What’s the sound of one eye blinking?
More cosmic questions at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.
There 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was an older man named Alejandro, who lived down the road from the Abbott’s monastery. He loved playing music from Mexico and the land of the Incas and played it night and day. He was hard of hearing so he had to play the music as loudly as he could, so he could hear his own voice and accompanying drum. Sometimes, he would drum and sing until he fell asleep just as the sun rose.
A number of the nuns were upset with Alejandro and complained to Abbott Tova about his annoying, and off-key voice and drumming, keeping them awake night after night.
The good Abbott knew that Alejandro pined for his childhood sweetheart, whom he’d married and lived with for sixty years. She wasn’t about to ask him to stop, but also understood how difficult it could be to sleep when his voice and instrument’s sounds traveled through the night air and seeped through one’s pores like slow torture.
“Please, do something,” one of the senior nun’s, Sam, implored Abbott Tova.
“I cannot ask him to stop, nor will I,” the Abbott replied.
“Then many of the nuns will fall asleep during practice and miss their chance for enlightenment,” Sister Sam retorted.
“If they are not able to awaken during sleep, then I have taught them nothing.”
“Many of the chores will not be done if they are sleeping during the day,” Sister Sam continued. “The garden will not be planted. The meals will not be prepared and the floors will not be swept.”
“So what? We’ll starve and live in filth, is so what.”
“You are only seeing two alternatives Sister Sam. Telling Alejandro that he can no longer sing for his lost love and find what little comfort it gives him, or letting him sing and our community goes to ruin.”
“I don’t see any other way,” Sister Sam surmised.
“Then you are caught in Limited Mind and must have slept badly. There is always another way.” Abbott Tova went to her chest and began rummaging around and throwing out one item after another. “Ah, here they are,” she said, and handed a bag to Sister Sam.
Sister Sam opened the bag, picked up a small wax ball and said, “What in the Goddesses name are these?”
“Are you blind, as well as sleep-deprived?” the Abbott laughed. “They’re earplugs.” Abbott Tova took a pair from the bag and placed them in her ears. “I’ve been wearing them for years and sleep like a baby. Hand them out to the nuns and there will be no more problems.”
“Oye veh!” Sister Sam exclaimed. “Why didn’t I think of this?”
“What?” Abbott Tova said, as she began replacing the items she’d removed from her chest.
“I said, I should have thought of this!”
“What? Speak up.”
“I said . . . oh it’s nothing.”
Sister Sam bowed three times, turned around counter-clockwise twice, and left with the bag of earplugs, amazed as always at the wisdom and compassion of the great Abbott.
More deaf-defying stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.
The power of now is already the past. The past will become the future and the future does not exist. Where are we going?
More koans and stories: 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.
“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.
We don’t know what is around the corner, but we know there is always a corner, unless we go straight, but then it’s difficult to get to a specific destination. But, then again, there is no need to get specific or always have a destination. Sometimes, not knowing where we are, or where we are going, keeps us grounded in the present and the unknown. Not knowing can be our friend and savior.
It is often the corners and our fear of what is around the bend, that prevents us from practicing wholeheartedly and without reservation. Fear can be a frightening emotion that takes us out of ourselves and throws us into the future or what lies deep in our subconscious. It is always beneficial to feel lost, let alone be lost.
Going directly into the fear, apprehension, and unknown is not easy, but it is the path we must follow. When possible, always take the beaten path, but when there is no path, road, or highway, we must make our own and not be afraid to step into the darkness, without a nightlight. And if the way is too hard or bumpy, one can just sit and wait and see what happens.
More lost words at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.
Mistress Toshiba and her adherents were walking back from town when a long-time student of Zen, who had studied with another teacher for fifteen years, passed by.
“Good day Mistress,” the student bowed.
Mistress Toshiba laughed loudly. The student stopped and looked confused.
“Why do you laugh Abbott Toshiba? Was it something I said?” The Mistress laughed again. “Are you laughing at me?” That question made Mistress Toshiba laugh even harder. She fell to her hands and knees with laughter. She was laughing so hard that she began to roll around on the ground.
“I don’t see what’s so funny!” the student exclaimed.
The Abbott was finally able to constrain herself and propped herself up with her hand.
“If you could see yourself, you would be laughing too,” Mistress Toshiba grinned.
The students looked at themselves up and down and didn’t see anything out of place or a cause for ridicule.
“What are you talking about? There’s nothing funny about me.”
“Like I said,” the Abbott replied, brushing the dust off her robe as she stood. “If you could see your SELF, you’d be laughing too.”
At that moment, the passing student realized that she did not know what her SELF was, let alone if there was such a thing. She immediately fell too her knees.
“Dear Master Toshiba, I beg that you take me as your student and allow me to attain wisdom in your community.”
“You are welcome to join us, whoever you are,” the Abbott replied, “but you do not need my permission. Who do you think ‘I’ am anyway?”
More who’s laughing at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.