I HAD A DREAM.

I had flown into the small airport of Castlegar in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia for my son’s wedding in the summer of 2009. The short hop over the Rockies in a Dash 8 aircraft from Calgary was spectacular – especially the flight into Castlegar airport. The wingtips seemed to touch the valley mountains, as the aircraft swerved sharply into the river fringed village of Castlegar. My son, his bride to be – Nancy – and my grandson Callun were there to pick me up and deliver me to where I was staying that night in nearby Nelson. The wedding ceremony was the next day in the Tibetan Buddhist Gompa. I was expected to wear my Buddhist duds as I was there not only as a Dad but also apparently as a Zen teacher!

That evening in Nelson I had an unforgettable dream, vivid in every detail. I dreamt I was in a river running kayak, sitting quietly in a pool outside the swift eddies that raced to the edge of a waterfall that was huge, sheer, with a vertical drop of 1,000 feet. The kayak was bright yellow. The short stubby craft was an extension of my body. My wetsuit was black and I wore a red lifejacket tightly fastened. My helmet was also red. The shaft of the paddle was black and the twin blades a dancing red. I looked around at the high mountains and forest. I noted the mist rising from the swift flowing river before pushing out into the racing eddies straight to the edge of the waterfall. As I went over the edge I raised the paddle high over my head and leaned back into the kayak. I did nothing to steer or guide the kayak. The descent seemed forever though timeless. Yet in a moment my craft had submerged into the river below and then I was bobbing on the surface paddling downstream.

My first thought in the dream as I manoeuvred close to the river’s edge was “That was a really bad run. I didn’t do anything.” Then moments later in the dream I stopped my thinking, realizing that it was the perfect run, precisely because I did not do anything. My lack of insight was that I missed the surrender to the fierce current of the waterfall, to the awesome power of the stream of consciousness. I had to share this dream with Iain and Nancy next morning, so they could perhaps see for themselves the surrender to the other necessary for their marriage to work well. They received it and understood. Their dharma and mountain friends enjoyed an incredible wedding in the Tibetan Gompa. Although there was a mountain of alcohol at the reception and dance afterwards, hardly anyone drank, as the “high” was the quality of celebration and surrender in the wedding ceremony.

I have thought about this dream a great deal and the reflections are revealing. The creation of my 2008 book – Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves – was part of this surrender though I did not realize it at the time. It was written from an unusual place and was also the midpoint for two trilogies of books. Several years ago at the beginning of spring after a severe winter in Canada, I participated in a sweat lodge ceremony with respected elders from the Ojibway, Dene and Mohawk First Nations. We made deeply personal and collective commitments to serve the Earth. At the end of the final round of the ceremony we emerged into the pristine beauty of a late snowfall under a clear star studded sky. There had been a two-inch snowfall during the ceremony. As we walked barefoot to where we were camping I turned round and saw our footprints in the snow. It seemed as though these were the first footprints on the new Earth. I gestured to my companions to stop and look. They silently shared the same insight with soft smiles. In that instant the stillness and silence renewed our commitments to serve the Earth with all our hearts and minds. Failsafe was born from that moment at the end of winter in 2006.

It was published in October 2008.  I was giving a talk about this experience to an audience in Vancouver and suddenly found myself talking about two previous books I had written and the next three books. Failsafe was the midpoint. These books had all been writing me, although I was not aware of it. Each book had issued forth from the experience of profound silence. There was a life work inside that was writing me!  It took me twelve years to wake up to this. The first book – Anthropology at The Edge was published in 1997, followed by The Essential Spiral in 2002 and Failsafe in 2008. These books talk to you from the seasons of my life.  My insights, disasters and occasional breakthroughs are its basis.

