Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘master’

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.

Trust Me

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

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Master Tova was traveling with Sister Sun and Sister Moon to visit one of the community centers. They came upon a narrow rope bridge which crossed a deep gorge and raging river below.

“I’ll wait here until you return,” Sister Sun said, shaking in her boots every time she looked towards the walkway.

“Nonsense,” Master Tova replied. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

“I’ll stay with Sister Sun,” Sister Moon added, holding on to her companion for dear life.

“We must cross,” Master Tova replied. “They are waiting for us and Sister Star needs our assistance. You know she is very ill and may not have much time left.”

“We feel deeply for Sister Star,” Sister Sun trembled, “but it will do her no good if we parish before we see her.”

“This bridge has been here for centuries,” Master Tova explained.

“Exactly,” Sister Moon exclaimed.

“Thousands upon thousands have safely made their way upon its planks and rope handrails,” Master Tova reassured. Both sisters stood frozen, shaking their heads. “Look,” Master Tova said, as she walked onto the bridge and turned around. “See, it’s as strong as a rock.” She jumped up and down several times. The bridge bobbed and swayed side to side. Master Tova returned to her reluctant students and said, “You must trust in life or you will never get anywhere.”

The Master took hold of Sister Sun and Sister Moon’s hands and led them toward the structure. Just as Master Tova was about to step on the bridge, Sister Sun coughed. Her cough caused a loud crack. They watched in horror as the ropes snapped, the wooden planks broke, and the walkway plummeted into the gorge below with a deathly crash.

Sister Sun and Sister Moon’s eyes were as large as saucers, as they pulled Master Tova back from the edge and fell to the ground.

As they got up and dusted themselves off, Master Tova turned and spoke. “Like I said, it’s always good to consider alternatives, and cough before proceeding. We’ll have to walk upstream and wade across the shallow portion of the river. It will take longer, but we’ll get their safe and sound.”

Many honest and trusted stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

The Telephone Sessions

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

imgresThere are reports that The Master had the ability to fly through the air and jump from the ground to the roof in a single movement (though there are no documenting photographs or film clips to verify such claims). It is more likely that she used a ladder to climb to the roof. She was also a good tree climber as a child and continued the practice into her later years.

The Abbott often encouraged her students to go upon the roof in order to get a different perspective on life. Whenever the Abbott went missing, this is the first place the sisters would look and often where they found their teacher.

“When the hustle and bustle of the city gets you down,” Master Tarantino would say. “There’s always a place we can meet, where the air is clean and sweet . . . upon the roof.”

During high or low holy days, when many from the adjacent towns, villages, and cities came to hear Master Tarantino, she often gave her talks and seminars upon the roof. If it got to crowded, people would pass on what she was saying to those on the ladder, who then passed it along to everyone on the ground. By the time the last person heard The Master’s words whispered in their ear it might have sounded somewhat different than the original teaching. These talks became known as the Telephone Sessions.

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

The Return Trip

imagesFrom a talk to sisters during the sunny season. 210 B.C. A deserving excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Let’s speak of karma and cause and effect. This is an important concept that is often misunderstood or diluted with theory and make‑believe.

Karma is simply a word we use to try to describe the reality of one thing affecting another – action and reaction. What you put in one end comes out the other. Nothing exists in a vacuum, unless you’re a piece of dust, which has been sucked up from the carpet. In that case, your entire existence is in a vacuum.

Everything we do, say, think, or feel goes out into the universe. Sometimes the universe spits it right back at us, and at others it goes through a long wash cycle until it is clean and folded. There are millions of karmic vibrations intermingling, bouncing off one another, and influencing the direction we are going.

That is why it is vital that we stay awake and conscious of what is occurring (unless we are sleeping of course). When we are aware, we can then make choices, and not just react out of ignorance, drowsiness or a craving for a latte. Whether these conscious choices make any difference is dependent on your reactions to this teaching, and whether you are dust in a vacuum or just another cog in the karmic dream machine.

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

Being Painted

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

As many students have attested, one of the skills Master Toshiba was known for was her incredible ability to remain as still as a rock and blend into her surroundings like a chameleon. She could sit stand or lie in the same position for days, barely breathing, and seemingly unaware of her body, due to her deep states of concentration (or sleep). One incidence that exemplified this trait was when the monastery was being painted.

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Several men and women from the village were hired to paint the outside of the monastery and the surrounding wall. They mixed their paints and began on a Monday morning. By Wednesday late afternoon they were halfway done. When they stopped for lunch, Sister Sitadown asked them if they’d seen Master Toshiba, as she’d been missing for two days. The workers replied that they hadn’t seen her and thought The Master was out of town.

“No,” Sister Sitadown said. “She had no other engagements. She told Sister Craven that she was going to the garden to sit and that was the last we’ve seen of her.”

“Would you like us to help look for her,” the painter’s asked?

