Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Reverse 9/11; 11/9 What we've done to ourselves: A Poisonous Dark Day for America

The cause of human suffering, as explained in Buddhist terms, are greed, anger and ignorance. 
These negative traits and fundamental evils are called the Three Poisons, because they are dangerous toxins in our lives. 
These poisons fill our lives with suffering, and unhappiness.
A cockerel, snake and a pig represent what are often referred to as The Three Poisons
The cockerel is greed, the snake is hatred and the pig is ignorance
I believe this Election was won largely based upon negative emotions, including a large dose of apathy on the part of many who ought to be ashamed they let this happen, and doubly ashamed of letting Trump get away with a campaign based upon ignorance, fear and greed. 

Unfortunately, it may take a long time for America to recover from this gross lack of collective wisdom. But, let's hope we do without bringing on more grief than we -and the world - can handle.

It is well known that emotional appeals have a time advantage over more rational arguments. We can see this demonstrated everyday. Maybe it would be helpful to examine this simple phenomenon from an ancient perspective, including the Greek Philosophers and Buddhist Scholars.

Emotion, in everyday speech, is any relatively brief conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure.

Destructive emotions and Their Antidotes

Greed/Attachment - Generosity

Anger/Aversion - Compassion

Ignorance - Wisdom

Several years ago, when I was just starting to study Buddhist philosophy, I learned about these negative traits and fundamental evils that are called the three poisons. 

Fortunately, I also learned these also have antidotes; meaning if we are aware of the causes of the Three Poisons, we can counter them with three effective cures, but first, we must become aware!
Sometimes pride and jealousy are added, with pride being a combination of ignorance and attachment, and jealousy a combination of attachment and aggression.

Plutchik's Wheel of EmotionsRobert Plutchik's theory says that the eight basic emotions are:

  • Fear → feeling afraid. Other words are terror (strong fear), shock, phobia
  • Anger → feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage.
  • Sadness → feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died) or depression (feeling sad for a long time). Some people think depression is a different emotion.
  • Joy → feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness.
  • Disgust → feeling something is wrong or dirty
  • Trust → a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker
  • Anticipation → in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
  • Surprise → how one feels when something unexpected happens
  • Shame, opposite confidence (shame: how one feels about one's past bad actions or thoughts; shamelessness: one does not feel shame, but others think one should.)
  • Kindness (benevolence), opposite cruelty (kindness: when people are good to other people)
  • Pity (when people feel sorry for other people)
  • Indignation (feeling angry because something is not fair, such as undeserved bad fortune)
  • Envy, jealous (pain when people have something that one wishes for oneself)
  • Love, a strong emotion of attachment one feels for someone else. Ranges to family, pets, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband.
Emotions are what drive us and what drive us astray. You cannot persuade without understanding them well.

This leaves us with four "basic" emotions, according to another study: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. 

It is common to think that emotions interfere with rational thinking. 
Plato described emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions. 
Modern dual-systems models of judgment and decision-making are Platonic in the sense that they endorse the antagonism between reason and emotion.

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion. Several studies conclude that up to 90 percent of the decisions we make are based on emotion.

Unfortunately, this seems all too true regarding the American public's selection of Trump as the most important elected official in the world!
God help us, and may God save the United States of America from the dangers of hate, greed and ignorance.

That is my fervent wish for us all, and the World....

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween: My Irish Colleen

I received this today from a dear friend of Joan and asked her if I could post here.
She agreed, so here it is:

As you might expect, this brought a tear to my eye, as I remembered our unique time together...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

An E-blast Update: Six Months After Joan’s Passing

Hi Folks:

Sorry I've been too slow in updating this blog.
One week from today will mark six-months since Dear Joan passed away.

I thought about that today, while driving to/from Seattle under a gray sky that drizzled intermittently.
Amidst the grayness, tree leaves stood out in their changing colors, yellows, reds and in-between green.
The seasons are definitely passing, as they always do, even in a man’s life; I thought that while remembering a book on the same theme which helped me through an earlier tough patch - a mid-life crisis.

That other time, hard lessons were learned and much suffering endured, with memories of sadness, a sense of irretrievable loss, questioning of what had gone wrong and why, and yet somehow knowing that despite this set-back, I needed to get on with my life. [so glad I did!]

Maybe, that earlier time helped prepare me for the suddenness of Joan’s departure, but it’s hard to say, because this current pain doesn’t seem to fade much either, despite my determined efforts to focus on the love we shared as true kindred spirits. All I have to do is watch that 8-minute You-Tube clip of our wedding. Talk about the experience of joy!

