Here, There and Everywhere

Not Very Zen

From Everyone Needs Therapy
by Therapy Doc
21 October 2014

Warning: Do not read if you have issues with insect deaths at the hands of bullying humans. Also, apologies in advance if this post offends any religion, be it mine or yours, I’m really sorry. It is all intended in good fun.

The story goes* that I graduated high school a semester early, but the University of Illinois didn’t accept early admissions. My parents made higher education sound more appealing than a K-Mart job, so taking six introductory liberal arts classes at Roosevelt University managed to kill the time.

I took public transportation downtown.

One day a young man with frizzy sideburns and bluejeans sat down next to me on the train. Within seconds he started to mumble, or maybe chant. He did this for awhile, then seemingly satisfied, stopped. As he fished inside his backpack for a book, I asked what that was about. He told me that he learned a mantra from a Zen master, and chanting the mantra made him calm and happy.

“Would you like to have my mantra, too?” he asked.

“Sure!”

It isn’t every day that someone gives you a mantra, so I wrote it down. We didn’t have Google to translate in those days, so the experience had an element of danger and excitement. Now, whenever I pass the mantra on as a cognitive behavioral self-relaxation tool, I sense this excitement with others, too, but add a warning: Before taking on this mantra, check out the meaning. Humming most things is relaxing, too.

But here you go. It is freeware.

nam-myoho-renge-kyo

I repeated those words until they burned their way into my memory, but found the process, and the mantra, boring. So that was the end of that. Suggesting mindfulness training, on well-scrutinized occasions, is as close as it gets to Buddhism in my life.

Zen+MasterExcept that once in awhile I get a random book in the mail from someone like Gabriel Constans who loves it. Gabriel requested a blog review in the most charming fashion, a promise that my karma will improve, certainly, if I open the book, and who doesn’t need good karma?

The title, Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: the Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire, indicates that Mr. Constans is associating with too many people of the tribe. That, or I don’t know much about Buddhist names. But he is a psychologist and sincere, so there you go.

Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba is an abbess and an ageless satirist, so it is likely the book is entirely satire, but because I didn’t finish it, I can’t say quite yet. But many a true word is said in jest, and not understanding much about Buddhism, the pages, to me, are a mystery wrapped in an enigma, which is a part of the book’s charm. The other part is that any book with short chapters, some as short as only a paragraph or a single page, at most two or three, is very appealing to those of us who are asleep before the head hits the pillow.

To broaden our perspective on Buddhism, here is a snippet about Master Tova (Mistress Toshiba) and her reaction to fishermen using worms for bait.

Let the Worms Go

There was no difference between one life and another to Mistress Toshiba. She respected all with equanimity, love, and tender care. . . . her compassion for worms . . . legendary.

The nuns were were walking with their Mistress, on their way to market to sell their organic vegetables, when they passed some fishermen who were taking worms out of a bucket, putting them on their hooks, and casting them into the river.

To make a short story shorter, the Mistress knocks over the bucket, setting the worms free, and proceeds to convince the angry fishermen that they are on the wrong track, killing worms. She offers up her organic vegetables as a substitute for fish. We’re not sure how this will effect her spiritual ecosystem, but are lead to believe that the cosmos is much better if worms can just be worms.

The story makes me feel guilty. Because here I am, powerless when insects cross my path. I smash them.

Note the astronomical difference between my reaction to a turtle a few weeks ago, and yesterday’s response, now old news, to the Asian Lady Beetle.

Riding my bike along the river, I happened to look down to where the sidewalk meets the grass. There lurked a huge turtle determining whether or not to cross. Huge turtles are not something we see in Chicago, not unless we visit the zoo. We see raccoons and skunks, deer, coyotes and the cursed geese, but not turtles. It made me happy, seeing something new, but I didn’t stop to take a picture, couldn’t risk being late for work.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, after I attempted genocide on Asian Lady Beetles, FD, vacuum hose in hand, gently chastising me: “For someone who professes to like nature, you had no trouble attempting to eliminate an entire species. The beetles would have died on their own in a day or two.”

And what if they had not?

Read complete post and much more at Everyone Needs Therapy.

One-Night

I’m Your Man A novella by Joanne Rawson.

A one-night stand that is about to send her world into utter turmoil.

Im Your Man 1400x2100When Ruth wakes up in a hotel room one morning suffering from a major hangover, she tries to piece the events of the previous night together. Feeling let down by yet another no-show by Justin at a work function, she headed to the bar and ordered a drink. The last thing she remembers is sitting next to an average-looking guy with a nice accent and large hands, and wondering just what those hands could do given half the chance. When the bathroom door opens and Mr. Average walks out, she realizes that at the ripe old age of thirty-three, Ruth Jones has experienced her first one-night stand.

About the Author:

Joanne Rawson was born and raised in Derbyshire England. In 2005, Joanne and her husband gave up their hectic lifestyle, after ten years of managing branded restaurants around London’s M25, and now spends her time in England, Goa, and Malaysia, writing romantic novels and short stories.

