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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.

The Mother Of Invention

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

Little is known of Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba’s mother (including her name). There are reports that she was the seamstress to the Royal House of Padmasova in the Kingdom of Genoia, which was East of Africa and North by Northwest from the Indian Ocean. It is said that her mother lived a simple quiet life of service to the royal family, until a man called Shane came to town.

imagesNobody knew where Shane had come from or where he was going, but he quickly won the hearts of the royal family and was accepted into their good graces (and the queen’s adult daughter Chartres’s arms). Shane wasn’t bad, he was just made that way, or so they say. Before the people knew what had hit them, Shane had the king and queen ostracized and exiled to the Land of Ozberjian, along with Chartres (whom Shane had promised his true love too and impregnated within weeks of his arrival). Shane named himself King and demanded that a royal coat be made to adorn his beatific body.

Master Tova’s mother was devastated. She had loved the royal family and warned their daughter that this new vagabond was trouble, but they hadn’t listened. Now, she was being ordered to make a coat for the man who had dethroned her beloved employers. Working at night, with a single candle, the seamstress toiled for four weeks to finish the coat. When she had finished, she placed it carefully in a large gift box with a note for the guard’s assistant to deliver it to King Shane the next day. Master Tova’s mother packed everything she owned into a single case and left that very night, traveling through the darkness to a new land, where she met Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba’s father.

King Shane was delighted to receive his coat the following afternoon and immediately had his attendants’ help him put it on. It fit like a glove. He turned round and round, showing it off to all those who could see. It was made of colorful silk and had many pearls and rubies sewn into its hem. Everyone clapped, nodded, and admired the garment (including the king), until he sat down and felt something squishy burst in the bottom of his coat. He immediately stood, trying to turn and see what had happened. Though they tried, those in the court could not keep themselves from laughing. King Shane looked over at his chair and saw a large red stain. He took off his coat and saw that it was also drenched in a gooey red substance that was now dripping on his pants and shoes to the floor. When he went to change, he discovered that the stain had gone through his pants and underclothes and was also on his skin. He bathed repeatedly, but could not remove the red stain from his bottom.

Though the king sent out guards to look high and low for the seamstress who had sewed a concoction of permanent staining beet juice and herbs into the bottom of the coat, she was never found. It wasn’t long until word spread of the royal’s bottom and King Shane became known as King Beet Butt the Red.

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

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