In the car this morning, every time I reached over for her hand, it wasn’t there. Hard to not miss that warm feeling…
But, I know her beautiful spirit lives! 
Just knowing that really helps inspire me to keep going strong, and rejoin the world of the living.

This last 6 months there has been so much to do, getting affairs organized and beginning to plan for my own ending.
I am very thankful for the help so many people have given me to make this transition proceed so remarkably smoothly!
Here’s a synopsis:

Memorials - The series of six planned Memorials served to allow many of Joan’s circles of friends and family to remember her bright smile, love of life and joyous spirit! Those events also helped me share the wonderful support of the many others who also loved her. I greatly appreciate that! Also, many other gatherings and remembrances were held in Joan’s honor, and these were truly amazing in their combined effect! Thank you all.

Legal - I’ve now gotten much more familiar with lawyers and their trade, both in Bellingham and in San Francisco. These folks have been essential in handling the provisions of Joan’s Will and the Probate process. I’ll be using them again soon, for my own end-of-life planning.

Real Estate - Our beloved Bellingham home of 26 years has been sold and is now occupied by a couple with 2 teenage sons. I know they will love living there as much as we did.

I have purchased and moved into a Condominium in the Fairhaven [Old Town] section of Bellingham, near the Bay, trails, eateries and instant social life - should I want it.

Joan’s wonderful Victorian house in San Francisco’s Glen Park Neighborhood is in Probate, now being valued so that her Estate can be finally settled. Her wish was have our good friends, Ilya & Rina Kolesnikov, live there with their 2 sons, and this will happen soon. 
Joan bought that house in 1978, as a single woman, and paid it off! Wish I had made such a good investment! [Come to think of it, I did - by marrying Joan!]

Joan’s beloved Cabin of 18 years, called "Moose Lodge" in Winthrop, WA has not yet been sold; but it has been rented for 6-months over the Winter and will be put back on the market next year.

Monetary Assets - These are all being consolidated to simplify accounting needs, including the IRS, using the expert advice of advisors who will coordinate these efforts with me and the Legal folks.

Autos - I sold my 2003 Volkswagen Eurovan, traded in Joan’s Subaru Outback, and bought a 2016 Honda CRV Touring model that seems much smarter than I am! It does fit my needs, and my basement parking spot better. 

Ongoing Stuff - I've already gotten rid of, literally, a ton of stuff just to fit into my smaller space; now, the job of sorting through remaining books, correspondence, files, pictures, slides, memories, Buddhist publications and notes demands attention. 

Next Steps - What are my plans now, you might ask? 
Several essential tasks include updating my Will, developing a Revocable Living Trust, Updating my Advance Healthcare Directive and creating a Durable Power of Attorney. 

Next, I’ll be getting IRS returns prepared and submitted, using a CPA this time! 

I am also now motivated to maintain a better level of physical health to help enjoy life; practice regular spiritual meditation; visit relatives and friends; stay in touch with others better; continue reading and all-life-learning pursuits.

Above all, I am going to continue to honor Joan’s Memory in the very best way I can...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another Joan Casey Tribute: Special Thanks to the "A" Team!

This last month has been a bear!
Never thought this much could be done in so short a time, but now it's happened and the home Joan & I thoroughly enjoyed for 26 years will go on the market tomorrow, Thursday July 28, 2016.
Meanwhile, I am ensconced in my new Condo in Fairhaven - something Joan & I had considered for some time, and that I am sure she would approve!

Here are six pictures taken by my good friend, Mark Turner, which will be used to advertise our former home at 1015 West Toledo Street:
Interior, showing view to NNW across deck
Interior, showing Living Room & Kitchen in background
Interior, from Kitchen through Dining Area to Deck & View
Master Bedroom
View from Deck to NNW, Canadian Mountains
Exterior, showing Solar Array atop Garage & Front Entrance
Not much of this progress could have been accomplished in so short a time, without the amazing help of my "A" Team! 
All of these folks were friends of Joan and me, who pitched in and greatly helped me make this transition happen so smoothly and -relatively- painlessly. 
I am very thankful for the help they all offered.
Here's a list, that hopefully includes -almost- everyone:
  • Ilya Kolesnikov
  • Klara Weis
  • Anne Mosness
  • Mary Durbrow
  • Jim Hildt
  • Roni Lenore
  • Mike Kaufman
  • Naomi Bunis
  • Helen McLeod
  • Kurt Lindemann
  • Regina Montano
  • Shelly Murray
  • Ann Davidge
  • Donna Rushing
  • Tim Burnett
  • Bob Davis
  • Margaret Weiland
  • Bob Carlitz
  • Katie Carlitz
  • Rina Kolesnikov
  • Vladimir Kolesnikov
  • Anatoly Kolesnikov
  • Laurie Heck
To these special people goes my heartfelt thanks!
They prove that when things are tough, true friends arise to occasion!
Joan is smiling - as always...