The second trilogy begins with Redemption. It was a lost manuscript, first written in 1975. I rediscovered this heartfelt book in 2011. The narrative was vivified with hindsight from my writer’s eye forty years later. The story is an allegory for life difficulties I experienced at that time. I was a real mess, yet despite my desperate state of mind this novel about Awakening emerged. Laced with grim humor, the novel has nature’s harsh and beautiful rhapsody as the background for tragic human failings Redemption is set in The Hebrides, islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, with startling cycles of maturing and downfall of the epic character, Callum Mor. He was a gifted child, master mariner and derelict drunk, who eventually gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. Redemption reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and of human nature. Its starkly gorgeous and remote island setting creates and reinforces the central themes of struggle, family, community and wonder at the beauty of the world. Redemption alludes to more than what is openly stated. Every scene provides a striking visual clarity that mystically slips into the realm of timeless storytelling. All of this provokes the tapestry for deeper, more subtle messages of compassion and faith to carefully unfold.

Book Two of the trilogy, Trailing Sky Six Feathers, is a Hero’s Journey as if Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy. Shamanic healing of childhood sexual abuse, guru training and near death experience in an Indian ashram has this author stumbling through the first part of life, then standing strong in his own sovereignty in the latter part. Past life memories collide head on with the present.

With a voice steeped in authentic experience, I navigate past and present lives over four centuries; from brutal raids on Indian settlements in 18th century Arizona, insane sea voyages off the Scottish Hebrides in the 20th century, to a decisive life moment of surrender to the Muse in the 21st century. These screenplay-worthy epic tales weave seamlessly to create inspiration for a wide range of fellow spiritual seekers. The genre is legend mixed with autobiography.

In New Planet, New World, I bring the 18th century to collide with the 21st century. Time, culture, space and consciousness are fused across centuries to create the final book of the trilogy.  New Planet, New World provides a counterpoint to the demise of modern civilization. I chart a Beginning Anew for humanity, a communal Hero’s Journey to reconstruct society based on ecology, caring and sharing, as power elites ignore their complicity in the destruction of life on Planet Earth. This adventure is not without risk or cost. The clash of centuries opens Chapter One with a lyrical and dangerous meeting on a distant planet later this century. The protagonists are from different centuries and cultures. The dark episodes and lyrical passages move the story along with action, fear, resolution, death, execution, rape, bravery and exile in a futuristic opportunity for humanity. This action packed book of intertwining plotlines arc into the epiphany of the final chapter (Thirteen), which muses about human survival anywhere. This end game is a philosophy for the future. The reader now begins to anticipate and harken to the rip tides of this futuristic novel

            This brings me back to the dream and wedding in Castlegar. If your mindfulness and discernment have done their job, they have brought you to the point of trust and surrender to the realities that have been there throughout your journey. It does require, however, surrender to the awesome power of your consciousness.

YouTube video with Jennifer Jane Clark about the dream I had that lead me to my destiny.

 

BOOKS:

http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

http://ianprattis.com/NewPlanet.html

http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html

http://www.ianprattis.com/Redemption.html

http://www.failsafebook.ca/

http://ianprattis.com/EssentialSpiral.html

http://ianprattis.com/DharmaAlive.html

http://ianprattis.com/PortalsPassages.html

 

 

 

                                                                      

 

Reflexive Voice.

I am doing a six week tutorial on Essay Writing. Had a struggle with the Reflexive Voice – but it came out OK. Here is a glimpse – ready to become a personal essay.

SACRED STALKER – REFLECTIVE VOICE

I went over in my mind this dangerous day on the sea. My reflections were savage, yielding ugly truths I had long buried. I thought of the line of whiskies on the bar, a celebration of returning from the furious sea in one piece. The truth was that there was nothing to celebrate. A rebuke was needed for my recklessness in endangering the lives of others, including my first born son. I thought of the furious sea as a piercing dirty grey, the color of dying – waiting for me. I saw clearly that I was not in the right place internally and did not belong here. I had obscured this true confession to myself with blind recklessness. The shrouds fell away and for an instant I could see just what I had allowed myself to become. I was no heroic captain at the wheel, just stupid, reckless and displaced. I had to put an end to my madness on the sea. This was not my domain in life. This beautiful island in the Hebrides was not where I was to be. The stressful drain on time and energy to travel back and forth between Canada and the Isle of Barra was debilitating. It left me with zero life-force energy for the work I was destined to touch. I was merely surviving ‘midst the suffering of being totally misplaced. So down I went into the graceless oblivion that alcohol and depression permits.

 

Happiness on Parliament Hill – July 30.

