Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘enlightenment’

Taking Liberty With the Truth

586613838e010d433bacb209ce65ea56c69e859e-thumbFor my satirical book of koans, stories, and words of wisdom (Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire), I used the same format that was used in the 1961 classic book Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings. Zen Flesh presented the sayings, teachings, and koans of real Japanese teachers, whereas Zen Master Tova takes liberty with a fictional character and the truth, to put it mildly.

From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Nan-in a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty our cup?”

From Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba

“Do cats and dogs have Buddha-nature” Sister Sexton asked Master Toshiba.

“Yes.”

“Can cats and dogs attain enlightenment?”

“Yes.”

“Can all animals reach Samadhi?”

“Yes.”

“Do insects and bugs have Buddha-nature?” Sister Sexton persisted.

“Yes, they do,” The Master, patiently replied.

“Is it possible for vegetables, fruit, and flowers to see their true selves?”

“Yes, they can.”

“What about dirt, grass, trees, rocks, and water?”

“All life can become conscious of its true nature, even if it does not have a consciousness, as we know it.”

“Then surely, all women and men can awake to their Buddha-nature and find peace?”

“Yes, all women can express their Buddha-nature and attain enlightenment.” Master Tarantino paused, “As far as ‘all men’. I’ll have to think about that.”

Perhaps this use of fact and fiction are more intertwined than we like to believe, and history is permeated with realities which have been diluted, reinterpreted, and/or intentionally changed, in order to favor, or present events, or beliefs, in the manner and fashion that the writer in the moment chooses, or “believes” to be true. Read Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba and do your own sniff test to see if any of it rings true, or it is a total farce.

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Knocked Senseless

An inspiring & painful tale from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

“There is only the direct path,” Zen Master Toshiba exhorted to the lay community that had gathered for her Thursday talk. “You can go around in circles and try many paths, but the one which leads to the source is straight and narrow. It isn’t easy. It involves hardship, determination, and will power.” Many heads nodded in agreement. “We must not take this lightly,” The Master said sternly. “With the direct path, we can focus on what arises.” She paused, sighed, and then finished the session with the admonition, “Like a horse being led to water, we must not look to the left or the right, but keep our eyes on the road, trail or meadow . . . whatever it is the horse is walking on, and keep moving. Sitting still is a waste of time.”

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At the next week’s meeting, one of the men who had attended previously came in late and tripped over several people as he made his way to the front of the line. There he stood in front of The Master. His face was a mass of bruises and it looked as if his nose and arm had been broken. He gingerly prostrated, bowed, and stood again, with the help of his neighbor.

“Why are you standing before me?” Master Toshiba inquired.

“You said sitting was a waste of time Master.”

“And what has happened to your body?”

“I have taken your words to heart and made every attempt to go straight and not detour from my destination, as you instructed. It has been a very hard road.”

“You have taken my words to heart and been thus rewarded. Has it knocked any sense into you yet?”

“It has knocked me senseless several times, but I don’t think I have any greater understanding.”

“Perhaps not, but you have provided a wonderful example for others.”

“I have?”

“Yes, please sit, if you can,” Master Toshiba advised. The man did so painfully.

“This gentleman has shown us all the power of faith and determination. He tried my words on for size and found that they are not to be taken literally, but as metaphors, stories, parables, fairy tales, and the gospel truth. Of course truth is subjective and your experience of what it is may be different than mine, but THE truth is formed upon solid rock and is true in all circumstances, situations, and times. And that’s the truth.”

More unbelievable words of enlightenment: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

What A Day For A Daydream

586613838e010d433bacb209ce65ea56c69e859e-thumbAn excerpt from the hot and cold Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

A mother of one of Mistress Tova’s students missed her daughter and came to see what she was learning at the monastery. She found her daughter sleeping in the large bedroom she shared with ten other students who were also asleep. Quietly, she approached her daughter and gently shook her shoulder. Turning over slowly and rubbing her eyes, the girl awoke to see her mother sitting on her cot.

“Mother,” the girl whispered. “What a wonderful surprise.”

“I’ve missed you so much,” her mother replied. They embraced. “Are you eating okay? How’s your health?”

