Read This First! - introduction to Zen and the Art of Grocery Shopping by John Karolefski

Everything about food and grocery shopping is wacky nowadays. Soda and beef are bad for our health, but ingesting cannabis is good. Water is good for our health, but the plastic bottles that water comes in are bad for the environment. Checkout lines are too long, but you can’t buy beer at a self-checkout terminal. We’re flummoxed. Shopping sucks.

You may be reading this while standing in a bookstore or browsing on Amazon. You wonder what Zen has got to do with grocery shopping. If Zen is feeling peaceful and relaxed, should you meditate while waiting at the deli counter for your number to be called? Is tranquility truly attainable if your shopping cart has squeaky wheels and a sticky handlebar? Those are good questions that call for a mystical answer.

Consider this Zen parable:

When Banzan was walking through a market, he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

“Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer.

“Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best.”

At these words, Banzan became enlightened.

This Zen parable was translated into English from a book called the Shaseki-shū (The Collection of Stone and Sand), written in the late 13th century by the Japanese Zen teacher Muju.

To become enlightened today, accept that the best is all around you and sometimes on sale. Stress the lack of stress. If your favorite brand of frozen string beans is out of stock, give peas a chance.

You can also attain this higher level of shopability by reading this book and my website

“And Zen what?” you may ask.


To order a copy and read the rest of the book, click here.


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