All posts by iprattis

About iprattis

Author, Professor Emeritus, Ambassador for Peace. Spiritual Warrior for planetary care, peace and social justice. Zen teacher, poet, scholar, guru in India.. 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: www.friendsforpeace.ca Ian - a poet and scholar, peace and environmental activist – was born on October 16, 1942, in Great Britain, Ian grew up in Corby, a tough steel town populated by Scots in the heartland of England’s countryside. Cultural interface was an early and continuing influence. Ian was an outstanding athlete and scholar at school, graduating with distinctions in all subjects and was dux of the high school – top graduating student. He did not stay to collect graduating honours, as at seventeen years old he travelled to Sarawak, Borneo, with Voluntary Service Overseas (1960–1962) - Britain’s Peace Corps. He loved the immersion in the myriad cultures of Sarawak and was greatly amused by the British colonial mentality, which he did not share. He worked in a variety of youth programs as a community development officer, and also explored the headwaters of Sarawak’s major rivers, with expeditions into Indonesian Borneo. He was acutely embarrassed to be written up in the home press as “Boy Explorer Discovers Central Borneo!” He knew he had not discovered anything, that Kayan tribesmen had kept him safe. He had an acute sensitivity and respect for other cultures and traditions, and knew he was privileged to be with skilled guides and trackers. He was adopted by the Kayan tribe as one of their own in Northern Sarawak and part of the initiation was the right to have an extensive tattoo on his left forearm, commemorating his journeys. Ian politely declined this honour, stating that it was not his custom. As a teen, he had a clear idea of who he was, though that clarity was frequently challenged and occasionally lost later in life. Returning to Great Britain after Sarawak was an uneasy transition. He did, however, manage to stumble through an undergraduate degree in anthropology at University College London (1962–1965), before continuing with graduate studies at Balliol College, Oxford (1965–1967). At Oxford, academics took a back seat to the judo dojo (where he earned a University Blue), rugby field, bridge table and the founding of irreverent societies at Balliol. Yet by the time he pursued doctoral studies at the University of British Columbia (1967–1970), his brain switched on. He renewed his passion for other cultures, placing his research on North West Coast cultures within a mathematical, experimental domain that the discipline of anthropology was not ready for. Being at the edge of new endeavours was natural to him, and continues to be so. He was a Professor of Anthropology and Religion at Carleton University in Ottawa from 1970 to 2007. Fieldwork amongst North West Coast American aboriginal populations and North Atlantic fishing communities was an early focus. Over the past thirty years an interest in native land claims has lead to ongoing fieldwork in Indian and Inuit communities, with an emphasis on training native leaders to conduct their own research process. He has worked with diverse groups all over the world and has a passion for doing anthropology. “It’s better than having a real job,” he says “everything changes, and the only limits are your imagination and self discipline.” His career trajectory has curved through mathematical models, development studies, hermeneutics, poetics and symbolic anthropology, to new science and consciousness studies. The intent was always to expand, and then cross, existing boundaries, to renew the freshness of the anthropological endeavor and make the discipline relevant to the individuals and cultures it touches. His highly acclaimed television course on “Culture and Symbols” drew on his novel perspectives, and Ian is exploring the possibilities of delivering the twelve videotapes of the course through an Internet homepage - a prototype for the Electronic University of the Future — no boundaries. His millennium project for the year 2000 created another twelve part television course on “Ecology and Culture.” This educational enterprise produces a cadre of environmental activists each year. In their final assignment, students are asked to select an ecological issue, then write a thousand word letter to a head of government, or CEO of a polluting industry, or to a Director of an environmental NGO. After careful research on the organization and ecological issue, students state specifically what they want the recipient of the letter to do. Students, by and large, send these letters and begin to translate their awareness about ecosystems and globalization into action – as does their teacher. The up and coming hard rock/blues band – SLYDE – has a keyboardist who was a student. SLYDE released a CD in 2011 titled Feed The Machine. It was inspired by the class text: The Essential Spiral: Ecology and Consciousness After 9/11. Who knows what they will do with the later books! He studied Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Tarchin in the early 1980’s, Christian meditation with the Benedictines, and was trained by Native American medicine people and shamans in their healing practices. He also studied the Vedic tradition of Siddha Samadhi Yoga, and taught this tradition of mediation in India (1996–1997). He was ordained as a teacher and initiator – the first Westerner to receive this privilege – and is recognized in India as a guru – Prem Chaitania. Since meeting Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master – he found a way to take his experiences much deeper within himself. He received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh and is an ordained Dharmacharya (teacher) in that tradition, giving dharma talks and retreats around the world. He has trained with Masters in Buddhist, Vedic and Shamanic traditions. He encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the world may be renewed. He has taught children’s meditation courses as well as adult and advanced retreats from coast to coast in Canada. He travels widely on this beautiful planet and gives talks and retreats in Canada, India, Europe, the USA and South America. The basic commitment he holds is to make the world a beautiful place by encouraging people to embrace their true nature. His teaching focuses on the spiritual issues of the day and honors all traditions At the outbreak of the Iraq war he founded Friends for Peace Canada www.friendsforpeace.ca - a coalition of meditation, peace, activist and environmental groups to work for peace, planetary care and social justice. He is also the editor of an online Buddhist Journal and the resident Zen teacher of a meditation community, Pine Gate Sangha. www.ianprattis.com/pinegate.htm He received the 2011 Ottawa Earth Day Environment Award on behalf of Pine Gate Sangha. He writes poetry and had an edited collection published in 1985 – “Reflections: The Anthropological Muse.” The meditation teacher is not separate from the professor or the global citizen. He has six children and fourteen grandchildren from his first marriage. Later in life, as a respite, he lived in a hermitage in Kingsmere, Quebec, in the middle of Gatineau Park forest when his pet wolf was alive. Some day a retreat centre will flourish midst the lakes and hills of this incredibly beautiful area. His interests include cross-country skiing, hiking, canoeing and caring for the world of nature. He also enjoys Qi-Gong, gardening, playing baseball and swimming with dolphins. Ian now lives with his present wife Carolyn in the west end of Ottawa where the Pine Gate Meditation Hall is located in the lower level of their home. Since retiring from the university in 2007 he has authored four books on dharma, two on the environment, a novel and a legend/autobiographical combo and enjoys the freedom to create at his own pace. He has yet to discern the ordinary meaning of retirement!

