Transformation in India: Part II – Diary Entries Ian Prattis
Excerpt from Chapter Five: Healing and Transformation taken from my forthcoming book: Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. I want to write with an authentic, elegant voice and captivate the reader as I navigate past and present life experiences over four centuries – from brutal raids on Indian settlements in 18th century Arizona, insane sea voyages off the Scottish Hebrides in the 20th century and finally, to a decisive life moment of surrender to The Muse in the 21st century. These screenplay-worthy epic tales weave together to create inspiration for fellow spiritual seekers – I just have to be in the right place internally to do the weaving. India is an excellent transformation point.
Streaming video of poem, voice, photos: http://www.ianprattis.com/poemmovies/buddhatemplepoem.htm
DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 20, 1996
Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India
Feel weaker than ever this morning. Could hardly make it from my bed to the bathroom. Hope the saints who have passed through this little ashram are casting a protective eye over me. Perhaps they can cheer up Chotolal, the Nepali cook here, who has become quite anxious, especially as I have not had the energy or inclination to eat the special dishes he prepares. He is watching me write in my diary, so I will change hands and write with my left hand so he can laugh and feel less anxious about me. It worked! Why have I become so ill? All my bodily systems have gone off line. Is there some major purification going on in my body, is there something I do not see? What lessons are there? Or are my days drawing to a close in the silence of this ashram? My blood tests from the hospital show that I am low and deficient in just about every category and the medications only make me feel worse. So many questions and worries yet they do not seem totally important. I ask them then they fade away. It is a bit strange. A few days ago I collapsed and passed out while at dinner at Madhuma’s house. I know that she and her family would take me in, yet this saint’s refuge is where I feel most comfortable right now. The quiet and simplicity of the place speaks to me. I guess it allows me to prepare for death.
Have been in an almost constant state of meditation for weeks now. A deep quiet silence. Making entries in this diary is almost an interruption. Yesterday, Tom and Bev phoned from Tuscon in the States and it was wonderful to talk to them. They sent prayers from the desert. Another friend, Barbara, from Michigan also phoned. She tunes into me very closely and was sufficiently alarmed to offer to fly to Mumbai and take me back to the States to get well in her home. Their love and care is very moving, but I know that whatever is to happen is to be here in India. It was not easy to communicate this to Carolyn but I do believe she understands. My prayer is that she does not suffer unduly. Have sent Chotolal to buy some cards and stamps for me. The cards are beautifully hand painted on pipal leaves with pictures of the Buddha, Krishna dancing and other such scenes. Want to make sure I finish my Christmas list. Sending Christmas cards to friends and loved ones. Feel such a calm about all this that would normally surprise the heck out of me. The calm is just there, sitting with me, just fine. I know there is a distinct possibility I will not live beyond Christmas and want to send out a Christmas message from India – “Blessings and Love from Ian.” Writing the cards has exhausted me, but I feel satisfied and full – mission accomplished. Chotolal brought in a package of mail from Canada: letters and cards from family and friends, a framed photograph of Carolyn, my dearest friend and companion. Made me very happy, also made me cry as I thought of friends I may not see again. Yet they were strange tears – not full of sorrow or anything, just tears as I thought of loving friends.
I keep falling asleep very quietly then waking up very quietly. Sleep is like a light breeze that seems to visit now and then. Ate a little bit of dinner to allay Chotolal’s anxiety, but it is my supply of rice malt and vitamin C that is keeping me going. Chotolal placed some fruit and water on the table by my bed, then left to spend the next day with Nepali friends in another part of the city, taking my pile of Christmas cards to post. I am enjoying the silence and solitude, now that he has left. It is about nine o’clock in the evening and I am drifting off to sleep on gentle wings.
DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 21, 1996
Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India
Waking up was easy, getting up was a struggle but did that in stages. The quiet and silence inside the ashram is quite palpable and almost visible. I remembered my shamanic training with White Eagle Woman. Had a dream about her during the night, but do not recall all the details. I do remember that she told me to construct a mental medicine wheel around me and include all my spiritual ancestors. Did that and feel an incredible constellation of energies, like millions of guardian angels from everywhere.
A decade later, when I consulted my notes and diaries from India for this book, I realized I had overlooked something totally pivotal and crucial. There were scribbled references and notes about a female deity in the mental medicine wheel who orchestrated the energy of my spiritual ancestors. She was there at every stage of my recovery, present at every initiation and ordination. I had written it all down. I felt the hair rising on the back of my neck as I reviewed my diaries. The scribbled notes revealed the identity of the female deity as Trailing Sky Six Feathers. How could I have been so stupid to not realize that the female choreographer of my recovery was her.