“Shhh,” the girl whispered to her mother. “I’m fine, but can’t you see we’re meditating?”

“Meditating?” The mother looked around at all the sleeping students. “You’re all napping. It’s the middle of the day.”

“It may look that way Mom, but we are in deep meditation.” Several snores arose above their whispers.

“When we’ll you be done, so we can visit?” her mother asked.

The girl looked outside to gauge the sun. “Another four or five hours, not much longer.”

“You’re going to sleep your entire day away.”

“Oh no, Mom,” the daughter said, her eyes shining brightly. “Mistress Tova says that it is best to sleep in, take long naps, and relax as often as possible, day or night. She says that it wakes us up to the reality of what is real.”

“You’re kidding?” Her mother said.

“Kidding? I’m not a kid Mom.”

Her mother rolled her eyes. “You left home to live like a sloth and sleep all day?”

“It’s not like that. You don’t understand. Mistress Tova says this is the surest path to enlightenment.”

“Then Mistress Tova is . . . never mind.” She kissed her daughter on the cheek, and stood. “Let me know when you’re done. I’ll be outside. I think we need to talk.”

More devious koans, stories, & tales, at Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Maid Service

An excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

There was a man who traveled thousands of miles to see Master Tarantino, certain that being in her presence would bring the peace and enlightenment he craved. He asked for an audience every day for a week until he was finally invited into the inner sanctum to meet The Master. He was certain his wishes would be fulfilled and all the answers to his questions answered. The moment arose and he entered. To his surprise, there was no one present.

“Hello,” the seeker whispered. When there was no answer he called out. “Hello! Master?”

“In here,” she hollered.

He followed the sound to a small doorway to the left of the dais in the back of the meditation hall. He looked in and saw Master Tarantino apparently on her knees cleaning the toilet bowl.

“Master, I have come thousands of miles and waited many days to see you.”

The Master turned her head and smiled. “That’s wonderful.” She stood and handed him the brush. “Clean this. When you’re done come see me in the garden.”

The seeker reluctantly took the brush and began cleaning. “This must be a test of my devotion,” he reasoned, “to see if I am worthy.” When he’d completed the task he went to see The Master in the garden. He found her sleeping and quietly woke her. It was a hot day.

“I’m done,” he said and proceeded to sit cross-legged on the ground, awaiting her teachings.

images-1“What?” she said, rubbing her eyes and yawning? “Oh, it’s you.” The seeker waited patiently for his instructions on finding peace and happiness. “If you don’t mind, would you please do the laundry? It won’t take long. It’s over there in that big washbasin. The river’s only a mile or two down the road. Let me know when you’re done.”

Reluctantly, the seeker stood, looked at the smiling Master and did as he was instructed, believing it was another task to prepare him for the golden words he longed to hear.

By dusk, the laundry had been hand-washed and scrubbed and brought before Master Tarantino who was finishing a sumptuous dinner. “Excellent,” she exclaimed, upon the seeker presenting himself and the folded laundry. “You deserve a treat. Sit. Take a load off your feet.” The student placed the laundry on a chair, sat, and bowed to The Master, as she took her plate of leftovers and placed it before him. He bowed again, eating greedily, as she poured him a glass of water, which he gulped down from thirst. Bowing once again, he waited for his spiritual instruction.

“You’ll do,” The Master said. “I’m going to bed early. Tomorrow’s a busy day.”

“Master,” the bewildered student exclaimed. “What is the significance of ‘you’ll do’?”

“Significance?”

“Are you saying I’m good enough as I am, that I am enough? Does it imply validation for my journey and quest? Is it meant to teach me to be and not do? I beg you to explain.” He bowed once again.

“Begging does not suit you,” she grinned. “You are the help we asked for, are you not?”

“Help?” the student exclaimed.

“They said you were from a far off land and would be arriving any day. We promised room and board. You are exactly as requested. Sister Hernandez will show you to your cot.” The Master nodded at the sister who entered, waiting to lead the seeker to his room.

“No. No. No. There’s been some mistake,” the student said. “I’ve traveled thousands of miles and waited many days to accept your teachings and find peace and happiness.”

“Excellent,” The Master said, as she was leaving. “You’ll do.”

More satirical koans, stories, & tales, at Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

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