Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘garden’

The First Treehugger

A tall tale from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

The redwoods in Asia, being especially tall, were a favorite of Abbott Tova. She loved to climb as high as she could and observe life from above. She saw wildlife, people in the village, travelers on the road, and her sisters in the community below. Seeing that her excursions climbing the ancient ones were made in secret, she often witnessed events and scenes that others were not aware of.

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One day, she saw a herd of rampaging river otters approaching the village and was able to scamper down the tree and go warn people of their approach just in time. Many lives were saved. Some thought the Abbott must be clairvoyant for knowing of the approaching otters, not knowing of her climbing feats.

On another day, the Abbott watched a bandit attack a lone farmer on the road and steal his money. She knew who the bandit was and was later able to assist in his capture and testify at his trail, as to what he was wearing that day and at what time it had taken place.

There was the time Abbott Tova saw Sister Kiva sneaking off with Sister Bhakti to make love in the meadow. In that case there was no need to do anything, other than turn her attention elsewhere.

As was the case with Abbott Tova’s ability to remain still and blend in with her surroundings in the garden for hour upon hour, so it was in the trees where she often lost track of time and became so engrossed and selfless that she could feel the sap flowing through her veins and her limbs transferring the sun’s light into energy through her skin.

Without it being called so at the time, Abbott Tova was the first known tree hugger. Her actions gave rise to a long line of environmentalists and forest advocates, including, Pocahontas, Johnny Appleseed, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Chico Mendes, Wangari Maathai, and Julia “Butterfly” Hill. It also gave her a great advantage in “seeing” the future, making predictions, and others believing she was omnipotent, which she would never deny, nor confirm.

More vast and small stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Stealing the Buddha

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

One rainy morning, Mistress Tarantino was sitting quietly in the garden under a banyan tree. She was very still. Suddenly, she heard a noise and opened her eyes. She watched a man climb over their two‑foot tall security fence and creep into the yard. He looked around quickly, but didn’t see her watching. The man plucked some apples off the apple tree, then picked up the large bronze statue of Buddha in the center of the garden, lifted it onto his shoulder, and started walking towards the fence.

“Hey!” Mistress Tarantino shouted. “Stop!”

The man didn’t look to see who was calling out. He began to run towards the wall. The Buddha was heavy, so he couldn’t run very fast, but he was almost at the wall when he was tackled from behind. The statue fell to the ground, the apples flew into the air, and the man lay sprawling.

The poor man looked up and saw Mistress Tarantino standing above him. “I didn’t take track in school for nothing,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” the thief replied. “Really, I’m very sorry. Please, don’t call the police.”

“Police?” Mistress Tarantino smirked, “we don’t need no stinking police.”

“What are you going to do? I’ll do anything to repay you.”

“Anything?” asked the Mistress.

“Yes, anything.”

“Okay, if you insist.” Mistress Tarantino helped the man to his feet. “First off, promise to never steal again.” The man nodded. “Secondly, please put the Buddha back where you got it.” The man nodded again. “You must be strong. That sucker is heavy duty. Last, but not least, come back here every day for the rest of the apple harvest, take what you can carry, and give them away to anyone you see who is hungry.”

The thief was perplexed. “Is that all? Is there no punishment?”

“You’ve already punished yourself with the karma you’ve created. There is no need to add oil to the fire.”

“Thank you Mistress.” The thief bowed, then took the statue and placed it back in the middle of the garden. “I will return tomorrow and take a bag of apples into town. I know several families that need them.” He bowed again and started to leave.

“One more thing,” Mistress Tarantino said. “I strongly urge you to meditate and strengthen your awareness. If you ever decide to steal again in broad daylight, at least you will be more attuned to your surroundings and will see if someone is sitting just ten yards away watching your every move.”

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

Our Slithery Friends

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

Sister Bonsai and Abbott Tova were on their hands and knees digging up the soil in the garden to plant some hemp seeds. When Sister Bonsai lifted a rock to make way for the next row, a cobra raised its head and spit in her direction. She fell backwards just in time to miss being hit in the face. Abbott Tova grabbed her arms and quickly pulled her farther away from the deadly snake.

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“Oh my!” exclaimed Sister Bonsai. “That was close.”

The Abbott nodded. “It’s good you’re fast on your feet or should I say rapidly falling? At least you fell in the right direction.”

“Thank you,” Sister Bonsai exclaimed.

“No problem,” the Abbott replied. “I thought we’d weeded out all our slithery friends.”

“Friends? How can you call that awful creature a friend? It almost killed me.”

“They probably thought you were trying to kill them. How would you react if you were sleeping in a cool shady spot under a large solid mass and suddenly the roof was lifted away and a giant shadow hovered over you?”

“You’re right,” Sister Bonsai replied. “I never thought of it like that.”

They both watched the cobra slither away, down towards the gully to find another safe shady area. As they stood and made their way to the shed for the bag of seeds, Sister Bonsai looked puzzled, still a little shaky, and deep in thought.”

