Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Three Advisors for Vesak

The 2014 Vesak Festival to be held in Ottawa City Hall on Sunday May 4, 2014 had the good fortune to receive guidance from three spiritual advisors – Master Bon Dat, Bhante Rath Sam and Dharmacharya Ian Prattis. They each come from different Buddhist traditions in Ottawa and three different countries – Vietnam, Cambodia, Canada. They established a common cause to spread the seeds of Buddha Mind across Ottawa for the Vesak Festival in City Hall on May 4, by creating an atmosphere of generosity, humility and kindness. The planning of the program, participants and networking all went very smoothly. Organization meetings were held in the various temples and mindfulness centres in the city.

Ian Prattis  Director of Programing of Vesak In Ottawa talking about the goals and plans2 (2)

Support for these efforts of multi-culturalism and interbeing came from all levels of government in Canada. The Governor General, Prime Minister, Premier of Ontario and Mayor of Ottawa fully endorsed this initiative, which is new to Ottawa and indeed new to Canada. Other Buddhist communities in the City of Ottawa also came out in support. The three advisors ushered in a consensus that donations taken in on Vesak Day would support the education of young boys and girls in Cambodia. Education was seen as a vital antidote to the trafficking of children in that country. It was recognized by the three advisors that future events would focus on different causes.
The manner of patience, goodwill and sage counsel from the three advisors provided the glue of integration for an exciting adventure to unfold in Ottawa for the Celebrating Vesak Day.

Vesak Invitation May 4 20141 (2)

Co-ordinating Vesak Day in Ottawa, May 4, 2014

At Pine Gate Mindfulness Community we are co-ordinating Buddhist communities in Ottawa-from Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Taiwan-to celebrate Vesak on May 4, 2014, in Ottawa City Hall 1.00pm – 4.30pm. Friends in the Ottawa region may wish to mark this date in their calendar. The website for the event is at:
This is a new venture for Ottawa and represents a willingness to cross traditional boundaries and to recognize the quality of inter-connection. Not just with different Buddhist communities but with non-Buddhist citizens in the city. The program includes cultural performances, a Vesak Proclamation from the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, and an inspirational talk to show the relevance of Buddhism to 21st century realities. I will give a talk about Cyberbullying and Teenage Suicide. Cyberbullying is a new phenomenon for our times, scarcely twenty years old. It coincided with the ramification of cell phones, chat rooms, ipads and the internet. This created an ecosystem of interruption technologies that many teens have become addicted to. In less than a generation the world has been fundamentally changed and we have yet to catch up with its consequences. Governments, school boards, parents and councillors are scrambling to deal with it. Parenting skills and legal restraints have to adapt radically in order to protect our young children.

Vesak Invitation May 4 20141 (2)

The practices that can calm troubled teenage minds are derived from the teachings of the Buddha. They are tried, tested and true, totally relevant to 21st century realities of cyberbullying. In modern day Canada it is intelligent to refer to them as Mindfulness Practices, which complement the efforts of all levels of government, from City Hall to the Federal Government. There are many school boards with apps for anti-cyberbullying, dedicated educators and concerned parents offering their skills to deal with the spectre of cyberbullying.

Vesak Invitation May 4 2014 Program (2)

Here are some insights about Vesak Day prepared by Lisa Karuna from Pine Gate.
Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who lived and taught in India ca. 2,600 years ago. There are an estimated 550 million people in the world who identify Buddhism as their religion or way of life. While most live in Asia, Buddhism is recognized as the fastest growing religion in Western societies.
Vesākha Day is the day Buddhists remember the birth, the enlightenment, and the passing away of the Buddha. The lunar calendar is central to Buddhist tradition and it is believed that these events each took place during the full moon of vesākha (Pali) or vaiśākha (Sanskrit), which is simply the ancient name of April–May of the lunar calendar.
The United Nations marks Vesākha Day as an official holiday, worldwide. Local communities will choose a date together, as close to the full moon as possible, often on a weekend, allowing the community to be fully present.
As Buddhism spread from India, it was adapted to many cultures, and consequently Vesākha Day is celebrated in many different ways in various countries, such as China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan, Thailand, and Nepal, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama.