Available at following. Click the bookseller of your choice.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All Romance

Book Strand

Apple

Spicy Novella Zoe North

zoenorthbook new 2Here is a short love story from the same publisher (Melange Books) who published my novel, The Last Conception. It’s called Zoe North and is written by Joanne Rawson. It is a categorized as contemporary, women’s, and mainstream romance. The heat level is rated “Steamy”.

This is a witty, spicy, story of love, friendship and never expecting the inevitable. A night dancing at a salsa club leads to more than Zoe bargained for – an ultimatum that could change her life forever and a honeymoon she will never forget!

Excerpt:

The church organist hit the first chord to the bridle march, whereupon the congregation instantly reared from their pews and turned around trying to catch their first glimpse of the leading person for todays’ show. That would be me by the way, Zoe North, and giving the finest performance of my life.

Walking down the aisle, aware that all eyes were on me, I knew I should be savouring this moment; the smiling faces of approval of my couture gown; tears of joy from my mother, who thought that this day would never arrive; laughing at my friends, acting like teenagers as they pulled silly faces and gave me the thumbs up sign, as if it were my first date. Yet all I could focus on was the man at the altar the man that, in a few minutes from now, would be promising to spend the rest of his life with me.

I turned to pass my bouquet to my matron of honour. Is this really happening? Am I really getting married today, or is it all just a dream? God knows I have dreamt of this moment for what seems like a zillion years.

The vicar smiled at me and then addressed the congregation. “God is love, and those who live in love live in God.”

This is it; this is usually the moment I wake up. Feeling a hand clasp mine, I turned just to be sure, he was real. Sure enough, standing next to me, smiling nervously was the man who had asked me to marry him.
Oblivious to the organist striking up the hymn, Love Divine, all I could think about was how it all started two years ago.

About the Author:

Joanne Rawson was born and raised in Derbyshire England. In 2005, Joanne and her husband gave up their hectic lifestyle, after ten years of managing branded restaurants around London’s M25, and now spends her time in England, Goa, and Malaysia, writing romantic novels and short stories.

Available at:

Satin Romance (Melange Books)
http://www.satinromance.com/authors/joannerawson/zoenorth.html

Amazon US
http://www.amazon.com/Zoe-North-Joanne-Rawson-ebook/dp/B00NG8YNFQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411035243&sr=8-1&keywords=Joanne+Rawson

Amazon UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zoe-North-Joanne-Rawson-ebook/dp/B00NG8YNFQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411034457&sr=8-1&keywords=Joanne+Rawson

All Romance eBooks
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-zoenorth-1631543-177.html

Unschakles the Mind

Review: The Last Conception by Gabriel Constans
Reviewed by Monica Arora. 23 September 2014
KITAAB (“Book” in Hindi) Singapore

LastConception-CoverThe oft-debated dichotomy between modern scientific research and wisdom of traditional values, religious beliefs and spiritual propensities have formed the basis of several discussions, debates, deliberations and continues to dog the human sensibility, constantly torn between the two. This conflict between science and spiritualism forms the basis of the engaging novel by Gabriel Constans, entitled ‘The Last Conception’.

The plot revolves around the young female protagonist Savarna Sikand, who is an embryologist engaged in working with fertility treatments in a high-tech laboratory in San Francisco, US. Meanwhile, her parents, hailing from the south-eastern part of India, but settled in the United States, and deeply rooted in some ancient religious cult, express their desire for their daughter to conceive and thereby continue their rare lineage. What follows is a gripping saga of the dilemma faced by the young scientist Savarna who fights very hard to tread the fine line between her parents’ spiritual beliefs and her own scientific wisdom.

Gabriel has come up with a taut narrative that is extremely simple and yet keeps the reader engaged with its fast pace and myriad topics conjuring doubts, dogmas and apprehensions in minds of young people all over the globe. Right from exploring alternate sexuality and its ramifications on the immediate family to the delicate issue of childlessness, all are dwelt upon with much thought and deliberation and ‘The Last Conception’ offers a rare insight into lives of seemingly ordinary men and women dealing with such quandaries on a day-to-day basis.

Moreover, there is this keen sense of urgency and uncertainty running throughout the narrative pertaining to Savarna’s attempts at conception and the traumas, both mental and physical, which have to be endured for accomplishing the same. The high point of the novel comes in the form of adoption of an Indian-origin baby by Savarna’s sister Chitra owing to her infertility and the feelings of joy, pleasure and pride experienced by the entire family thereafter. Such sensitive subjects are dealt with much bravado and wisdom by the author and offer a lot of information to readers regarding these subjects, thereby clearing several dogmas and misconceptions plaguing childless couples and misled elders, who succumb to mindless religious dictates and notions without studying their cause and effect in detail.

What really touched me was how the parents of the two girls, Mira and Mr Sikand, handle their daughters’ dilemmas as well as their old mother’s beliefs continuing from unwavering faith in a dwindling sect of ancient India. The maturity of their feelings and their ability to keep their family together under all circumstances stands as a pinnacle of hope in contemporary times mired under the garb of modern values or lack of them and hence, offering no emotional solace to lonely, weary souls in a confused society.

