Sunday, May 1, 2016

Joan Casey #11: San Francisco- Glen Park Neighborhood Gathering

Joan's Neighbors in Glen Park, San Francisco - A Special Remembrance!

video video
Two very short videos; Joan serving wine & kids playing on floor at Christmas 2014

Many thanks to Joan's neighborhood friends for holding this celebration of her life! Although we had moved away in 1990, she remained connected with her neighbors and looked forward to seeing them every time we visited SF. 

Although, we rented her home for many years, the last 3+ years were spent in supervising the restoring, repairing, remodeling and expanding living space in her prized 100+ little Victorian House on Surrey Street. 

I called it her 'little old lady' house, because she held onto it with tenacity as a treasured residence, filled with memories, joy and light. And, she had proudly bought it in 1978, with a rare loan for a single woman, which she delighted in paying off!

Always wiser than me in valuing things, Joan's vision was again proved when after she had found a builder she trusted and very much liked, she proceeded to define her dreams one at a time, until actually realizing them as having come true! Bravo! Missus Joan! The result is a home anyone would like to live in, including Joan. 

And, although Bellingham had long ago become her/our main home and community, she loved the idea of having a SF nest to visit, entertain guests and serve as a comfortable home away from home for extended periods. This wish had come true, before she left SF for the last time.....

After much consultation and thought, I've selected the following music for Joan’s memorial service at the Sausalito Presbyterian Church on May 21 at 1 PM:

1. One Hand, One Heart - from West Side Story - [Original Cast]
[sung at our wedding by Lynn Stradley

2. Song of the Vajra - a Buddhist chant created and sung by her Teacher, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

3. Ode to Joy - Beethoven

4. Canon in D - Pachebel

5. Dona Nobis Pacem - YouTube Botticelli/Brigham

6. Sheep Safely Graze - Bach 

7 Ave Maria - Schubert YouTube The Priests

8. GrandCanyon Suite - Ferde Grofe (instrumental)

9. Dance of the Blessed Spirits - Gluck

10. "On Eagle's Wings" - YouTube [Josh Groban Lyrics]

11. "The Soft Goodbye" - YouTube [Celtic Woman]

12. Sound of Music - YouTube  [Julie Andrews]

13 True Love - YouTube [Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly]

14. You’ll Never Walk Alone - YouTube Susan Boyle

15. Amazing Grace - YouTube -Elvis Presley 

16. Wind Beneath My Wings - I have Willie Nelson

17. Everlasting Road - Kitaro I have Album

18. Farewell - John Doan [Instrumental] I Have Album - Eire:Isle of the Saints
Now, I'm told to pick ONE of these as the theme during Memorial Service, with rest to be played either before or afterwards. 
That would have to be No. 2, I think.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Joan Casey #10

A Yantra Yoga Technique combining Movement & Sound
The Buddhist practice known as Dzogchen is briefly described here. It was -and is- the path chosen by Joan to lead her path toward enlightenment. 
It is not a strange tradition, but one I find to be all-inclusive and very helpful, since it encourages meditation and honest self-reflection, not a mere reliance upon icons and mysterious hocus-pocus. 

A tradition dating back to the 8th Century - and likely before - these teachings rely upon a scrupulous passing of knowledge from teacher to teacher, thus valuing lineages highly.  
This type of 'quality control', as I call it, provides an insurance against corruption over time. Buddhism hasn't relied upon evangelism, as we know it, but it's inherent truths and integrity in preserving the basic essence of the enduring teachings.
This, itself, is an attraction to me, as it was to Joan - a serious seeker for the purpose and meaning of life, and beyond. She sought her Dharma path in earnest, and found it in supporting preservation of nature, social justice and peace. I greatly admire her in that! 
Few can equal Joan's aspirations for good, or act on it as consistently or generously.

Things are happening more quickly now, so I am posting another Update to benefit those who may be planning to visit one of Joan's Memorial Services:

The Sausalito Presbyterian Church website is useful for those wanting directions, and finding parking, which is sometimes difficult. Just click on the Staff/Contact Tab to access this information.

The Flynn Memorial Home website is also helpful. Click on search button after entering "Casey" to find pictures, tributes, etc, plus directions.