                                       

Happiness on Parliament Hill is a movement to bring greater happiness, love and community to the city of Ottawa and globally through accessible meditation and mindfulness events. Mondays during the summer.

WHERE: Parliament Hill, July 30, 12 noon – 1pm with Dr Ian Prattis, Zen Teacher.

WHY: You’re looking to infuse your day and life with a greater dose of positive vibes and happiness and be part of a community that fosters loving kindness in each of its members.

WHO: Why You of course!

My Bio – Poet, Global Traveler, Founder of Friends for Peace, and Spiritual Warrior for planetary care, peace and social justice. I studied Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Tarchin in the early 1980’s, Engaged Buddhism with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh much later, Christian meditation with the Benedictines, and was trained by First Nation medicine people and shamans in their healing practices. I also studied the Vedic tradition of Siddha Samadhi Yoga, and taught this tradition of meditation in India and was ordained as a teacher and initiator – acknowledged in India as a guru.

I presently live in Ottawa, Canada and encourage people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the planet may be renewed. I mostly stay local to help turn the tide in my home city so that good things begin to happen spontaneously.  My novel – Redemption – is being made into a movie – and my poetry, memoirs, fiction, articles, blogs and podcasts appear in a wide range of venues. The latest book is “Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement” – #1 on Amazon.ca for a while. Beneath the polished urban facade there remains a part of human nature that few acknowledge, because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth. I choose to go there in my literary work. A stone tossed into the waters of life.

In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America: Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry cultures implode. Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary aboriginal medicine people enhanced my process of remembering. Through their mentoring, I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place, consciousness, and re-write some of Carl Jung’s psychology. I chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. My books weave together seamlessly to create inspiration. Global citizens are staring into the abyss. Instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them – “Awaken spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea right now. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to transform.

My purpose in life is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become responsible stewards of the earth and society.

Description of Meditation offering

  1. Settling and stretching into the space of meditation.
  2. Then 15 minutes of chanting a Tibetan chant about wellness. In English. Accompanied by a shaman’s drum.
  3. Final 15 minutes – meditation on the breath

I will have a meditation CD and offer this at half price to anyone interested.

Facebook Author Page

https://www.facebook.com/IanPrattisAuthor/

A Steward of Gaia.

  • Jana Begovic, Author of “Poisonous Whispers”

 

Ian Prattis’ essays reflect the essence of his character. A steward of Gaia, in his opening essay “Our World Is Burning” Prattis engages in a dialogue with a nine-year old boy who is terrified of growing up in a world that will burn up. With touching gentleness, Prattis assuages the boy’s fears and paints an image of the role the boy can assume in contributing to the forces of good in the world. The essay highlights what most of us are aware of – the devastation inflicted by humans on planet Earth. Prattis shines the light on the path of mindful living by outlining a series of steps we could all adopt in our effort to reduce the negative imprint on Earth. The thread of mindfulness in the tapestry of Prattis’ essays encompasses the acts of transferring knowledge to others. In “Punk Palace” Prattis describes how giving his son the gift of mindfulness, he saves him from the clutches of drug addiction. Prattis treads a terra nova and offers a tale of a dad’s love, patience and devotion. His other essays exude profoundly inspirational messages and sound the alarm bell, but also light the torch of hope, and possible redemption of a landscape of potentially apocalyptic darkness. This book is a gift.

 

Order Book: Amazon, Indigo, Author Autograph – http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

“The Seasons” – 2018 Honourable Mention for Poetry.

The Canadian Authors 2018 National Capital Writing Contest had a gala, May 8, at the Auditorium, Ottawa Public Library – Short Story and Poetry Awards. My poem “The Seasons” was a finalist in the Poetry category. It received an Honourable Mention. The first time I had entered any of my poems. I will be sure to scribble something for 2019.

The Seasons                                                                                       Ian Prattis 

Winter’s swift warning

lay quiet and mantled on trees

formerly vibrant with autumn’s life.

The shapes of summer submerged

in grotesque beauty as bitter cold sets in

freezing fingers of ungloved hands.

In the rhythm of seasons,

the old ones in their late season

notice and nod, calmly carrying on

in their private wisdom.