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

Agua Viva

Agua Viva                                                                                                      

 

When I finished writing “Our World is Burning” and got it published in October 2017, I decided to step back and study the writing craft more deeply – particularly short stories. But first of all there was the task of clearing out my file cabinet, which was a total mess. During the demolition, I came across a yellowing folder that contained 40 years of my poetry. Much of it was garbage, but there were sufficient gems to fashion a book of poetry. That instantly became the new project. I had enough material for six distinct poetic memes that played out significant parts of my own life. This required an autobiographic introduction for each of the six sections. The collection is much like an exquisite cheese – it has to be left to mature. At least until Spring 2019!

Here is the introduction to PART ONE: AGUA VIVA.

The poems in Agua Viva – Water of Life – were written over a forty year time period (1978 – 2018). They provide a text for my clumsy emergence into new understandings. I first journeyed to Mexico in March 1978 to a Dominican Monastery – Agua Viva – sixty kilometres southeast of Mexico City. With a number of friends this adventure was to experience a heightened transformation of the path of awareness few of us knew we were travelling. A return visit to the same monastery was made two years later. In 1988 the same core of friends returned to Mexico and made a destination to the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan. The Agua Viva poems were scribbled down hastily and refined with later insight.

There was a return to Mexico thirty years later in November of 2017 – again to the Yucatan. In particular, the Mayan walled city of Tulum. It was located upon a shoreline cliff facing the Caribbean Sea. The ocean provided a stunning turquoise color as the backdrop for jungle, sea and the mystique of Mayan civilization. Previously in 1988, I had sat for hours at the top of the Tulum Castillo looking out at the Caribbean Sea. I was mesmerized by the sublime Mayan architecture and the overwhelming pulse of an angry sea crashing, swell after swell, into the cliffs it rested on. I did not write a poem at the Castillo at that time, too astonished to put pen to paper or even take a photograph. Yet the feelings of that day, thirty years ago, seared into my mind as I anticipated a meeting with a timeless collision of civilization, memory and human nature.

The early poems (1978 – 1988) delivered an uncertain direction as my friends and I threw ourselves to find out what we could not fathom. Trying to identify purpose without too much success and leaning on an awkward posturing. I waited a long time to cap this early scribbling with a candid view of the Mayan city of Tulum – thirty years later. A wake up call from reality arose. The “Agua Viva” poems are dedicated to all of us who seek, strive and then occasionally relax into maturity.

Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Review.

Our World Is Burning

My Views on Mindful Engagement by Ian Prattis

Genre – Environment; Kindle Edition; Reviewed on 02/17/2018;

BOOK REVIEW

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

Our World Is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement by Ian Prattis is a slim but very powerful and relevant book that should be in the hands of most contemporary readers, a book that looks at how we can change the way we relate to nature and to our environment, and discover what it takes to stop hurting the world we should be building and protecting. This book is comprised of a selection of well-written, beautifully articulated essays on mindfulness as a path to creating work that matters and healing the wounds of the world to leave a future that is filled with hope.