Some additional music I'm considering includes:

10. "On Eagle's Wings" - YouTube [Josh Groban Lyrics]

11. "The Soft Goodbye" - YouTube [Celtic Woman]

12. Sound of Music - YouTube  [Julie Andrews]

13 True Love - YouTube [Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly]

More later................

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Joan Casey Update #9

Here are a few photos of Joan that show the progression from clown to marriage!
Joan in early Critter outfit

Joan has evolved into Lily, with Father's tuxedo!

Joan (Lily) & John (Big Red)
Joan (Lily) with Rusty, her Matron of Honor-to-be
Joan meets Corpulent Critter in her Dining Room
Joan & John got married June 17,1990!
After much consultation and thought, I've selected the following music for her memorial service at the Sausalito Presbyterian Church on May 21 at 1 PM:

1. One hand, one heart - from West Side Story, sung at our wedding by Lynn Stradley

2. Song of the Vajra - a Buddhist song by her Guru, Namkhai Norbu

3. Ode to Joy - Beethoven

4. Canon in D - Pachebel

5. Dona Nobis Pacem - Botticelli/Brigham

6. Bach - Sheep Safely Graze

7 Schubert - Ave Maria - The Priests

8. GrandCanyon Suite - Ferde Grofe (instrumental)

9. Gluck - Dance of the Blessed Spirits

More later........

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Joan Casey Update #8

Ah is the symbol of the primal state of the spirit. It is the female aspect, the mother fully expressed in divine wisdom. It is also the unborn, a state of being that is without thought. It is the essential state of Emptiness.

Here are more pertinent URLs: - This group held the Memorial Service for Joan on April 19. Many thanks to them for providing an opportunity for friends of Joan to attend! - This group will hold a Memorial Service for Joan on May 4 at 8 PM in the Red Cedar Zen Dharma Hall, 1021 North Forest St., Bellingham. Many thanks to them for providing another opportunity for friends of Joan to attend! - This group has held prayers for Joan from the moment of her passing; these are continuing until 49 days have passed - until May 31. Many thanks for these prayers, from a Buddhist Center close to Redding, CA. - This group is holding prayers for Joan, who attended several retreats and meetings with them, as did I. Many thanks to them for their prayers for Joan's well-favored rebirth! At one session, I was asked to read text to an audience of 400 - nervous! Rinpoche liked my accent, calling me "cowboy". Afterwards, I received a special name from him, that of "Windhorse", which later I found meant high praise. Additional explanations of Windhorse appear below: - Standard stuff. from Mr Google. - A more in-depth explanation.  - A commercial site, but with beautiful pictures!

prayer flags - More pretty pictures. - A Buddhist Group in Seattle who are also saying prayers for Joan.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Joan Casey Update #7

One change to the Memorial Service planned for Saturday, May 21 at the Sausalito Presbyterian Church is it now will begin at 1 PM.
 [not 2 PM as initially set]

Here are several pictures, plus URLs useful for those following this series of blogs about Joan

Sunset from our deck
Our Cabin retreat in Winthrop, WA
John with Irish Lass,
Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland
Our Eurovan home away from home
Joan & Giddy Gato

Joan at favorite activity - This City of Bellingham website has great views of Mt Baker and landscapes surrounding our home & explains why Joan loved living here. - This church is where Joan & I were married on June 17, 1990, by Rev George McLaird, who will also officiate her Memorial Service. - This is the place where a short Memorial for Joan will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 2 PM, enabling her relatives and childhood friends to easily attend. - This firm will inter Joan's cremains in the Casey burial plot at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, NY. They will engrave her name on the family headstone, underneath her parents' name. - Joan considered this Buddhist Dzogchen Community as her primary Sangha, although she attended many. Her Teacher, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, inspired her greatly. Donations in Joan's memory are welcome. - Joan took me to a RIGPA meeting, where its founder, Sogyal Rinpoche, first introduced Buddhist Dharma teachings to me, also inspiring me to meditate. - Joan met Tsultrim Allione, the female founder of Tara Mandala, and was inspired to learn that women make really good Buddhists. - A restaurant in Yonkers, NY, traditionally used by the Casey family. - This Blog's main URL to directly access these updates. - This was the hospital where Joan spent the last 3 weeks of her life. Donations can be made to this facility to benefit the Kiwanis Family House, where Critical Care Patients and/or their family members can stay across the street from the hospital for a very reasonable fee. - This is where Joan went for help with her respiratory disease for which there is no known cure. Donations welcomed to The Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic at UWMC which provides consultation and management of interstitial lung disease, including pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis and related diseases. University of Washington Medical Center, 1959 NE Pacific St., Seattle, WA 98195