Birds driven by winter’s warning

fluff their feathers and dance in the cold,

tapping on windows their insistence for the old man

to nail the feeder to the sugar maple

reserved for their winter joy by the farmhouse window.

So soon have summer’s fruits given way

to this stretch of nature’s dominion.

A long wait until man and land renews

in springtime’s burst.

Nature’s cycle, its rhythm undeterred

etches seeds of decay, silence and renewal with an unseen hand

that speaks to us

should we care to listen to that voice.

Ripple felt on all shores

Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement

  • Gayle Crosmaz-Brown, Master Drum Artisan & Spiritual Activator

Ian’s writing style keeps one motivated to keep turning the pages wanting to know more. His passion for sharing his insights and growth has no bounds, and triggers others to take action. May all who invest their time absorbing these pages find it in their own hearts to live the example being created within his prose. Ian is the stone being tossed into the waters of life. Let his ripple be felt on all shores.

Order Book: Amazon, Indigo, Author Autograph – http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

More on Mindful Engagement.

Our World is Burning presents sixteen essays which strive to teach the benefits of mindful engagement for individuals, communities, and the Earth. These essays are divided into four parts, each based on a different area which mindfulness can positively impact: global climate change, family and community, healing and transformation, and spiritual support. I show readers what mindfulness can do for them and the small ways in which readers can rewire their consumerist thoughts and become more present in the here and now.

I begin with three essays in PART ONE: CASCADE. Essay One provides the title of this collection – Our World is Burning. It is about Climate Change seen through the eyes of a terrified nine year old boy who wants to remain five so the earth does not explode into flames. His poignant discussion with me on his birthday obliterates any residue of Climate Change Denial. I spoke to him about the mindfulness community I created in 1997 – Pine Gate – and the deliberate steps taken for planetary care. We simplify, make do with less, share and adapt. Our intent is to create environmental leaders and that includes him.  The drive behind Pine Gate is to foster a strong cadre of people in Ottawa to make a difference for the betterment of society and the Earth Mother. Women are in the forefront of this endeavor. They are the heart that holds the living waters and that heart is the dynamic epicentre of the mind/will/emotions that lead to effective action. He was taking it all in, including “Girl Power” and grasped what I said to him. He came up to me as I was leaving and whispered in my ear that my chat with him was his best birthday present ever.

The next two essays are hard core. Essay Two: Rant from the Future is taken from the futuristic book New Planet, New World.  In this fictional moment in 2080 Dr. Tom Hagen’s blistering speech to an elite forum of political and corporate leaders at the United Nations changed the future of humanity. He looks back on the willful ignorance of the power elite on Planet Earth. He glares at his audience, “Did you not notice that degradation of the Earth’s ecology was the catalyst for radical Climate Change? Did you not see that food crops were destroyed by horrendous heat waves? Did you not realize that food riots and world panic trace back to one cause, the economic agenda of your energy extraction?” He continued, “Your collective agenda has destabilized world order.  Your brand is a dysfunctional global financial system lurching from one disaster to another, ignoring the welfare of populations and the ecological breakdowns caused by the consequences of your actions. May I remind you that the economy is a mere sub-set of the mother lode of ecology and you have successfully destroyed most ecosystems on Planet Earth. Your willful ignorance of dire warnings served to discredit climate change scientists and oceanographers screaming that eco-systems were disintegrating. You silenced and jailed citizens with the integrity to save the Earth. But it was never about the unanimity of science or free speech. It was about the brand of economics favored by your collective cabal of extraordinary power that extended its reach to encompass all powerful corporate ventures. You know who you are.”

Essay Three: Are We Stupid ponders on two forks in the road: either a Failsafe in Consciousness emerges or our fate becomes that of resignation to being a failed genetic experiment. The necessary clarity to deal with Climate Change will emerge, once our thoughts, values and attitudes change and no longer sustain and feed our internal pollution. This is the radical internal Climate Change necessary to engage intelligently with the external Climate Change. The overwhelming terror of Gaia crashing down on us is unbearable. The restructuring of capitalism requires that social capital and community sustainability become just as important as profits – profits for sure, but within an ethical structure that provides a new direction for globalization. New structures and mindsets are required to eliminate the control exercised by international finance capitalists. If we continue to turn our beautiful rivers into sewers because of our endless greed and neglectful ignorance, it is obvious that there is no place on Mother Earth to support our present civilization. That too will join the trash heap collectively created by mindless generations of humanity. The ancient ecologist on Mars studying a million years of earth history would note a parasitic infestation on Planet Earth that was not very intelligent. An intelligent parasite would ensure the good health of the host that supports it. And so the Martian biologist would factor in an inevitable elimination date for our species in her star-date log and may well view our civilization as a failed genetic experiment.