Ian Prattis writes with brutal honesty and his words flow with grace and power, aspects of writing that seem to derive from his confidence in handling this subject. This book is for anyone who wants to create a positive impact and who wants to initiate the change that the world badly needs. The writing is excellent and there are moments that the reader is swept away by the evocative nature of the prose. It takes a lot of skill to make complex and difficult subjects simple and easy, and the author has it.

The message of this book hits the reader right in their heart. And at a time when a lot of talk is happening about the future of the world, about what to do to combat global warming, about the economic and political challenges, this book offers answers that will surprise readers and lead them to rediscover their roles in the shaping of a better world. Our World Is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement is a gift of love, a book that will change the way most of us look at ourselves and the world around us. A must-read!

 

You can order “Our World Is Burning” ($19.95) and receive one FREE autographed copy of New Planet New World; or Redemption; or Trailing Sky Six Feathers; or Failsafe; plus Meditation CD as a thank you. Indicate which item you would like, though it depends on inventory what can be sent. http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html 

2018 Newsletter

2018 Newsletter is about our fragile future.
Our World is Burning – mindful engagement can transform our embattled world.
New Planet New World – epic wisdom teaching. A new way of living – ecology, respect and compassion in the rip tide of a dystopian novel. Click here for the Newsletter –

https://mailchi.mp/c5d58d24c774/my-new-book-our-world-is-burning-has-been-published

MORE DEAD CHILDREN.

In the light of beautiful young people gunned down in 2018 I offer this essay from my new book – “Our World Is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement.”

http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

 More Dead Children

 The specter of children shooting children in high schools shocked North America, yet very little institutional change has been effected, once the platitudes of politicians receded. This essay examines the consumption of violence by our children through the media, video games, and internet. It can lead to the deadly carnage of high school shoot-outs and murder, particularly when mental illness is considered. Young people, their parents, and society at large are unaware of the necessity of guarding their sensory doorways and mental health.  I illuminate the very dangerous environment we have created, and offer practical measures of mindful engagement as a way out. Young people need simple tools to deal with their hate, anger and distress so they do not resort to guns.

The shock waves and horror of the 1999 high school shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut swept across North America and touched every community. Since then, massacres in schools and universities have become more common. As these shock waves receded, the greatest danger is that the public may distance itself from taking responsibility for the toxic environment it has created. High school students across North America, however, have not forgotten. On the anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School, many students across America refuse to go to school for fear of a repeat shooting spree. Their fear is that “IT” could happen in their school.

Personally, the specter of children shooting children in high schools shocked me deeply. I was offended by the carnage and angry at society for creating the causes and conditions for children to end up murdering other children. I also had meditation students who had settled in Colorado, and they phoned me in a panic. I knew I could be of little help to them, for I was not in the appropriate space to give counsel to anyone. I, first of all, had to find the bedrock of understanding and compassion within myself before I could communicate anything worthwhile to others. To come from anger and shock was not something I was prepared, or trained, to do. I requested that my friends focus on Walking Meditation, to calm themselves and others around them. I would get back to them once I had taken care of my own anger and distress.

After three days of silence and meditation I wrote this essay. I looked into the causes of the shootings, and saw that with the passage of time people would become removed from any sense of personal responsibility. There is the ready availability of guns and drugs that naturally collude with the problem of untreated mental illness. When individuals are raised without influence from parents, teachers and community leaders, the consumption of violence can become a large influence in their lives. It is readily available through the media, video games and the internet, influencing those involved in shoot-outs. Many of our children have become exiles, their voices unheard, and we have largely forgotten how to listen to them. Some find a place in cyberspace where violence, hatred and killing are readily available without any sense of consequence or responsibility. In the absence of clear ethical guidelines from parents and society, young people are creating their own identity from the very worst that media has to offer. This identity can be built through a drive to achieve instant fame through acts of notoriety.

Children who have built positive core values through the influence of parents, teachers and community leaders have an internal strength to resist this seduction. But children who have fallen through the cracks are without support and guidance. They live out their sense of exile through the cruel fantasies available to them and become desensitized to the consequences of violent acts.

