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:


http://bellingham.shambhala.org - 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!

http://www.redcedarzen.org - 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!

http://chagdudgonpa.org - 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.

http://www.siddharthasintent.org - 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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_Horse - Standard stuff. from Mr Google.


http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Lungta - A more in-depth explanation.

http://www.windhorsetibet.com  - A commercial site, but with beautiful pictures!

prayer flags - More pretty pictures.

http://www.nalandawest.org - 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
https://www.cob.org - This City of Bellingham website has great views of Mt Baker and landscapes surrounding our home & explains why Joan loved living here. 

http://sausalitopres.org - This church is where Joan & I were married on June 17, 1990, by Rev George McLaird, who will also officiate her Memorial Service.

http://flynnmemorialhome.com - 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.

http://grayrockmemorialsandflorist.com - 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.

http://dzogchencommunitywest.org - 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.

http://usa.rigpa.org - Joan took me to a RIGPA meeting, where its founder, Sogyal Rinpoche, first introduced Buddhist Dharma teachings to me, also inspiring me to meditate.

http://www.dakinipower.com/tsultrim-allione/ - Joan met Tsultrim Allione, the female founder of Tara Mandala, and was inspired to learn that women make really good Buddhists.  

http://www.rorydolans.com - A restaurant in Yonkers, NY, traditionally used by the Casey family.

http://bellinghamstertalk.blogspot.com - This Blog's main URL to directly access these updates.

http://www.shastaregional.com - 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.

http://www.uwmedicine.org/uw-medical-center - 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;
graghu@uw.edu, graghu@u.washington.edu

===============================================

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dakini Power

DAKINI (SANSKRIT): A FEMALE MESSENGER OF WISDOM

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, lümen 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!
---------------------------------------------

Monday, April 18, 2016

Joan Casey - Health Update #5 - Memorial Services Planned & Thanks!

Today's Update summarizes Memorial Services being held now and planned for the future.

1. Sausalito [CA] Presbyterian Church - Saturday, May 21 at 2PM, with Reverend George McLaird presiding. Open invitation to all. Coffee/Tea after. George married Joan & me on June 17, 1990 in a wonderful ceremony lasting 45 minutes, that was filmed. When he asked Joan why she was marrying me, she said "he makes me laugh". That was good enough answer for George; we've been laughing often together ever since. All are welcome!

2. The Tsegyalgar West Dzogchen Community in Berkeley, CA - Special Buddhist Prayers are being offered since before Joan's death that continue now until her joyous spirit is reborn. Her Teacher, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, has prayed for her, a spiritual blessing that Joan wished for and has now received.

3. The Bellingham Shambhala Community is holding a special blessing service for Joan, on Tuesday, April 19 at 7:30 PM at the Shambhala Center at 2825 Meridian Street, Suite #201 [across from Haggen's] Joan was frequently included in this Sangha and has many friends there.

4. The Zen Buddhist Community in Bellingham is holding a special service for Joan on Wednesday, May 4 at 8 PM, in the Red Cedar Zen Center at 1021 North Forest. Joan was also frequently included in this group's meditations and has many friends there.All are welcome.

5. A special memorial service will be held in Yonkers, NY at the Flynn Memorial Home, 1614 Central Park Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10710 on Saturday, May 14 at 2 PM. Joan wished for her cremated remains to be interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, in the Casey Burial Plot, alongside her father, mother and brother. All are welcome. Coffee or Tea afterward.

6. The Nalandabodhi Buddhist Community in Seattle will be offering special prayers for Joan soon, with time & place to be determined.

7. The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship is planning to honor Joan's life in a simple service soon. Several of Joan's friends will collaborate to arrange this event. All are welcome.

8. Siddhartha's Intent Buddhist Community in Vancouver, BC, Canada has been asked to hold a special remembrance of Joan which will likely occur soon.

9. Since Joan's beliefs were sincere, ecumenical and widespread, additional observances may be also forthcoming from:

* The Tsegyalgar East Dzogchen Community in Conway, Massachusetts;

* The Rigpa Buddhist Community in San Francisco is requesting prayers and a practice be held for Joan at Lerab Ling, the main retreat Main RIGPA Center in France, with the message that the practitioners have started to practice for Joan. Her name is also being sent to a monastery in India, where her photo will projected on screens to bring blessing and support.