Briefly – PART TWO: FAMILY AND COMMUNITY provides an unusual story of parenting in the drug underworld of Glasgow, Scotland in Essay Four: Punk Palace. The upbeat essays of Community Activism and Taking Refuge in Grandchildren in Essays Four and Eight are counter points to the dreadful impact of Cyberbullying and More Dead Children in school murders in Essays Five and Seven.

In PART THREE: HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION I do not shrink from documenting personal suffering and transformation – near death experience, sexual abuse and healing. I knew there was a boundless consciousness deeply hidden under the morass created by my patterns and habits of denial.  I refer to this personal necessity in Essay Nine: Healing Journeys, Essay 10: Healing the Inner Child and Essay Twelve: Shattering of Concepts. Chapter 11: The Buddha at the Gate is a homily to park our suffering. Essay 12 – Chronicles of Awakening – places my concerns in a trilogy of books – Redemption, Trailing Sky Six Feathers and New Planet, New World. Peggy Lehmann in a testimonial to Our World is Burning states that through these three books “..readers saw glimpses of the author and his message both evolving and growing to new levels of spiritual understanding. At a time on Earth when hope is badly needed, Ian’s writings have universal appeal assuring us that a better world is possible and that each of us must contribute to its creation.”

In PART FOUR – SPIRITUAL SUPPORT – the essays lead up to the finale: “A Manifesto for the Future.” This places the issues in each essay into the sphere of action, politics and resistance. I also reveal my spiritual training from Shamanic, Vedic and Buddhist traditions, jostled together with quite a few life crises!  My intensive training enabled me to better understand the processes of transformation.  There was a lot of mud in my seasons, yet that mud provided the necessary compost to cultivate surprisingly beautiful flowers. From mentors in the desert, Essay Fourteen, to training with sages, Essay Fifteen, I then gravitate to Essay Sixteen: A Manifesto for the Future. And just why do I – do we – need all of this?  It is so we may emerge as the new leaders for the 21st century.

I was humbled by the reviews of “Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement.’ They reinforced my attempt to create an authentic tapestry about the state of the world and how we could best engage with it. I could only draw from my experience and hope that would be enough for the reader. My approach to life comes through experience, crises, difficulties and joys that may have common ground with many readers. If I can take steps along the spiritual path, surely anyone can. To the best of my ability, I endeavor to follow Gandhi’s principles of ahimsa and the teachings on mindfulness. These are the guidelines and foundations for my peace and environmental activism. I live very simply as a planetary activist. I am a Zen teacher, also a recognized guru in India. My initial task is to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. If I did not do this, then I could not write the way I do.

Order Book: Amazon, Indigo, Author Autograph – http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

US BOOK VIEWS: 5 STAR FOR “OUR WORLD IS BURNING.”

US BOOK VIEWS: 5 STAR FOR “OUR WORLD IS BURNING.”

This book exhumes a quiet power with the strength to reshape the reader’s mindset. In a time of stress, uncertainty, rampant consumerism, and divisive politics, one could easily succumb to the modern dog-eat-dog mentality. It’s easy to feel like a small, meaningless pebble in the vast sea of society, but Dr. Ian Prattis—guru, Zen teacher, former anthropology professor, and writer—believes there’s a better way to live based on mindfulness and simplicity. In his essay collection, Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement, Dr. Prattis argues that we can improve not just our lives but the world around us by becoming an island of mindfulness within human society. Our World is Burning presents sixteen essays which strive to teach the benefits of mindful engagement for individuals, communities, and the Earth.