I write about dead children and not just the twenty killed in an elementary school in Connecticut and elsewhere in North America, but for children killed as collateral damage in world-wide violence. We are all grieving parents to the world. The question is: What Now? In the face of grief we must feel it deeply, be hurt by it, taking time to feel the pain of the tragedy. Then come through, determined to make a difference. This requires calling in the support of wise friends, counselors and community so we can begin to see clearly and find ourselves. Stillness is needed, not social media distraction and drama, for we need a new direction from leadership. To reassess the 21st century, we must look deeply at the factors involved in the shootings.

In the United States there is a complex, intertwined tapestry with the easy availability of guns and drugs. This is compounded by societal tolerance of violent media, plus the very serious common denominator shared by the killers stretching back to the Columbine massacre. The self-delusion and mental health issues in predominantly pre-adult white males. They are caught in an identity trap that they escape from through violence and murder. Through killing, they gain five minutes of fame that enables them to be remembered. They occupy a toxic landscape of “not love”, “not connected.” And this is what requires the attention of our health system and mindfulness.  How do we begin?

It is time for the Bodhisattva to enter the 21st century as a paradigm and archetype for individual and collective action. This enables us to transform ourselves and our civilization. We nurture this paradigm by cultivating two aspects that lie dormant within us. The first aspect is interconnectedness, knowing that we connect with everything, the earth, oceans, forests and mountains, all species and most of all – with all people. Fostering interconnectedness creates harmony and unity and destroys the ego. The second aspect is non-discrimination, which carries the energy of compassion, and this combination threatens selfishness. Taken together, these buried aspects manifest from within us, opening pathways and bridges to build a better world.

How do we do this? We cultivate the energies of transformation: mindfulness, concentration and insight. At every opportunity we bring interconnectedness and non-discrimination to the forefront of our daily lives. In this way we shape the future of the 21st century as we begin to live differently. We should not be intimidated by present crises. We are certainly shocked and hurt by such circumstances but are much stronger than we think. Enter the Bodhisattva is the guiding paradigm for our lives. I allude to Bruce Lee’s classic, Enter the Dragon, which brings the fierceness of the warrior to the fore and the determination of a saint to overcome tragedy and set a new course. It takes practice, skillfulness and creative vision. Are we equal to the task?

 

Most young people, their parents and society as a whole, are unaware of the need to guard their sensory doorways, or eliminate their engagement with violence. One can easily see that violence in the external environment must be controlled. As an alternative, steps must be taken in schools and communities to deal with frustration, mental health issues and hatred without resort to guns. Our senses can be bombarded by so much damaging material. The violence that pours in feeds the consciousness that drives us. If we load our mind with toxins and violence we should not be surprised by what occupies the driving seat.

My body and mind are not individual entities that I can do anything I like with, such as filling them with drugs, alcohol, hateful attitudes, harmful identities, unhealthy foods, cravings or violence. My body and mind exist to provide for future generations therefore I must be aware of what I put into them. We also must exercise care and responsibility over what we allow into the minds and bodies of our children. This care and responsibility prevents young people turning their consumption of violence into violent acts on themselves in the form of suicide. We must say “no” to our children consuming violence through movies, video games and hate concerts. At the same time we refuse to engage in violent and toxic interactions with them. We must take steps to fill the ethical void and give our children the benefits of our full presence and learn to listen deeply to them.

But when was the last time anybody really listened to you? And when was the last time that you really listened to your children? Our listening is usually filled with judgements, and young people are deeply hurt by this. To listen requires that we find a way to leave our judgements behind, to be present. We may understand our children if we listen compassionately. When we are fully present, our energy can transform them and heal their deep hurts, erasing neglect. We learn about full presence through meditation. The teenagers who murdered their classmates at Columbine High School had no-one to listen to or be present with them. Nobody helped them or took care of the violence that flooded their consciousness.

The Rev. Dale Lang, who lost his son Jason in the high school shooting in Taber, Alberta, provided a wonderful example of leadership and forgiveness for his community, in the midst of his own personal grief.  He asked that his son’s death not be in vain, and that the community forgive the boy who killed him, that they practice compassion. From the families of children killed at Columbine and in Newton, there is the same plea. Let their deaths not be in vain. We can respond by recognizing that we are either part of the problem or part of the solution and must examine how we support and condone the culture of systemic violence. If time passes and nothing changes, if we sit on the fence and say “this is not my responsibility” then we are part of the problem. There are many parents, teachers and community leaders who are endeavoring to make a difference to the existing state of affairs in their homes, schools and communities, but their efforts may be too slow for our children.

The high school murders are not a teenage problem. They are a societal problem of systemic violence penetrating to the consciousness of young people through their sensory doorways. Thus a societal solution is necessary. One that deals with anger, frustration, mental health and hatred. It must also provide an alternative paradigm that impacts the internal environment of violence and transforms it. One reason there are disturbed young people is a lack of positive models. Neither group had adjusted in order to protect themselves from toxins and violence in the media. If we do not guard our sensory doorways, there will be negative effects.