* Prayers have also been requested from Tara Mandala, where Lama Tsultrim Allione has stated:
  Dakinis tend to appear during moments of transitions when we might not know what to do next. The dakinis will remove the blockage.

* So many others have prayed for Joan that I'm losing count!

* Special recognition is due three Vajra Sisters of Joan:

- Erica Rayner-Horn, whom Joan requested I contact immediately after entering the Hospital, and offered comforting support in reaching out to the Buddhist Community.

-Patty Cashman, a Buddhist Chaplain from Shasta, who made the trip to be with Joan and me to comfort us before the end came.

- Nora McKay, who arrived the night before Joan passed away and was with her until the end.

* I am very thankful for the visits made to Joan's bedside by several of her friends:

- Ilya Kolesnikov - San Francisco

- Margaret Weiland and Bob Davis from Seattle/Bellingham

- Kym Sites and Paula McShane Conway - San Francisco Neighbors

- Sherri Brown - Sacramento

- Fedor Kolesnikov -San Francisco

* Hospital Staff, including Doctors, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, others who brought compassion and comfort to Joan during her 3-week confinement.

* Finally, all those who offered sympathy the only ways reasonably possible - phone, e-mail and letters - too numerous to count. Again, heartfelt Thanks!

When more of these events become firmed up, notice will be periodically posted here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Joan Casey - Health Update #3 [4/9/2016]

Mountain Bliss in Happier Times

This will advise Joan’s present condition, the steps taken that lead to this point, and the hopes, expectations and goals we are working toward in the future:

Earlier Health updates will give the background for this one; these are available from those who received them previously, as well as my blog - BellinghamHamsterTalk - at this URL: http://bellinghamstertalk.blogspot.com

Presently, Joan is in ICU Room 2039 at Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding, CA, where she has been since March 22, and is receiving excellent care. 
This hospital has won recognition as one of America’s 100 best hospitals each of the last 2 years, and we are confident she is getting the very best care possible under the circumstances.

Our plan is to get her well enough to transfer to another hospital closer to home, including either University of Washington Hospital in Seattle, or University of California Hospital in San Francisco.
Recently, a Hospital to Hospital Transfer application to the University Of Washington Hospital was rejected because Joan was too weak and ill to meet their criteria. This was disappointing, but has given us the opportunity to reassess our options, more realistically. 
With the choices available, Joan must remain here until she is deemed well enough to leave.

Here’s what we have decided to do, with Joan’s and our Doctors’ concurrence:

1. Joan will remain in ICU indefinitely, until she improves sufficiently to move or be released. Here she will receive maximum care and attention. She retains a strong will to survive and live her life as fully as possible, event though that may entail constant supplemental oxygen and/or walker or wheelchair. Her first wish is to live her life in our Bellingham home, using private care as may be needed.

2. Joan agreed to being intubated under sedation, understanding fully the implications and complications that may result. She does not wish to remain on a ventilator for the rest of her life, and does not want become a ‘vegetable’ in the event of cardiac arrest or other adverse event. In those cases, she does not want to be revived. In the possible event she doesn’t survive, her wish is to be cremated with remains sent to her family cemetery in Westchester County, NY.

3. Here is our mutually agreed rationale for proceeding with intubation:

a. She was not improving under the earlier treatment; for a while she did, but this improvement plateaued and stalled, which increasingly caused her pain, anxiety and weakness, all not good for her recovery goals, including meeting the criteria required for her release or transfer.

b. Her condition proved more serious than initially assessed, due to the added complicated of an unknown infection possibly in her lungs, which was being treated without observable improvement. The intubation allows a better assessment of this infection, which could lead to more effective treatment and improvement. 

c. Joan has a respiratory disease known as Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis [IPF], for which she has been under treatment for a few years with Pulmonary Specialists in Seattle and Bellingham. 
This a lung impairment that makes her susceptible to other lung ailments. She has been using a CPAP machine at night to assist her breathing, supplemented with oxygen from an INOGEN device. 
She also wears an oxygen nose tube to assist her breathing while walking or during other exercise. There is no known cure for this disease, which is progressive in nature. Treatment does help slow down the adverse effects of IPF, but sometimes produces harmful side effects, such as diarrhea, etc.

d. Joan had become very fatigued recently, in pain from chronic lower back discomfort, anxious about her condition, and possibly unnamed infections, all of which combine to result in her current weakened state. The diarrhea in particular has caused or contributed to severe dehydration and depletion of necessary electrolytes. This condition, alone, may require hospitalization.

e. The lack of truly restful sleep has exacerbated all of the above difficulties. The more she tries to relax, the greater the anxiety and frustration with her condition grows, making it difficult former to improve her quality of life. Too much activity and excitement is not good for her.