These essays are divided into four parts, each based on a different area which mindfulness can positively impact: global climate change, family and community, healing and transformation, and spiritual support. Dr. Prattis shows readers what mindfulness can do for them and the small ways in which readers can rewire their consumerist thoughts and become more present in the here and now.

While conveying many of the same messages as other spiritual works, Our World is Burning stands out for its calm honesty. Dr. Prattis does not pull any punches, whether he’s talking about society, his loved ones, or his own life. He lays out the facts truthfully but without the angry, accusatory tone which often accompanies topics such as global climate change. Readers might feel guilty as a result of this book’s truths, but not because of the author’s tone; instead, they will feel the weight of his words, and readers will know that it is time to take action. Fortunately for those who do not like academic essays, Dr. Prattis does not rely on this method to convey his views. Also, as Dr. Prattis warns in the “Invitation,” these essays do not focus on scientific research or statistics. Rather, Dr. Prattis uses personal anecdotes, references to prophetic movies and books, and even a fictional depiction of measures which may become necessary due to global climate change. This variety allows readers to avoid any dry patches due to the monotone of typical essay writing—that is, if they are truly interested in the subject matter.

That being said, this book is not for everyone. Dr. Prattis makes claims which will rub some readers the wrong way. Namely, his remarks on the destructive nature of consumerism and society’s reluctance to adapt will strike a nerve with more conservative readers. However, those really looking for what’s missing in their lives, those who want to make a difference but don’t think they can, will find a wise guide in Dr. Prattis. He teaches readers that they might just be one person, but it only takes 2% of us meditating to bring change to the entire world. His personal anecdotes and conversations with family members will especially touch such readers, showing them that Dr. Prattis knows these methods work firsthand and is not just a “do as I say, not as I do” instructor.

For those wanting an insightful, inspirational examination of mindfulness in the modern era, look no further. This book will strike your heart and point you down a path of meditation, simplicity, and mindfulness. This new path will be difficult, but the peace and hope which Dr. Prattis promises will be worth the obstacles

Order Book: Amazon, Indigo, Author Autograph – http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

 

Finding the Poetic Voice.

During my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo, with Voluntary Service Overseas, I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds and how I was feeling. From that time on I scribbled poetry wherever I went, eventually accumulating trunks full of poems that reminded me of the experiences, particularly those later in India.  My extensive shamanic training with incredible First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged, and those notes were a sign post to always be authentic, even when it was difficult to re-read. As a professor I wrote text books and scholarly papers, which had particular protocols that were somewhat stifling. When I started late on the writing craft – I had to re-learn how to write without sounding pompous. I gave up on footnotes!

My challenging journey through life navigated shamanic healing of childhood sexual abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an ashram in India. From this vast range of experience I developed an ability to sculpt narrative in a novel way and this was expressed in my poetry and books. My life as a global traveller certainly stretched my attention beyond any limits I could have placed on it. Expansion of mind was inescapable. I certainly stumbled through the first part of life, but then stood strong in my own sovereignty in the latter part. My approach to life comes through experience, crises, difficulties and joys that may have common ground with many readers. To the best of my ability, I endeavor to follow Gandhi’s principles of ahimsa and the teachings on mindfulness. I live very simply as a planetary activist. As a Zen teacher my initial task was to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge.

My book – Redemption – was first written in 1975. I wrote it as an extended prose poem. It became a lost manuscript as I did not know how to get published at that time. When I rediscovered it forty years later I could scarcely believe my eyes. Anita Rizvi had this to say….  “Redemption is a riveting chronicle of one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation.” She goes on to say, “What is so exquisite is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition . . . When the main character’s journey takes him ever closer to the abyss, the author refuses to ‘sanitize’ his experiences.

It is important for me to remain true in telling the grittier and more difficult aspects of a poem or story, also to touch the mystical elements that led to it being transposed to written form. Yet in 1975 I was writing way over my head and lacked the maturity to understand the deep nuances emerging from my pen. The book was writing me and it is fitting that it was not published until 2014, as the time lapse allowed me to grow into the insights and revelations writ large. I was a total mess in 1975 – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep my career intact as a young professor at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. The surprise for me in 2014 was how I could have written such a powerful poetic novel while in a desperate state of mind. The themes of mental illness and alcoholism are writ large in this deep and turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation. Redemption is an allegory for the depression and life difficulties I once experienced, though I did not realize it at that time.