‘The Last Conception’ is indeed a very noble attempt by the author to choose such unusual and uncommon themes and write a piece of prose that unshackles the mind and offers rare insight into the much spoken and widely discussed matter of science vs spirituality. With immense care and caution, Gabriel has gently treaded around prickly territory and offered a well-researched and well-structured story which deserves to be read and preserved not just as a treasure-trove of information but also juxtaposing human emotions.

Read entire review and more at KITAAB.

Recommended Reading

LastConception-CoverReview of The Last Conception
Onely: Single and Happy
13 September 2014

“To my mother. To my wife. To my husband.” Authors commonly dedicate their books this way. Nice, but boooring. (To everyone, that is, except the mother, wife, or husband.) Gabriel Constans dedicates his book The Last Conception “To Love, in all its manifestations.”

We here at Onely are interested in all aspects of the single experience and particularly like to learn about single people from different backgrounds than ourselves (Lisa and I self-identify as white, upper-middle-class, agnostic, heterosexual women). The beginning of Constans’ novel allows us into the world of single scientist and first-generation Indian-American lesbian Savarna, whose parents–still unaware of her sexuality–have been pressuring her for years to marry and give them a grandchild. Any unmarried, child-free reader whose parents have pressured them in this way will wince along with Savarna as her parents become increasingly fervent in their matchmaking–all while Savarna is trying to figure out her relationships with two different women. (I refer to her as “single” because initially she is not part of an “official” couple.)

Appropriately, as an embryologist, Savarna spends her working hours manipulating eggs and sperm to help women conceive. She herself, however, doesn’t feel the tick-tock of her biological clock. If she did, this book wouldn’t exist. (Or it would be very boring.) We have several layers of tension going on throughout the story. Savarna the happily child-free woman vs. her grandchild-wanting parents. Savarna the American vs. her Indian parents. Savarna is not religious, but her parents who travel to India once a year for some ceremonious gathering that Savarna has never attended and vaguely considers cultish.

Through the course of the book these subtle battles wage, peak, resolve and eventually weave together into an ending so satisfying I really wish I could share it here. I’m afraid to say much more because I don’t want to put out any spoilers. Let’s just say that ultra right-wing conservatives would hate this book, especially the conclusion. (All the more reason to read it!) One of our favorite words here at Onely is amatonormative, which means the normalizing of a few specific kinds of love relationships while marginalizing all others. The Last Conception kicks amatonormativity in the ass.

Which is why it gets one thumb up from our blog. The other thumb is busy turning the pages for a second read-through.

–Christina

Read entire review and more at Onely: Single and Happy.

imgp1510

Enchanting!

LastConception-CoverRainbow Book Reviews excerpt about The Last Conception.

This is an intriguing and compelling story… wondrously adorable. There are so many captivating concepts, cultural components from India, and a sublime love story, too. Enchanting!

The story:

Passionate embryologist, Savarna Sikand, is in a complicated relationship, with two different women, when she is told that she MUST have a baby. Her conservative East Indian American parents are desperate for her to conceive, in spite of her “not being married”. They insist that she is the last in line of a great spiritual lineage. In the process of choosing her lover and having doubts about her ability, or desire to conceive, Savarna begins to question the necessity of biology and lineage within her parents’ beliefs and becomes forever fascinated with the process of conception and the definition of family. Threads of Dan Brown (DaVinci Code), Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Sister of My Heart) and the film The Kids Are All Right, are tied together in this colorful tale of awakening, romance and mystery.

Available at: Melange Books and Amazon.

 

That Zany Grand Lady

586613838e010d433bacb209ce65ea56c69e859e-thumbFor those who are old enough to remember, the original Golden Girls sitcom was based on the real life teachings of that zany grand lady of Zen, Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba. 
Bettie Whyte, Actress, Comedienne, and Ageless Wonder

Gabriel Constans’ divine book about the humble Abbess can be used as a book of prayer, inspiration or before communing with the poor or the filthy rich. 
— Pope Fransis, Bishop of Romen

The story (so far):

This fictional short-story collection challenges our perceptions and illusions about religious masters, spiritual teachers, gurus, charlatans and holy men and women of all persuasions, while simultaneously tickling our funny bone and exercising the muscles our faces rely on for laughter. Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba takes liberty with questionable material from the living sea, near Egypt; tofu paper, in Okinawa; a tomb, in Italy; a shaman, in Ethiopia; and a half-sister, in India. The words, quotes, koans and stories, of this soon to be classical work, include the timeless insights of Let the Worm’s Go, Dead Food,  Reality Bites, Stealing the Buddha, Drip After Drip, Sound of One Eye, Catching Wind, Looking Good, My Cat’s Enlightened, Chocolate Box, and Sex, Drugs and Sushi Rolls.

The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire at Amazon.

Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba at Fountain Blue Publishing

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers