Off to the Grocery Store

From Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist teacher:

We have within us an extraordinary capacity for love, for joy and unshakeable freedom.  Buddhist psychology describes this as optimal mental health.  I have seen this optimal well-being in many of my teachers.  Ajahn Jumnien describes his mind as completely steady, silent and free, throughout both his waking and sleeping hours.  He says, “I haven’t experienced a single moment of frustration or anger for over twenty years.”  I’ve also observed that he sleeps only one or two hours a night. 

 Ajahn Jumnien describes his inner life quite simply: “When I’m alone, my mind rests in pure awareness.  I am simply at peace.  Then, whenever I encounter people and experiences, the awareness automatically fills with lovingkindness or compassion.  This is the natural expression of pure awareness.”  All those around Ajahn Jumnien feel his free spirit and unshakeable joy.

Well.  I’m about to go out to the Real Canadian Superstore for some necessaries.  Will I live these words within the four walls, and as I drive to and from?  I’ll let you know.  (However, I’m not up for the part about one or two hours of sleep.)


Okay, I’m back.  Pretty uneventful, I guess.  No road rage or shopping cart rage to stress me out.  No need for anger.  I was quite peaceful and had some moments when people needed my love and compassion.  So I gave them what they needed.

Here are some people and moments I came upon:

1.  Driving on our home road, I passed an older gentleman I’ve met before, walking towards me.  He’s always been friendly but this time he didn’t wave back.  I felt sad and watched love burst through the windshield towards him. On some level, I know he received it.

2.  In front of our local psychiatric hospital, I saw a young man in a grey hoodie lighting a cigarette.  What is his life like, I wondered?  What demons assail him?  Does he have love in his life?

3.  Waiting behind another car at an intersection, expecting to turn left on this light.  But when the traffic suddenly thickened, a little nudge of frustration knocked me off centre.  Only a bit.  I was soon on track again.

4.  I noticed how slowly I was walking as I approached the store, and inside it. The rhythm was lovely.  It was like floating through the aisles.

5.  I made eye contact near the produce department with a fellow in his 30s. He returned the favour but I didn’t smile at him.  I felt disappointed about my contraction but quickly forgave myself for being human.

6.  I saw a pudgy middle-aged guy walking in front of me with his arms behind his back.  He had wrapped the fingers of one hand around the fingers of the other and was pulling hard.  I felt something very tight coming off him, and again I felt sad.

7.  I couldn’t find food colouring in the baking aisle and it was my turn for tightness.  I finally located the stuff – small bottles of blue, green and red. But the tag said there should have been a variety box sitting there as well – cheaper.  Nothing.  The compressing deepened a bit and then drifted away.

8.  A teenaged girl with what I guessed to be Down Syndrome was pushing a cart with her head down.  Her face was really puffy and her mother seemed to be urging her on to greater speed.  Compassion from me to her.

9.  I felt like talking in the checkout lineup and picked the woman behind me. I noticed that she had laid down two tall bottles of juice on the belt.  I mentioned to her that I’d never thought of doing that, despite having had tall objects fall over many times in the past.  Smiles all around.

Pretty ordinary stuff, I’d say.  Not in the league of Ajahn Jumnien.  But still a nice way to walk in the world.

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