“What are you thinking?” Abbott Tova inquired.

“Why were such deadly creatures created and other nuisances like fleas and mosquitoes?”

“They just are. I’m not sure if they were ‘created’ as such, but perhaps existed previously in other forms.”

“And why,” Sister Bonsai continued, “do some animals eat their prey while they are still alive? It seems especially cruel and barbaric.”

“Why does suffering exist?” replied Abbott Tova. “Why is their pain, loss, sickness, discomfort, old age, and death?”

“Those are deep questions Master, but your question does not answer my question.”

“Nor should it,” said The Master, as she scooped some seeds into the bag they were both holding.

“If there are no answers and only more questions, then what’s the use in trying to make sense of anything?”

“Indeed.” Abbott Tova grabbed another spade, as she and her student walked back to the field.

“So, you’re saying there is no need to figure anything out or make sense of the world we live in?”

“As a famous songwriter and activist once said,” The Master surmised, “We’re just sitting here watching the world go round and round.”

“That’s sounds nice, but doesn’t solve any of our problems.”

“He also said, ‘There are no problems, only solutions.’”

“Then what’s the solution?” Sister Bonsai asked.

“Ah, that’s a good question.” Abbott Tova replied thoughtfully. “Here, take this.” She handed the Sister the bag. “Let’s plant these seeds and give them some water.”

More abundant wisdom 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.

Let’s Dance

Let’s Dance: Transforming our lives through meditation.
by Lawrence Levy
Tricycle

At a group meditation I led recently, I was discussing the importance of properly preparing for meditation by paying attention to the elements of time, place, and posture. Segyu Rinpoche, Juniper’s founding teacher, was present. At one moment, with a playful look on his face, Rinpoche asked me a question. He wanted to know what I had meant when I mentioned the possibility of placing a flower or a candle in one’s meditation space.

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I understood what he was asking. I was reluctant to share details about my meditation practice, and I knew that Rinpoche believed it was important for me to break that resistance. As he smiled in the background, I took a leap. I described the care I put into my own meditation space—the way I look for just the right flower in my garden, or the perfect orchid at the local market, the attention I pay to making sure the area is clean, and the feeling I experience when I light a candle and imagine it radiating to my family, friends, and others.

I had confessed to my ritual. Later, at the end of the meditation, I said to the group: “You see how Rinpoche was playing with me earlier. It’s like a dance. He prompted, I followed. That’s the dance of meditation, the dance of moving ourselves inwardly.”

Dancing is a beautiful metaphor for the richness of meditation. More than an exercise to focus the mind, it is a transformational journey inward, a means to know ourselves and refine our way of being. It is an art, full of rhythm and beauty, crescendo and quiet. It can be moving, light and joyous. Like removing kinks from a hose, it propels us to overcome our resistances so the best in us can flow.

Sometimes the step onto this dance floor seems like a large one. We don’t want to learn the moves; we’d rather have something quick. We don’t want a relationship with a dance partner; we’d prefer to go it alone. We don’t want to look inside; we want to stay as we are, only freer, happier, and wiser. But freedom, happiness, and wisdom may not arise from merely staying as we are.

The genius of the Buddha—the Indian prince Siddhartha—and many who followed him was the realization that the mind is not static. It is living, breathing, evolving. Because it is the medium through which we experience our lives, there are immeasurable benefits from refining it, sharpening it, and discovering its potential. Therefore, sometimes we have to push ourselves; we have to learn some steps that might at first feel awkward but soon become second nature.

To do this dance takes two sides. On the one is our own effort to grow and refine our way of being and experience. On the other is a partner—a teacher or guide to show us the steps and keep us moving. This requires teachers who know how to transmit wisdom not as ancient knowledge but as living tradition. It calls for a community of individuals, born out of local culture and united by the idea that the inner journey—the dance through which we learn to live fully and freely—is a deep and beautiful way to engage life.

At stake here is not just our own well-being. We live in a time when our narratives are increasingly about what is broken in our world: how the institutions charged with running it are brokers of self-interest and power; how modern governments work for corporations and the wealthy; how media is in an ever-increasing arms race for control of our preferences.

Look for the root of these problems and we end up at the mind—its greed, fear, and craving. If the mind is the root of the problem, then solving the problem—crafting a humanity in which our leaders are stewards of a peaceful, noble, and just world; in which individuals give full expression to their talents and creativity; and in which each person feels relevant and important to the whole—will only come from a change in mind. For this, we have to do the dance that will move us inwardly.

These ideas are not new. A long time ago the Buddha realized the immeasurable benefits to be gained from refining the mind. He also implored his followers not to turn his teachings into dogma but to have the courage to examine the reality we are in right now and to become the best we can be in it.

Read entire article and more at TRICYCLE.

Tail’s End

Tail’s End

Just finished sculpting this piece of Oregon river rock, then waxed and polished it up to put in the garden.