All of the above conditions have combined for us to seek early intubation. We are viewing this as a step that had to be taken anyway if she were to be moved. An added bonus is that intubation with sedation allows the improvements necessary to proceed better. The other steps toward release or transfer can be taken once she improves.

This is our plan; Get Joan well and return her to a more normal life!

During the time she has been hospitalized, Joan has been greatly blessed by the enormous response from friends and family members who love her dearly and pray former recovery. 
This really helps!

This Update helps me to convey what has happened more clearly and widely. 
I can send copies to those who wish them, remember better what this summarizes, and provide a website for others to read for themselves.

Instead of having a circle of friends, Joan truly has circle of circles of friends! 
She loves you all and greatly welcomes your prayers, best thoughts and encouragement!

Sorry to have taken so long to say all this, but now its done……

Joan sends her love to all of you.

Bye for now,

Her Husband John Watts
360 961-4579

Friday, April 1, 2016

Personal: An e-Mail to Missus Joan

Today is April 1, 2016, another good day for you, Joan Casey, to recover your health and strength, and that's not a joking matter,

Here is some news that will definitely cheer you up: 
SSA Marine is suspending its EIS on the proposed GPT Coal Terminal at Cherry Point!

These are links to stories that appear in today's Bellingham Herald, Seattle Times and Northwest Citizen:

1. Lead story

2. Project Timeline

3. Corps of Engineers Statement on EIS decision

Here is the link to Seattle Times Article:

And, here's the link to Northwest Citizen Article:

That's quite enough excitement for you right now, since you need mostly rest to get better.

I have decided to post here the e-mail updates I've been sending to people about your health:
====================================================
To: Missus Joan

From: Mister John

Here is the latest report I’ve sent to 'The World’ today, regarding your present health status.Since many of the 150+ forwarded recipients haven’t heard of your recent health problems, I am also repeating the first Update below for reference.

While you are continuing to improve, it will take a while before you can travel by car to reach our home in Bellingham - 750 miles north. Maybe a few days, possibly more, as time will tell.

You are receiving excellent care here at SRMC, and the Doctors have coordinated with your Doctors in Seattle about your treatment plans. They are working diligently at helping you get better. 

But, you are the main player in this real life drama! Your job is to REST, BREATHE better, LOSE the anxiety, and MAINTAIN a positive attitude. That’s it! Tough job but you can do it - strong woman that you are.

So, I’m asking those recipients who wish to communicate their good wishes to continue doing so through me, as your loving husband and self-appointed gatekeeper for now.

So, without further ado, here's the first Health Update repeated below.

Hope you approve - and IMPROVE! 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is an update on Joan's condition:

On our way home from San Francisco to Bellingham, we made a rest stop in Redding, CA, where Joan was too weak to walk. I helped her to the restroom, then concluded a call to local EMS was necessary. This occurred on Tuesday, March 22, about 6PM.

Joan was taken to Shasta Regional Medical Center, where she remains today.
She is improving slowly from Oxygen depletion in her blood, severe dehydration and some unknown infection, eating well and sleeping better, but still regaining her strength and ability to breathe adequately. It will likely be a few more days before she is ready to travel by car.

Meanwhile, both of our cell phones work, but it is better to call me @ 360 961-4579.
Also, e-mail and messages work. 

I am staying in rooms maintained by the hospital across the street, so I see her often. The facilities here @ SRMC are excellent, rated in the 100 best hospitals in the US for 2 years running. 
The local Doc has been in touch with Joan's Pulmonologist @ Univ of Washington hospital in Seattle, and they concur with her treatment plans. That is not a concern.

So, bottom line is not to worry overmuch. She is receiving excellent care, but your prayers and supportive thoughts are always very welcome!😀
----------------
John Watts & Joan Casey
1015 W Toledo St
Bellingham, WA 98229
360 647-2346
jwatts1938@comcast.net
(360) 961-4579

thumb_IMG_0020.JPG_1024.jpg
In happier and healthier days-