no matter how awakened we get. Sure, maybe there’s the guru here and there who everyone serves and doesn’t have to do anything mundane, but that’s not the norm — and might even be an abuse of power.
Gandhi even cleaned toilets. Did you know that? At his compound, everyone had assigned tasks, rotating through the most unpleasant ones so no one person had to do the unpleasant tasks all the time, like cleaning the latrine. Gandhi’s wife got very upset when he put himself and her on the rotating list for cleaning the latrines. She said, “But you are the leader! You are the one everyone is looking up to! Why should you be cleaning latrines? This is ridiculous!” He explained to her that no one man’s time is more valuable than another’s, not even his.
I have to say, that was one seriously enlightened chap! Gandhi is possibly the one I respect the most out of all the spiritual leaders I have ever heard of, just for that statement alone. I have to admit that I get really disgusted by the multitudes of spiritual leaders and teachers around these days who everyone is serving hand and foot, and they wouldn’t even THINK of cleaning a toilet, since there are so many devotees who will do it for them. I consider that an abuse of power, and a self-importance trap.
There is a saying in Buddhist teachings: “Before I was enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water. After I was enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water.” There is nothing that says it in a nutshell quite like that. Before you were spiritually awakened, life had mundane tasks in it, and after you are spiritually awakened, life still has mundane tasks in it. It’s all in how you approach them that changes. That is all. Enlightenment is nothing more.
The suffering stopped
Once I retrieved the pearl of wisdom from the experience and started to do my task with joy and non-attachment to anything else being my reality, accepting fully that I was just a “lowly” toilet cleaner and I was still divinity anyway, no matter what I was doing, then the suffering stopped.
Budding Buddhas are everywhere. Humanity is awakening in leaps and bounds, and a snowball effect is happening, gathering speed. Who knows how many Buddhas are walking around in the local supermarket or pumping gas at the local gas station? How many Buddhas clean toilets? Is that a Buddha who is waiting on your table at the restaurant? Is that a Buddha who just drove by in a road cleaning machine? Is that a Buddha fixing your banister on your house? What is enlightenment supposed to really look like? Does anything really change?
It is ALL divine, not just some of it. All of life is a meditation for the soul. All of life is God dreaming, through you. Next time you wash the dishes, see how it feels to wash them if you are Eternal Being, Godself or Buddha washing them. What would it be like? How would the experience be different? Put yourself fully in the now. Forget what you want to become, what you’re “supposed” to be, or who you wish you were. Be here fully in this mundane task, and be in service to humanity, just as you are, cleaning the toilet! Even enlightened people still have to clean a toilet now and then, or at least some kind of mundane task.
Now, the real awakening came when I realized that none of it had meaning at all! Not even something as lofty as being a spiritual teacher has meaning. It’s just something you’re doing, an experience you are having, adding to the mass consciousness memory bank in God’s mind. Godself wants to experience it all, from being the toilet cleaner to being the lofty, well-respected spiritual leader, and everything in between. When you die and start passing into the other dimensions, nothing you were doing on the Earth matters. Nothing.
When you leave the Earth, your whole life becomes but a memory in the mind of God, a wisp of a dream that passed quite quickly in the perception of Eternal Self, an entry in the akashic library of God’s experiences. It doesn’t matter who you were mad at, who you were in love with, what you were doing, what you experienced, what your plans were, not even your family is important anymore. None of it is important when you suddenly find yourself in the vastness of self that you really are. All it becomes is an entry in the memory banks.
Experience of the game
I have crossed over and had a near-death experience, twice in this lifetime, and both times, whatever was going on in Earth reality was completely unimportant. It was like an interrupted video game that you could just start over whenever you wanted, and the video game was just for fun, since you knew it wasn’t real, and it didn’t matter if you even won, since it’s more about the experience of the game than winning.
The real enlightenment happens when you stop looking for meaning in everything, and just find the experience alone as being meaningful enough. After all, why is consciousness doing all this? Because it can. That’s all. There is no particular goal or outcome. There is no finish line to reach. It is all about having the experience of this or that. That is what the meaning of life is, to experience fully. That is what God is trying to do, explore Self fully. God is trying to experience absolutely everything it can from every possible perspective, and discover itself through this activity within its consciousness. All of this is but a journey of self-discovery for God, and you are part of that self-discovery process God is experiencing.
So, if you are cleaning toilets for a living right now, well, for some reason God is experiencing that, along with the frustration of it, through you. You are part of God’s self-exploration journey, and through you, God is discovering Self. See what you can contribute to Godself’s journey with your experience, no matter how lofty or mundane it might be. You are God dreaming, so if you are God dreaming and you are cleaning toilets, do it with full lucidity! Be awake in the dream.
OK, well, I’m writing this article on a day full of really boring administrative stuff I have to do, and also when I am about to do the task of the weekly house cleaning. That includes cleaning toilets! So off I go to clean a couple toilets! I know it’s politically incorrect to say one is enlightened, so that’s not exactly what I’m saying since it’s an ever-unfolding process. One never truly reaches enlightenment, because real enlightenment is a deepening in self discovery that never ends, but I’m going to say this anyway, since it’s so fitting to this conversation! Forgive me!
Before I was enlightened, I cleaned toilets. After I was enlightened, I cleaned toilets!
What a great article! Thank you so much Christine. My own experience parallels yours, different jobs, but finding the Devine in the mundane.And realizing it was there all along.Bringing Heaven to Earth in the act of picking up the garbage. Love and blessings to you. Mary
“That is what the meaning of life is, to experience fully. That is what God is trying to do, explore Self fully.”
These are great words to live by Christine.
I believe the more we can live simply, and feel all there is to feel(even in mundate experiences) the more we are connected to awareness/oneness/god – and the less problems we create because our awareness increases.
Great post – Thanks for the inspiration!
This was a fantastic article, thank you so much. As someone trying to make a career change to what I truly want to do but is currently working a day job, this article provided a great and uncommon insight for me.
“You are God dreaming, so if you are God dreaming and you are cleaning toilets, do it with full lucidity! Be awake in the dream.”
I would go infinitely further than this, as it (do it with full lucidity! ) implies a need or ability to be able to BE or DO something. Such belief or effort is illusion and at best will just create ‘strife’.
inspiration, motivation, effort …. is more of the same unconscious dream
Impossible to infer but – there’s nothing that can be done or will be done. No soul, no reincarnation, no future, no inspiration, no up, no down – no separation.