It sort of looks like the tail of a whale that’s jumped in head first. From another angle it appears to be an anvil. What’s it look like to you?

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In Your Own Backyard

The Five Stages of Garden-Talk
by Meredith Greene
March 13, 2013

Read this and other stories at GardenGreene.

A surprising number of folks in my nearer social circles do not know much about gardening. Certainly, they can browse the colorful annuals on display at the large home store and likewise can stick them in the sunny spots twice a year whilst waving at passing neighbors. Most can even pull a weed or two as well as set a mean schedule on the automated sprinklers but, somehow, the simplest aspects of organic vegetable and herb gardening elude them.

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In calling on neighbors, and speaking with extended family members over the years, I’ve come to predict the various expressions that ensue when the conversation invariably shifts to growing food. These facial indications rather line up like the five stages of grief, but instead of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance I see Surprised, Confused, Mildly Interested, Incredulous and Overwhelmed. Getting food out of your own backyard is considered by many to be just too darn complicated.

One of my children usually let the ‘cat’ out of the bag in playing with the smaller versions of the other adults in the room. Some time during the course of the visit a child runs over, their faces alight and eyes shining, tugging at the arm/dress/leg of their owner and say something akin to:

“They grow strawberries in their backyard! And tomatoes! They get to pick them and eat them! Can we grow those, too?”

“From the mouths of babes,” I murmur, watching as the parent’s face slides into the first stage.

“How can you possibly find the time to garden?” Surprised then asks of me.

Now, when I was younger–upon being asked this question–I used to launch into a succinct and factual spiel outlining the amount of time that the average American spends in front of television set every day. I would then point out that it was a better use of time to turn over compost and chase after hordes of insidious snails with pale clouds of ditomacheous earth. Oddly, this set of facts seemed to inspire little but denial, anger and depression. Now, I simply focus my argument on Money.

“Do you go to the gym?” I ask. Confused nods in the affirmative, an answer more often than not a complete fabrication. “Did you know,” I continue, “that a couple of hours of vigorous gardening is comparable to spending the same amount of time at the gym?” No, they didn’t know that, but it sounds pretty good. Confused is quickly replaced with Mildly Interested as I go on to list just how much money my family saves over a given winter season by not having to buy my fresh herbs at the store. ($300-$400)

“That is a big savings,” Incredulous returns. “But it ‘s such a lot of work. How do I even get started?”

Here it gets a little tricky. Too much pushing and the average consumer will balk and return to safer subjects, such as waxing poetic on how their favorite washed-up celebrity weathered Trump’s Board room the previous night. Too much information up front and they’ll leap to the Overwhelmed stage too quickly. Too many dire predictions about rising food costs and the Environment and they’ll tune you out AND lump you in with some odd group they heard about on the news that anoint themselves with carrots and say they can raise goats that defecate copper bullion.

Nostalgia has proven to be the most powerful argument of all. Most folks harbor—way back in the warm recesses of their memory—lingering scents, sights and tastes of fresh produce partaken of as a child. It might be the ripe, red raspberries they picked in a grandmother’s arbor. It may be that luscious purple plum that they bit into one hot summer day. It may be a cool clump of sweet, green grapes that can be recalled, even now, with frank fondness. That same wide-eyed wonder, that propelled their offspring to run over and inquire of our garden, still lives on in them even if they are currently unaware of it. It is a useful tool to help lever the conversation away from the precarious Edge of Unconcern and back into the Realm of Feasibility, and is relatively easy to make contact with.

I show them pictures. (see blog header)

“These are some of the tomatoes we harvested last year,” I say, sliding one full-color image after another over the screen.

“Omigawd! Those look delicious!”

“We get about two-hundred pounds every season, all without pesticides.”

“Are those artichokes?!”

“Yep. They were especially good picked young, pared and sauteed with garlic and olive oil.”

“And you still have time to write books?” This question is best answered with a small shrug and a half-smile.

“My kids help me out a lot, but I like the exercise. These are the strawberries…”

“Wow… look at those! I bet that’s nice to have just out your back door.”

“Not as nice as this basil,” I tell them, going to the next picture.

From there the questions tend to get more sincere. Once folks realize that you can actually raise food on a city lot without having to spent a fortune–or work on it 24/7–they find that other hobbies don’t really cut it. Most parents already wonder how they can encourage their kids to get outside a bit more and move around, and when my oldest daughter walks over and launches into a short monolog on the how one can induce thriving vermiculture with an old plastic tub and leftover coffee grounds, they’re sold.

“Families have been growing food together for millenniums,” I conclude. “It’s a proven method of keeping active, and–as my grandfather used to tell us–’if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’” My grandfather had a rock garden in the high desert–and a cement patio for a back yard–but some information can be safely omitted.

Read entire story and more at GardenGreene.

Meredith Greene is an author, book reviewer and freelance writer.

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