“Yes, please,” replied the worried Sister.

Everyone began searching the grounds and calling out for Master Toshiba, using all the names she was known by. “Master Toshiba!” “Abbott Tova!” “Mistress Tarantino!” “Master Tarantino!” “Mistress Tova!” “Abbess!” “Master!” “Mistress!” “Sister!” “Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba!” “Hey, Lady!”

One of the painters was walking close to the outer wall. He put his foot on the wall and lifted himself up to look over to the other side.

“Yeoh!!!” someone hollered. The wall moved and the painter fell to the ground. “What are you doing?” a voice bellowed. “You kicked me in the shin!”

It was then that the painter recognized Master Toshiba, as she stepped away from the wall. She’d been painted over in the same color as the wall.

“I’m sorry Master,” the painter replied. “I didn’t see you.”

“How could you not see me?”

“Well,” the painter replied. “Look at yourself.”

Master Toshiba glanced down at her clothes and lifted her hands in front of her face. She looked at the wall and started laughing. The painter laughed with her. They began laughing so loudly that the others came running to see what was so funny. Sister Sitadown arrived.

“So, there you are. We’ve been looking all over for you.”

“Well,” Master Toshiba grinned. “Here I am.” She held up her painted hands and everyone laughed again.

“Next time,” Sister Sitadown said. “We’ll have to attach a flag to your head.”

“A flag, or some bells around my neck, like a cow, so you’ll always know where I’ve wondered off to,” Master Toshiba added.

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

Honey Dreams

imagesExcerpt from queen bee Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Do bees dream of honey?

From The Honey Dew Book Oracle. Date Unknown.

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

Aunt Tova’s Closet

imagesChantall’s story about her aunt’s material things. Excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Master Tova’s niece, Chantall, had recently arrived from the land of the Maori to care for her aunt in her final days. The first thing The Master requested was that Chantall clean out her bedroom closet.

“It would be my pleasure Auntie. Where would you like me to put everything?”

“Just clean it out first, then we’ll figure out what to do with it.”

Chantall went to work and was surprised to find such an array of items packed into such a small space. She pulled out three bags of clothes, ten pairs of shoes (including some sequined platform clogs), a shredded bed roll, five pairs of candlesticks (which were melted almost to the wick), fifteen unmatched socks, a pair of rusty engraved silver scissors, scroll after scroll of some ancient texts (which she could not read and did not understand), two balls of yarn, a broken knitting needle, seven lightweight blouses (with stains and various colored material), a large pair of men’s pants, a moth-eaten velvet hat, an earring, nose ring, ankle and wrist bracelets, an array of playing cards, a begging bowl, an ochre-colored robe that had turned almost gray, a wooden chess set, two brass bells, some old letters (which she planned to read as soon as her Aunt drifted off to sleep, as they appeared to be love letters), a drawing of an elephant sitting in meditation, and a necklace with a green emerald pennant in the shape of a Bodhi tree. Clearing out the closet took much longer than she’d expected.

“Now what Auntie? What would you like me to do with all your things?”

“We must first clear out the closets of our mind, before we can be free,” Master Tova replied. “A mind cluttered with ideas, thoughts, the past, the future, or desire, will never find freedom.”

“Okay,” Chantall said, “but what do you want me to do with all this?” She nodded towards the high pile of Master Tarantino’s possessions.

“That? That is nothing more than a collection of matter, which had been stored inside a container of matter. Holding on or letting go of material objects makes no difference. It is our attachment to people, places, or things which causes suffering and keeps us on the endless wheel of karma.”

“Yes. I understand Aunt Tova, but where should I take it? What do you want me to do with it?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just leave it. Better yet, why don’t you take what you wish, give some to your mother, and distribute the rest to charity?”

“I’m not sure how to say this Auntie, but most of this is useless. It wouldn’t even be worth donating.”

“Then burn it all. Light a pyre and reduce it to dust, just as I will soon become.”

“As you wish.”

Chantall took load after load out into the light of day, built a fire, and started throwing Master Tarantino’s material goods onto the fire. She kept the ancient scroll, the necklace, and a bell. She tried to retrieve the love letters, which she’d inadvertently thrown in with everything else, but it was too late. Then she returned to her aunt’s room.

“It is done Auntie.”

“Excellent. Now you are free. There is nothing holding you back. You can move on.”

“Those were your things, not mine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter, does it? Desirelessness is a trap and desire is liberation.”

“Don’t you mean . . . oh, never mind.”

As Aunt Tova drifted off to sleep, Chantall quietly tiptoed out of her room, wondering what she would have found in her aunt’s love letters, and berating herself for having inadvertently thrown them into the fire.

Chantall told this story to her mother after she returned home from caring for Aunt Tova. Her mother wrote it down and later passed it on to an undisclosed student of her sisters community.

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

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