From the rhapsody of an idyllic childhood through traumatic tragedies to the derelict zone of alcoholism and then to a state of awakening – I depict the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to “Redemption.” The poetic voice in the book is a lyrical and moving tale of struggle, love, loss, transformation and hope. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and human nature. Its starkly gorgeous and remote island setting creates and reinforces the central themes of struggle, family, community and wonder at the beauty of the world. Its rich cast of characters offers numerous gripping interludes that brim with complex interpersonal drama. Relationships with people, land and sea skilfully brings the poetry out.

In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America: Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry cultures implode. Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary aboriginal medicine people enhanced my process of remembering the power of the poetic voice. Through their mentoring, I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place, consciousness, and re-write some of Carl Jung’s psychology. I chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. I am not good at sitting down and writing four pages a day. I wait until the spiritual energy is present within me, then I write. Sometimes this is frustrating, as I want to get on with it, but when I do not stay still and wait – I simply write garbage! So I use the in-between times to do research and edit. When the energy is sparkling, the writing flows effortlessly.  I do not consider this as a necessary template for others. It is just what works for me to connect to the Muse within.  I trust that far more than any impatience.

My books are screenplay-worthy epic tales that weave together seamlessly to create inspiration. Global citizens are staring into the abyss. Instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them – “Awaken spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea right now. That is the prod and direction of my poems and books. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to transform. All of this funnels back into my writing.

The stories I tell in my poetry and books are offered as a gift to our planet. My purpose in life is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become responsible stewards of the earth and society.

Books at http://www.ianprattis.com 

Postscript to “Our World is Burning.”

Postscript for “Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement”.

 Order book: Amazon, Indigo, Author signed: http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

 My life as a global traveller stretched my attention beyond any limits I could have placed on it. From teenage volunteering in Borneo with Britain’s Peace Corps to being a yogi in India and a Zen teacher in Canada – expansion of mind was inescapable. My challenging journey navigates shamanic healing of childhood sexual abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an ashram in India. In my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo, I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds. From that time on I kept journals and scribbled poetry. I eventually had trunks full of journals that reminded me of the experiences I went through, particularly in India.

My extensive shamanic training with First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged. As an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many story tellers across North America – Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few.  Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry, cultures implode.  Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary medicine people enhanced my process of remembering the power of the poetic voice. Through their mentoring I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. I also chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. This impact shows up in my writing.

From this vast range of experience I found an ability to sculpt narrative in a novel way and this was expressed in my poetry and books. I certainly stumbled through the first part of life, but then stood strong in my own sovereignty in the latter part. In India, Arizona, France and Canada’s wilderness, I went to great lengths to transform karma and began to live life as a Meditation for Gaia. My journal notes were a signpost to always be authentic, even when it was difficult to re-read. As a professor I wrote text books and scholarly papers, which had particular protocols that were often stifling. When I started late on the writing craft – I had to re-learn how to write without sounding pompous, to be mindful of what the reader could take in. I gave up on footnotes!

I am a Zen teacher, also a recognized guru in India. My initial task is to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. If I did not do this, then I could not write the way I do. The focus on daily mindfulness from my Zen practice enables me to be still and clear. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge. I do my best not to write from a space of frustration or of wanting to get the writing finished. I wait until the energy of mindfulness is tangible – then creating the words and text just flow.

My books are epic tales that seamlessly weave together to create inspiration for a wide range of fellow spiritual seekers, environmentalists, Generation X and Y, feminists, students and academics alike. I recognized early on that global citizens are staring into the abyss – yet instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them: “Awaken Spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. We have to take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea! That is the prod and direction of my poems and books. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of daily life to find the courage and determination to transform. My writing caps a long-term fascination with consciousness. As a Professor I taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Engaged Buddhism and Meditation Systems. I am a healer, mentor and educator, able to encourage people through example to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed. All of this funnels back into my writing.

