Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘students’

Teacher Warrior Mother Friend

imgresWhen I was a young man (about two hundred years ago), I was lucky enough to discover a martial arts school in my hometown that taught Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. The head teacher (Sensei) was a woman named Professor Jane Carr. The reason I say “lucky” is because I could have innocently become involved with a so-called teacher who had not been well trained, whose only concern was fighting or winning competitions and/or making money. A teacher, who cared more about power, control and prestige then self-control, honor and respect.

Professor Carr was different. She was a teacher, warrior, mother, counselor, non-violent activist and friend all rolled up into one. She expected all her students to work hard to improve themselves in all aspects of their lives, in and out of the dojo (practice hall). She commanded respect, not because of her fighting skills (which are formidable), but because she showed respect for others and would settle for nothing less in herself. Her presence demonstrated and invited those around her to discover their own inner strengths and character. Professor Carr is still teaching (after 55 years), and her daughter is head instructor at the academy. Sensei Carr was recently awarded her 10th degree black belt, making her one of only three people in the American Judo & Jiu-Jitsu Federation to have this degree, and the only woman.

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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.

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.

The Know-It-All Priest

586613838e010d433bacb209ce65ea56c69e859e-thumbA dumbfounding excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

After years of losing students to Master Toshiba, the local priest of another Buddhist sect could take it no more. He walked to Master Toshiba’s training hall and challenged The Master.

“You have many students,” the priest said, with his ego hanging on his sleeve. “What do you have that I don’t have?”

“I’m much better to look at,” replied Master Toshiba.

The ensuing laughter further infuriated the priest.

“Seriously,” he exclaimed. “You are not the wisest, nor have you studied the longest. Your words are shallow and your promises cheap.”

Some of the students became agitated at the priest’s belligerence, but Master Toshiba motioned for them to be still.

“Which of my words have been shallow and to what promises are you referring?”

“Well . . . well . . . ” the flustered priest hesitated and then said, “Everything! But, if you want specifics . . . here’s one.” He raised his finger, pointed it at The Master, and mockingly said, ‘You get out of it what you put into it.’ “That’s not Buddhism, that’s just common sense and even that isn’t always true. Sometimes, you don’t get anything out of it, no matter how much you put into it.”

“Is that like your teaching?” Master Toshiba inquired. “You’ve put everything into it and your meditation hall is empty.”

“How dare you? I still have students. There may not be as many as you have, but mine are tried and true. They practice day and night. Their understanding deepens and enlightenment is theirs to have and to hold.”

“Since when did it become possible to own enlightenment? How do you hold it? Where is it?”

“You know what I mean. Quit turning my words around and trying to make me look like a fool.”

“There is no need to try,” replied Master Toshiba. “Your actions today have revealed your true self.”

The priest was suddenly overcome with shame. He kneeled down.

“And as far as promises,” Master Toshiba continued. “There is no such thing. The only promise I’ve ever made is that I can make no promises.” She paused. “Well, there was one promise. When I was young I promised my parents I’d never leave them, but I did. Oh yeah, there was also that time . . . anyway, as far as our spiritual practice, the only promise I can make is that the sun will rise tomorrow, that we have all been born and that we will all die.”

“I beg you Master.” The priest prostrated himself on the floor. “I am not worthy, but I ask humbly that I be allowed to be your student.”

“You probably aren’t worthy,” The Master replied “and I doubt you’ll learn anything, but you’re welcome to join us.” The priest stood and bowed repeatedly. “Go see Brother Peacock next door. They’re leaving on holiday tomorrow. Tell him I said you could tag along. Come see me upon your return.”

“Thank you. Thank you.” The priest continued bowing as he walked backwards. “I will see you as soon as we return.”

“Promise?”

More upside down wisdom at: 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.

LGBT Writers In Schools

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LGBT WRITERS IN SCHOOLS connects authors with classrooms via free Skype or in-class visits to discuss the author’s work and LGBT issues. Designed for teachers of high school classes, universities and colleges, and student organizations, the LGBT Writers in Schools program is an opportunity for writers to discuss their work openly with students and to encourage diversity not only in the students’ reading and writing lives, but also in society at large. This initiative will broaden the foundation of experience for students of Literature, Creative Writing, English, and Secondary Education.

OUR GOALS

To bring LGBT writers into high schools, colleges and universities to share their knowledge and experience in order to promote diversity and encourage understanding of the LGBT community.

To enrich the high school, college and university English curriculum by incorporating and teaching LGBT texts in the classroom which will acknowledge LGBT writers’ contributions to literature.

To foster an open environment to discuss LGBT issues and their impact on society and the individual through LGBT texts in a vibrant and moderated classroom atmosphere.

Giving a voice to those who have long been silenced.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The teacher will state which type of author she would like in one of four genres: Adult Fiction, YA Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction/Memoir. Once the information is gathered from the teacher, we contact an author who would be a good fit. If they request a specific author, we try to contact that author.

WHAT HAPPENS ONCE AN AUTHOR IS CHOSEN FOR THE TEACHER’S CLASS?

Once the author has agreed to do the visit, then an introduction is made between the author and the teacher via LGBT Writers in Schools. After the introduction is made, it is the responsibility of the teacher to work out the specifics of the visit (ie: date of visit, length of visit, in person or via Skype, etc).

WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE VISIT?

Teachers would assign the work of the author and once the class has read it, the author would do a twenty minute (or longer) Skype session with the class. Depending upon what the teacher and author discussed, the session can be as general or as specific as each would like. It is supposed to be fun, lively and educational.

WHY SHOULD I PARTICIPATE?

This is a really exciting venture for Lambda Literary Foundation and for the Gay Straight Educators Alliance. LGBT literature should be represented as one voice among the many in any contemporary curriculum. The way to help counter prejudice and bullying is through educating others and it is vital to support any efforts that would help achieve this goal. Opening up channels of communication definitely begins with understanding and what better way to understand the LGBT community than through literature.

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Contact Monica Carter (mcarter@lambdaliterary.org), Program Coordinator, LGBT Writers in Schools Program

Lambda Literary Foundation

Tailoring Tradition In Afghanistan

Tailoring Tradition to Create Opportunities
From FINCA

afg.-nafisaCultivating a sense of community isn’t always easy, especially when you can’t freely move around your neighborhood without a man accompanying you, or when you’re faced with the possibility that explosions can happen anywhere, any time. But that doesn’t keep FINCA Afghanistan client Nafisa from sharing her tailoring expertise with 20 students, eager to learn her secrets for success, and building a thriving business, both at home and abroad, that’s opening new doors for her daughter.

Nafisa is 50 years old and has decades of experience designing and sewing traditional Afghani dresses. Her expertise and attention to detail are well known in Mandavi, where she lives with her husband, daughter and two sons. But her tailoring skills are known beyond the confines of her community, as she sells her creations to five shops in Kabul, as well as filling orders that come in from Canada and the US.

Today, Nafisa’s 20 students not only learn from her, they help her produce the orders that continue to increase her business. And while she takes great pride in their accomplishments, her greatest sense of pride comes from the fact that her 22-year-old daughter is in college, studying to be a nurse, opening up a whole new career path that wouldn’t be possible without the support she’s received through FINCA loans.

“Without FINCA’s loans,” Nafisa says, “my family, and especially my daughter, would not have the kind of life we have today. I am so grateful that we’re looking at a brighter future.”

Read more stories of FINCA clients >>

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