Life is like a trip to the supermarket. You go grocery shopping mainly as a matter of necessity. You may be someone who either makes a mental note of everything you are going to buy or someone who is in possession of a well-documented list before you enter the supermarket.

In any case, once in, you invariably recall some additional items. You are not too keen to make the trip but it seems you have no choice. You park your car away from the unfettered shopping carts that are ranging the parking lot with no sense of direction and with a complete disregard for basic traffic etiquette.

You walk towards the supermarket; just before you enter, you pull out a shopping trolley with a jerk. Your freedom is now limited to the movement of the cart. You are greeted by a colorful view of fresh produce and big flashing cards depicting their price.

An overwhelming feeling takes you over; a few moments later, you are lost. You are now walking down various aisles like a mouse trying to navigate its way through a maze. There is stuff everywhere. It does not matter which way you dart your glances or still your gaze, there is more stuff. And many choices for every item, at that. Did it really have to be that complicated!

Your shopping cart, now full of items, is behaving more like a pram with a handful of a three year old in it. You have to put in the extra effort to make it move with precision. Exactly like a child’s pram, you do not feel comfortable leaving it unattended. You do part with it to quickly grab that item, you keep a watch on it — as if a group of cart thieves are waiting for the right opportunity or there is a cart ranger who will book you for parking in the wrong zone. Anyway, feeling drained and thirsty, you get in the check out lane. You are greeted with the customary smile by the check out operator.

They ask you if you are doing well. But they are not really interested in knowing that, for, they start scanning before you can answer. At least, they are not judging you from your purchases; the fact is they could not be bothered. In other words, they are as interested in knowing about you as you are about them. The total turns out to be more than expected. You bite the bullet paying it. You also make a soon-to-be-forgotten mental note on being careful about your purchasing next time. You walk up to your car, unload everything from the trolley and load your car only to unload it again when you get home just a few minutes later.

So strikingly similar to life, your supermarket experience. Your life may be easy if you know exactly what you want, but this world can be an overwhelming place. The work of making choices does not cease until your last breath. Like grocery shopping, the choices you make determine the financial and material outcome at the check out. The more you choose to load in your cart, the more tied you are to it.

Like the supermarket purchases, some things you buy impulsively, others, thoughtfully, and yet there are many you pick based on looks while there are some you thoroughly scan and compare before buying.

The way you act in life can be ascertained from your way of grocery shopping. If you are looking for a responsible partner, carefully observe other shoppers and pick one from those who are buying off a list held prominently in their hands.

If however, you are looking for the adventurous type, look for the most stacked cart with the owner who is on the phone and who also buys the chewing gum and magazines while waiting at the checkout counter. That is that for the partner tip; after all, you may as well pick the one you will share your meals with from the place you both buy the ingredients from.

Anyway, getting back to the choices. You feel walking through the various stages of life is an automatic act — almost like moving through the aisles of a supermarket. You feel that way because of your conditioning. Only if you choose to stop, think and reflect on your life, your choice may be wholesomely different to the current ones. Just like the checkout operator, worldly conventions are only customary.

The world is not really interested in what you mean; just so long as you buy the stuff and pay your bill, you are labeled worthy. But regardless of how much you buy, or if anything at all, you still have to exit and get home. You may love or hate supermarkets, they are only transient; you must leave eventually.

There are no chairs there for you to sit and wait, no place to hide either. Such is the reality of this world too. It is transient, a temporary place and a permanent illusion. This is not your permanent home, certainly not that of your soul. You will only feel peaceful when home. Irrespective of the size and state of your home, you do not feel lost in your own home.

The world inside is your home. It is complete; eternally stocked with all provisions, it is plush and full of infinite luxury. No stress, no loading-unloading, no bill payments, no making choices all the time. Whatever you want, and, can ever want, is available aplenty. Go home! Be at home!

Next in the line, please…

Hare Krishna
Swami