My hope is that the reader will summon the courage to believe that they can take steps to transform internally and then make a difference externally. The stories I tell are offered as a gift for our planet. My purpose is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. We can and must transform. My Essays deliver a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. In the Sixteen Essays, I offer reality-based information that is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for my projects to become fresh, new icons for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation. Authenticity is the bottom line, which took a while to register in my career as an academic. It is essential to find one’s authentic voice and not be afraid to express it.

In Essay One my grand-nephew James requested a training program. I offered this 8-point plan.

  1. You – learn to be silent and quiet! Clear time and space for spiritual practice at home and throughout your daily schedule.
  2. Create a stress reduction menu and subtract the “weeds” in the garden of your mind.
  3. Be determined to meditate daily – do the weeding.
  4. Focus on and soften your heart – nurture the soil of your mind’s garden.
  5. Cultivate the seeds of mindfulness at home, school, and work or in solitude.
  6. Simplify, make do with less, de-clutter your mind and home.
  7. Taste the fruits of your spiritual practice.
  8. Engage with the world.

This plan for James, or something like it, is a necessary prelude for mindful engagement. Whether it is at home, in community, activism against damaging global structures – some form of reflective quiet enables citizens to connect, reach out and play a part in reconstructing our place on planet earth. To stay on the sidelines doing nothing, creates victims of us all. There is no time to lose. I remember saying to James that “The greatest gift we can give to ourselves and others at this time of global crises is sharing and caring. It involves stepping onto what the Buddhists call the Bodhisattva Path.” I explained that a Bodhisattva was a person who stayed in the global mess and did their best to awaken the minds and hearts of people. I firmly stated that it is time for the Bodhisattva-within-us to enter the 21st century as the example for action. It takes training, practice, intelligence and creative vision to find the drive to create a tangible spirit of co-operation, the willingness to share and be supportive, and learning how to cross the bridges of conflict.

This thread of understanding finds a place in every essay in Our World is Burning. However, the obstacles preventing people taking wise action are a mixture of fear, despair, disempowerment and a sense of hopelessness. The overwhelming terror of Gaia’s collapse, along with the consequences of global refugees and fascist regimes are unbearable. Our challenge is to be in society, but as a still island of mindful engagement. We do not have to be caught by pathological consumerism. Voluntary Simplicity is a good starting place, becoming aware of our consumerism. We can also participate and engage in global protests through organizations such as Avaaz. We take action and get up close and personal with the crises, reduce our ecological footprint, bring ethics into business and the workplace, support science and diversity, and warn governments and corporations.

Where do we start? Of course we must think globally and be aware of the bigger picture and step beyond the smaller pictures of ourselves created from fear and disempowerment. Yet we can also act locally with great vigour in our families and communities. Our intentions then spread as ripples from a pebble dropped in still water. In addition to holding officials, politicians and corporate culture to account let us begin with the small things that all of us can do. While at the same time alerting the political and corporate decision makers that we do mean business as voters and consumers deeply concerned about the planet and our location on it. This is very important.  Our leaders are a manifestation of our collective will. When the collective will changes, our leaders will act differently.

A massive global citizen response will certainly elicit an equally massive government and corporate response, as the bottom-up movement and top-down strategies for drastic change meet and integrate. There is not room in this Global Ecological Emergency for separating into “US’ and “THEM” categories. We are totally interconnected whether we like it or not.  We will all live together or we will all die together. An intelligent and all-encompassing green ideology embedded in everything we produce and market is a means to bridge competing agendas.

Our dependence on fossil fuels reduces because we are aware of the deadly consequences of our addiction to oil and coal. The transition to a carbon neutral global energy system over the next few decades will be costly and require a massive response from government and corporate leaders to initiate a new industrial revolution. This is necessary to blunt the impact of climate change. It is a huge global industrial project that governments and corporations can bring about due to citizen pressure to “Make It So!” Climate Change has certainly entered public consciousness. It just has to penetrate the corridors of political and corporate power. As global citizens we must find the ways and means to support the shift in consciousness at all levels of global society to make this so. Our future existence, and the existence of other species on planet earth, depends on your making a new beginning for all of us.

Glance at the sun

See the moon

And the stars

Gaze at the beauty

Of the earth’s

Greening

 

Now Think

 

Hildergard of Bingen 1098 – 1179