Joan's trusted medical advisor isGanesh Raghu, MD, Professor of Medicine and Laboratory medicine(adjunct), Medicine; NN 429B UW medical center; Dir.Center for Interstitial Lung Dis.& Co-Dir.Scleroderma Cl, Laboratory Medicine; 3rd Floor UW Medical Center
206 598-6190, 206 340-5745; Box 356175; FAX: 206 598-2105;,


Friday, April 22, 2016

Dakini Power


Here is a lengthy direct quote from the TARA MANDALA Website describing DAKINI:
Tibetan Buddhism offers a unique premise: that to be a woman can actually be favorable on the path to spiritual realization. Padmasambhava, the eighth-century pioneer of Buddhism in Tibet, reasoned that women are better equipped to realize the wisdom of the teachings. Modern teachers have echoed this sentiment. As the Western nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo comments, “Many lamas have said that women make superior practitioners because they are able to dive into meditation much more easily than males. This is because many males are afraid of dropping the intellect, especially monks who have been studying for a long time. To suddenly just let that go and be naked in the meditation experience is frightening for them, whereas women seem to be able to manage it naturally.”[i]
 A female embodiment of enlightenment is called a dakini in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. But what exactly is a dakini? Dakinis are elusive and playful by nature; trying to nail them down with a neat definition means missing them, since defying narrow intellectual concepts is at the core of their wise game.
“To me the special female quality (which of course many men have as well) is first of all a sharpness, a clarity,” says Tenzin Palmo, who has vowed to attain enlightenment in a female body. “It cuts through—especially intellectual ossification. It . . . gets to the point. To me the dakini principle stands for the intuitive force. Women get it in a flash—they’re not interested in intellectual discussion which they normally find dry and cold with minimum appeal.”[ii] 
 As Khandro Rinpoche, whose very name literally means “precious dakini,” points out: “Traditionally, the term dakini has been used for outstanding female practitioners, consorts of great masters, and to denote the enlightened female principle of nonduality which transcends gender.” Khandro Rinpoche defines the authentic dakini principle as “a very sharp, brilliant wisdom mind that is uncompromising, honest, with a little bit of wrath.” This, to me, is a very exact description of the qualities of the teachers who are featured in this book. Despite their gentleness and humor, I experience many of the female teachers as direct, sharply intelligent, radical, and courageous. 
The dakini principle must not be oversimplified, as it carries many levels of meaning. On an outer level, accomplished female practitioners were called dakinis, and it is in this sense that the term is used in the title of this book. But ultimately, though she appears in female form, a dakini defies gender definitions. “To really meet the dakini, you have to go beyond duality,” Khandro Rinpoche teaches, referring to an essential principle in Vajrayana that the absolute reality cannot be grasped intellectually. The Tibetan word for dakini, khandro, means “sky-goer” or “space-dancer,” which indicates that these ethereal awakened ones have left the confinements of solid earth and have the vastness of open space to play in. 
Practitioner-scholar Judith Simmer-Brown differentiates four levels of meaning:
“On a secret level, she is seen as the manifestation of fundamental aspects of phenomena and the mind, and so her power is intimately associated with the most profound insights of Vajrayana meditation. In this her most essential aspect, she is called the formless wisdom nature of the mind itself. 
On an inner, ritual level, she is a meditational deity, visualized as the personification of qualities of buddhahood. 
On an outer, subtle-body level, she is the energetic network of the embodied mind in the subtle channels and vital breath of tantric yoga. 
She is also spoken of as a living woman: she may be a guru on a brocaded throne or a yogini meditating in a remote cave, a powerful teacher of meditation or a guru’s consort teaching directly through her life example. Finally all women are seen as some kind of dakini manifestation.”[iii]
Thus, dakinis appear in many forms. “The dakinis are the most important elements of the enlightened feminine in Tibetan Buddhism,” says American teacher Tsultrim Allione.[iv] “They are the luminous, subtle, spiritual energy, the key, the gatekeeper, the guardian of the unconditioned state. If we are not willing to invite the dakini into our life, then we cannot enter these subtle states of mind. Sometimes the dakinis appear as messengers, sometimes as guides, and sometimes as protectors.” 
The Himalayas were always a nursery for highly accomplished female practitioners and to some extent still are. The yoginis might live in remote hermitages or nunneries as devoted practitioners, or as the wives, mothers, or daughters of famous teachers. Students often sought their advice informally, but women rarely wrote books, sat on high thrones or assumed lofty titles of their own. “There were certainly many great female practitioners in Tibet,” says Tenzin Palmo. “But because they lacked a background of philosophical training, they could not aspire to write books, gather disciples, go on Dharma tours, and give talks. When we read the histories, we will notice that nuns are distinguished by their absence. But this doesn’t mean they weren’t there.”[i] 
While iconic archetypes of feminine enlightenment were erected on shrines, few women in Tibet were actually emboldened to follow in their footsteps. Despite the encouraging quote of the pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism that women’s potential to attain liberation is supreme, most Buddhist cultures throughout the centuries perceived women as lesser beings. The few encouraging statements are outnumbered by plenty of passages in the writings attributed to Padmasambhava and other masters that lament the hardships of womanhood. Commonly used Tibetan words for woman, l├╝men or kyemen, literally mean “inferior being” or “lesser birth.” Some orthodox masters doubt to this day if women can attain realization at all, and age-old liturgies have women pray for a better rebirth in a male body. 
Therefore Dakini Power is dedicated to the female teachers and practitioners, to honor their lives and accomplishments as shining examples of dedication, compassion and realization. 
[i]. Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2002), p. 78. 
[ii]. Tenzin Palmo, as quoted in Vicki Mackenzie, Cave in the Snow: Tenzin Palmo’s Quest for Enlightenment (New York: Bloomsbury, 1999), p. 133. 
[iii]. Judith Simmer-Brown, Dakini’s Warm Breath (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2001), p. 9. This is a very thoroughly researched scholarly exploration of the dakini principle. See also her important article about how Tibetan Buddhism's divine feminine plays a role in American Buddhism's gender wars. 
[iv]. Some of the teachings Lama Tsultrim Allione has given on the topic have been recorded and distributed as The Mandala of the Enlightened Feminine (Louisville, CO: Sounds True, 2003). I quote from the recording here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Joan Casey - Memorial Services Update #6

