There’s a Zen proverb that says, Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
Or as Jack Kornfield, a Theravadan teacher, says in the title of one of his books: After the Ecstasy, The Laundry.
All of which points to the idea that when we become enlightened – if we become enlightened – we don’t get to sit under a tree and withdraw from the business of the world. We don’t go poof! and find ourselves on a higher plane of existence where there is no more need for mundane tasks.
We stay in the world, and the tasks stay the same -- we see them differently. How does that happen? Through meditation.
The Buddha, in the Sattipattana Sutta, listed seven factors of enlightenment, which are the results of a meditation practice:
Mindfulness, or knowing what is happening in this very moment.
Investigation of mental objects (such as thoughts, emotions, labels).