Took some fruit and returned to my book of meditations and began to read slowly, stopping frequently to close my eyes and feel the words. Have no sense of time or space today, as each meditation seems to move me with its own measure and carry me along. Feel such a deepening in my heart, all the way inside my body. Aware that there is no fear or panic, just a simple and happy acceptance. That is all that is there. I have never experienced anything like this. Have no thought of anything and feel deeply content for no apparent reason. Is this surrender? Peace with God? No flashing lights, visitations or visions – only a quiet surrender and being with the inevitability of it all, whatever “THAT” is.
DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 22, 1996
Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India
I woke up this morning, heard two crows saying hello from the tree outside the window. Feel so happy to be alive. Chotolal is singing in the kitchen and rattling his pots and pans, so I will celebrate this new day with a little breakfast. That will make us both very happy. A clear insight that this “death” is a spiritual one, as is the “rebirth.” I feel completely new this morning, as though I have been rewired and plugged into sockets with a bigger voltage. Part of my preparation to continue moving along the path of understanding.
CAROLYN’S VOICE FROM OTTAWA, CANADA, December 10, 1996:
There was a strange voice mail on my telephone answering machine – didn’t recognize the voice and couldn’t make out what the person was saying. Was it Ian calling from India? If so, it was a really bad connection.
December 12, 1996:
Ian called. He had left the message, but it wasn’t a bad connection. He is so sick that he can hardly talk and his voice is unrecognizable. A cold chill ran down my spine. He says he’s had surgery and that his systems are all crashing, one by one. But he’s not afraid – I believe he is not afraid of dying if that is what’s happening. What can I do? My first instinct is to go to India, to be with him, to care for him, but no, he says this is a journey he must go through alone. I am so worried. All I can do is surround him with light and love. And I pray – I pray that God will care for him, make him well and keep him safe. Dad is in the hospital dying from heart disease – two open-heart surgeries in the last month. The doctors are amazed that he is still living. I wonder if he is afraid to die. I’m being forced to look at death, my fears, my attachments. I cry. Dad has been ill for many years and I know he will not likely survive this ordeal, but Ian. Ian is too young. His life work is not done. He still has so much to offer.
Ian speaks about the possibility of death with such calm. He’s not afraid, but I am. I don’t want to lose him. I am not prepared to let him go. Over the phone from India Ian teaches me about no birth and no death, that we continue living in all that we touch – simply a different manifestation than our physical bodies. But this is too difficult for me to accept at the moment. I am attached. I do not want to let him go. Ian directs me to the teachings on impermanence, and encourages me to meditate on the Five Remembrances – being of the nature to grow old, the nature to become ill, the nature to die, the nature for all things to change and knowing that we will be separated from those we hold dear and that our only true possessions are the consequences of our actions.
Christmas Day, 1996:
Ian called. He sounds a little better but is still very weak. I shed tears of relief. I continue to surround Ian with light and love. And I pray. I pray that God will give him the strength and will to overcome his illness. Hope is fading for my Dad. He’s in intensive care and only Mom is allowed to visit him for a few minutes at a time. None of his children are permitted to see him. I pray that he does not suffer for too long. I pray that he can find the same kind of peace and calm that Ian has found. I am terrified that he might be afraid to die. But I don’t know his thoughts or feelings and my family won’t talk about death. I am caught in a paradigm – praying for my Dad to let go, to end his suffering – but afraid for my dad that he might be dying in fear. That bothers me so much. At the same time I pray for Ian to survive, but my fear is for myself at the thought of Ian passing away and leaving me. He seems so prepared and accepting of death. Here I am, afraid for my father at the thought of him passing away, yet afraid for myself at the thought of Ian passing away.
After ten long months in the Heart Institute my Dad passed away. I’ve come to realize that he was not afraid. He hung on for so long to allow my Mom and my siblings the time to accept his death, time to let him go. I am so grateful that he wasn’t afraid to die. At the same time Ian returned from India and I am grateful to have him back home – alive and well. His experiences in India have totally transformed him. His near death experience also transformed me, for he guided me to look deeply into the realm of birth and death, to accept death, to let go and to see the continuation of loved ones in all aspects of life, from a flower blooming to a family member smiling. I do see my Dad every day in different manifestations of life.