Joan Casey, my dear wife

Last Tuesday night, April 19, a special service was held for Joan at the Shambhala Dharma Hall in Bellingham.
Many friends attended to honor her life and its memories, and to pray for her well-favored rebirth.
I am very grateful for this honor, as I know Joan's spirit is as well.

Included here are scans of the documents used in this service, including 2 photos of Joan, the first of which was burned at the end. Very moving...
Joan dearly loved 'Birding'

Joan was always interested in nature, and naturally gravitated to the study of birds, especially in latter years. 
It was a good way to travel and get outdoors, often with other people who respected the natural environment and tried to protect and conserve it. 
I accused her of trying to convert the NOUN 'BIRD' to a VERB, often calling her BIRD-A-DEE and other nonsense. 
She seemed to welcome this, at least most of the time.

Once, on a birding trip to Trinidad & Tobago, we met fellow BIRDERS, dressed like the cartoonist, Gary Larson used to depict, who asked me what were my favorite birds - to which I responded; Chicken and Turkey! 
That response took them aback, but in time became an often repeated anecdote which Joan loved - at least to a point...

Those who attended this service mainly included Joan's Buddhist friends, but also her hiking buddies from the Bellingham Mountaineers. How nice!

The program was simple, short and reflective, just the way Joan preferred, and followed by an informal reception with some of her favorite foods* - something she always enjoyed.
[red wine, salmon, cheese, blackberries, apples, crackers and dark chocolate]

The Program, Chant and special Prayer she liked are reproduced below:

This ceremony was treasured by me and, I know, by Joan - because she had requested it!