When I first started checking groceries at my supermarket, it was generally expected of us employees to maintain pleasant but idle chatter with the customers. While I proved eerily efficient at doing so, talking constantly has its downside in that it doesn’t let you think.

Well, that all changed when we were taken over by a big, friggin’-huge conglomerate of a superchain-supermarket some months back.

Now, we do not speak to the customers so much, except for direct queries, such as, “ Paper or plastic?”, or “Do you have your value card today?” Save for the occasional customer who actually likes talking about nothing in particular, this means that we can spend most of our time in introspective silence.

Nothing better for achieving Enlightenment. Because, think about it, you’re on your feet in a single position for five, six, seven, eight hours. You go inside, you find your place, and the world bleeds through your skin...

One useful technique, though not particularly surprising, is visualization. One tries to imagine the stream of groceries, the concentrated juice, the packaged meat, the miscellaneous collections of aluminum cans, as an actual stream passing you by while you sit, content, on a lichen-covered boulder. Or, you imagine it as rain coming down on you, never stopping. Or, you imagine yourself falling through clouds of dust, the specks of dust rushing at you without end.

Eventually, the supermarket’s colors fade and time moves on a different scale, and you forget where you are exactly, but for the blissful feeling of inner peace.

Another, slightly more Zennish approach, is to become increasingly aware of your body. Focus first on your breathing, and then on the physical motions of your body. The key is mindfulness. You begin by focusing on your breathing, and then you are aware of your heartbeat and how a wave of perspiration flashes down your body, head down, followed by a slowly receding coolness.

This technique is a bit more fragile and easily interrupted by customer complaints. Of course, you can always come to view the complaints as the passing leaves on a stream, and thus incorporate them into your meditation, but this is decidedly more difficult to do.

My preferred technique is to approach Enlightenment the same way I approach any number of subjects I face myself with while checking groceries all day long, which is, I begin by presenting myself with an idea. If the idea is Enlightenment, I ask myself: What is the substance of my perception?

Suppose, for example, there is no such thing as I, well, no person anyway. Perhaps this perception of sentience, which I consider “myself,” is no more than the confluence of several actions of otherwise inanimate matter. Which is to say, perhaps my self-knowledge is really but a whorl upon the surface of the universe, which is itself un-knowing and un-knowable, and if it is, then what would it feel for this particular whorl to stop whorl-ing? The Action of the Whorl would cease, but the substance of that Whorl would not. Would sentience cease? Or would a deeper, non-sentient-sentience make itself apparent?

And, what would that feel like?

That’s when I try to discover the universe’s breath within my own. When I reach this point, I am far beyond any customer’s complaints. It’s really quite a blissful experience.

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