Here’s a vignette on that theme excerpted from by book Signs of the Zodiac: Clothing of the Self
“Before enlightenment chopping wood, carrying water; after enlightenment chopping wood, carrying water” – Zen Aphorism
Zen Buddhism, it seems to me, has a strongly Capricornian flavour, ruthlessly applying the Zen stick to any tendencies to romanticized spiritual glamour. This flavour is captured in the classic aphorism quoted above, yet even more stripped back to the bare essentials is this one: “When hungry eat; when tired sleep”. So earthy and to the point, its radical simplicity allows absolutely no room for argument or punditry! The natural Zen progression from there is to simply keep quiet, all the better to hear ‘the sound of one hand clapping’. Western sage Alan Watts, a Sun sign Capricorn, applied the Zen stick to Zen itself in his influential work The Way of Zen, demystifying it for a western readership and stripping away the ascetic glamour sometimes attached to the practice of formal zazen meditation.
Author Henry Miller, another Sun sign Capricorn, came to a similar Zen flavoured wisdom in old age. Here he strips away the glamour from the romanticized view of artistic creation so common in the West: “Man … discovers as he attains fulfillment or a state of grace, if you like, that there is something beyond the mere act of creating. He comes to realize that it is not necessary to paint or describe in words what he sees around him. He learns to let things be. He discovers that simply by looking the world in the face everything he comes in contact with is a bit of a masterpiece. Why improve on it? Why make a fuss about it? Enjoy what you see, that’s quite enough. The man who can do this is the accomplished artist. His creative merit lies in the ability to recognize and acknowledge that which has been created and which will elude forever his limited comprehension.”