Monday, June 6, 2016

Joan Casey Update # 26: BUF Celebration of Life

The DEE Cloud
From a friend: As I left the fellowship celebration I snapped this picture of a singular cloud floating above and lingering well beyond the others leaving. 
Whispering marvelous wishes. 

PS: for some reason the email from my phone on Saturday went around the world for a few days and back .

Does this remind you of  anyone?
Missus Joan was famous for lingering at an enjoyable event until she was the last to leave...
Would it surprise you that she may have enjoyed this last celebration of her life?

The event at BUF worked well, with about 60 folks signing the guest book and 12 rising to say a few words recalling experiences they had with Joan. All seemed to really enjoy seeing 8-minute short video of wedding, which displayed the joy which pervaded our lives together.

Afterwards, the reception continued for about an hour.
Then, it was over - except for the memories of a life well-lived.
No wonder Missus Joan may have lingered!
It really was a celebration of her life...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Joan Casey Update #25: Our Wedding @ SPC

This is a 8-minute video clip that highlights our wedding on June 17, 1990

What a Happy Day our wedding was!
And, what a happy marriage it produced.
The Celebration of Joan's Life at the Sausalito Presbyterian Church on May 21 recalled the earlier event and infused its happiness into people's hearts all over again!
It certainly lifted my spirits to recall, experience again, and anticipate such infectious joy in the future.
And, I know Joan was very happy!
Just take my word for it...

A trip to the Sausalito Church website will provide another chance to view the above clip, plus more pictures taken and posted by our friends afterwards - which was also amazing!
Enjoy this as I have.
I expect to show it at the final Memorial for Joan - at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, June 4 at 2 PM.
Come one, come all to remember Joan's irrepressible persona...
Recorded music and light refreshments to follow.
An AD in the Herald will repeat this invitation more widely, starting this Sunday and running for 3 days...

Joan Casey Update #24: On Clowns

Joan - before John
Joan as Lily
Lily & Big Red - A Clown Couple

Joan meets Corpulent Critter (Big Red has grown really big!
Critters as Ushers @ Joan & John's Wedding

Friday, May 20, 2016

Joan Casey Update #23: Celebration of Life Video

Ms Joan Casey

I arrived in San Francisco yesterday and came straight to Joan's house with our friend Ilya.
The house was immaculate and I can imagine Joan exclaiming it was so wonderful. The weather was bright but windy, giving motion to trees and clouds outside the kitchen windows.

Joan's oldest Cousin, Clifford McCormick and Juanita, his wife of over 67 years, arrived before 6 PM after driving up from Palm Springs in one day.

Our friend Fedor came soon after with bags of groceries to cook his famous 'weapon', a potato dish with other veggies, herbs, etc. 
It smelled wonderful and tasted even better! 

He also made a great salad with cabbage, lemon and pomegranate seeds which complimented the 'weapon' very well. 
And, he made a terrific mushroom dish with beef that rounded out the meal. 

Of course, a little wine was also in order, followed by cookies and chocolate.

This welcoming dinner ended up including 8 people, plus a neighbor who dropped in. 
Missus Joan would have been proud - and very happy!

Afterwards, we watched our Wedding Ceremony on DVD/TV - all 90 minutes of it, with just a few fast-forwards. 

A good time was had by all, especially under the circumstances under which we had gathered. 
A really good sleep followed.

This morning, Rev George McLaird came by to meet with me and ended up talking with Cliff, Juanita, Ilya and me for almost 2 hours! 
He had brought a printed program that looks just great.

So, tomorrow is the day we travel to Sausalito for Joan's Celebration of Life. 
Joan with some Lad in Dingle, Ireland
I expect a pretty good crowd to exchange pleasant memories in good fellowship - another thing much valued by Joan.

Our friend, Robin Sinclair - who sang at our wedding - produced a short clip of our wedding from the original tape which will be added to the website at Sausalito Presbyterian Church.
John with some Irish Lass