Some will visit their local temple before dawn, to raise the official Buddhist flag, which represents a rainbow. Some may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and incense, which serve as a reminder that just as the beautiful flowers will wither, and the candles burn out, so too is life subject to impermanence. In some countries, birds and animals are released in a symbolic act of liberation.
Generally, on Vesākha Day, Buddhist practitioners are encouraged to reiterate their determination to lead noble lives, to practice loving-kindness and to bring peace of mind to themselves and peace to the world. This is done by “going for refuge” in the Buddha (the human being, who through right effort, is able to free him/herself), the Dharma (the teachings the Buddha left for us), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community of monastics and lay practitioners, which has continued, unbroken, for 2,600 years).
On this day, we renew our commitment to the precepts, which help us to live a moral life that contributes to our well-being and the well-being of others, which includes giving our time and resources to those in need.

In the West, the coming together of various cultures fosters ecumenism, which is one characteristic of the new Buddhism taking root here. Vesākha Day is therefore a time when we reach out across the various Buddhist traditions to celebrate, and to non-Buddhists to enjoy dialogue and harmony.

Advisors of Vesak in Ottawa 2014 - from left - Venerable Master Bon Dat -  Dharmacharyaia Ian Prattis - Bhante Sam Rath Viriyad (2)

Photo of Advisors for the event, from Left to Right Venerable Master Bon Dat, Dharmacharya Ian Prattis, Bhante Sam Rath Viriyad

Four Poems

Four Poems
Short Bio of Ian Prattis
Zen Teacher, Author, Editor, Professor Emeritus. Spiritual Warrior for planetary care, peace and social justice. Ian lives in Ottawa, Canada and offers public talks and retreats around the world. Ian encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the world may be renewed. Founder of Friends for Peace:

Ancient Tree in Winter

Ancient Tree in Winter,
where did you come from?
Now trapped,
cleft by rocks at river’s edge.

Water eddies carve your shape.
Ice mires your branches,
snow creeps fingers across the river
as your body disappears with warm days.
Decaying sculpture of existence.

No death here, no birth,
Just your splendid continuation.
A stand for ducks preening feathers,
No less.

Did you once stand tall
in a soft Quebec valley,
host to birds, small animals,
insects and whispering breeze?
Were you alone on a high bluff
shading thundering rapids
that pulled you to their embrace?

What felled you,
so that you now lie here
Cleft by rocks
exquisite beauty of my river walk.

River Walk

Lament For A Mariner

The sea is very thin this day
that Archie Ruag has gone.
Master mariner, graceful navigator,
wise teacher of ocean mystery.
No more to grace the ocean’s ships
returned to whence he came.

My sons at eleven years and ten
children in men’s mourning
saw him laid to rest
in my place.
Storms and hail swept the cemetery
and their small frames
grew in maturing
of Archie’s dying.

And I sit here in Canada
writing, grieving,
Knowing the sea is very thin this day
that Archie Ruag has gone.
I saw him last, pale and weary
with calm before his death.
His spirit surrounded by antiseptic ward,
but not beleaguered.

He knows I was not equal
to his dying.
So he spoke gently to me
of ships
and men at sea.
And moorings
safe to guard our boats
from winter’s cruelty.
And so, in this way
did he gently rebuke
my lack of courage
in his dying.
So that I may have strength
in my own time
of death.

This is known
to senses awry with grief’s knife.
The tears of my cheeks
on a rainswept street
a meditation
on the knowing of him.

Yet I miss him.
An anchor gone from my seasons
of the sea.

The sea is very thin this day
That Archie Ruag has gone.

Vietnam War Memorial

Gaunt with grief:
Stilled, Silenced:
Cold December day:
Grey and bleak.

I could not move:
Frozen in Time:
Damn it all!

It was not my war
don’t you know?
They were not my people
don’t you see?
Do I protest too much?

Name engraved black marble slabs
rising from the earth
sear into my soul.
Burning deep to feel the pain,
of so many deaths, such futility.
Ball of fire flames my chest,
chills the marrow of my bones.

Subterranean edifice hurts me awake,
transforms deep memories
for my own kind.
Fellow Humans.

All peoples
caught in the sinister web
of dark and deadly shadows
that lurk in all of us:
Hate, Greed and Power.

I circle the profanity of war,
nerve center of our world.
Grimly aware thought:
Our world must be transformed:
Our world must be changed:

And we must do it.
Transforming ourselves
then others in swift urgency.
Else the memoirs
of our civilization
are no more than
Monuments To The Dead.

Our Dead:


Let me share it –

This symphony of autumn color,
cascading melody from a sky
pastel grey and fiery red.
Descant to the dancing tones of
a painted forest
cooled by lush evergreens.
Sensual beauty,
rhapsody of forest and sunset sky
fused as a golden sheen.
Caught in a still lake
waiting with patience
Beyond time and space,
to reflect this moment of
splendor –


Let me share it.

Autumn Sunset