After the platitudes of politicians and the media were delivered following the high school and university murders, not much has changed in terms of institutional structures or constraints on the production of violence in the media, video games and movies. Providing young people with mindfulness tools to take care of the energies produced by hatred and violence I suggest mindful engagement, the subtitle of this collection of essays.

There are parents and teachers everywhere who are desperate for a change of direction, recognizing the enormous crisis. The Chinese letter for crisis has two characters, the first is danger, the second is opportunity. We need to recognize the danger of violence combined with mental illness and seize the opportunity of mindful engagement to deal with it. In the space created by meditation, the toxic and violent consumption of every day life has no doorways to pass through.  It is not a total solution but it is a start.

To young people I recommend simple tools of handling anger, hatred, distress and mental illness. There are techniques of meditation that allow the person doing them to recognize their negative emotions and deal with it.  I tend to think that the most useful technique is walking meditation, simply because it is hard to sit and meditate when you feel angry or violent (further discussed in essay six).  We can literally walk ourselves out of crisis by taking care of the distress and releasing the energy of it into the ground. Recognize the danger of anger and hatred and seize the opportunity of walking meditation to deal with it.

I invite meditation teachers to take their skills into schools and community centers. Providing these methods can make an impact on the anger and hatred that affects our children. I invite young people to bring such teachers into their midst and see what they can teach. Remember that we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. As citizens we all have the capacity and the responsibility to change things for the better: at home, at work and in our public life. We have to take a stand not to condone violence. It is our actions, from a space of clarity that provides solutions. Our indifference to the dangerous environment we have created means that we perpetuate the problem. I ask everyone to choose wisely, and immediately.

This message was been sent far and wide, thanks to internet technology, and to good people everywhere who passed it on through their own networks.  It was used in many communities, particularly Colorado. In my own city, Ottawa, I gave workshops and retreats for students about violence in schools and mindful engagement and continue to do so.

 

Through Nine Year Old Eyes.

My grand-nephew James was celebrating his birthday, yet felt awful about being nine. He wished he could stay five years old forever. When I asked him “Why?” he replied that if he could stay five then the Earth would not explode. His lips quivered and the tears welled up in his large brown eyes.

“I am scared it is too late. That there will be nothing to save,” he exclaimed with a frightened voice. He dropped the unopened gift in his hand. He was so upset and I gently guided him to sit with me on the back garden steps where it was quiet.

James said, “I don’t want to grow up and live in a world that is burning.”

Silence stretched between us. I wondered what to say. I could not say that everything will be OK. He was much too intelligent for such placebos. So I spoke to him about the mindfulness community I created 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. “Why not become a leader for your generation?” I asked him. He thought about that and asked what else did the community do?

            I pointed out that we encourage voluntary simplicity and community ethics as a way of life. We start with the Earth. Our organic garden produces an abundance of vegetables, apples and flowers that are shared with neighbors and community members. I mentioned that it is a solace for me to spend time with the Earth, observing bumblebees and butterflies while gardening with assistance from neighborhood children. I told James that the kids once laughed hilariously when they saw that the vegetable plant I had carefully nurtured for months turned out to be a giant weed and not a tomato plant. At the back of the garden is a beautiful fountain that murmurs next to the flowers, which are sent to the elderly folk living on our crescent. A solar panel on the roof fuels the hot water system of our home. Everything else is as eco-friendly as we can make it for our fifty year old bungalow with a meditation hall in the basement. This eco-effort has become quite an example for other friends as they consider how much we are saving and implement something similar. In addition our focus is on mindfulness in schools and city environment, teens at risk and the empowerment of women. I admitted to James that I am amazed by the results. At the local level there were great women who helped make things happen.

“You mean girl power?” asked James incredulously.

“Exactly that,” I replied “I believe that the present millennium  is the century of daughters, not so much as gender separation, but as attributes of a holistic, nurturing presence of mind.” (I must add that the wonderful Women’s Marches all over the world in January 2018 turn this belief into a reality.) I told him that the idea is to foster a strong group of people in Ottawa making a difference for the betterment of society and the earth. Women are in the forefront of this endeavor. I explained that they are the heart that holds the living waters, the dynamic epicentre that leads to effective action. That is how we will get things done, creating a different course of action and living. James was taking it all in, instinctively knowing that major changes were needed. I suggested that when enough of us change, then our ideas will be in charge. I told him about a speech I had given about the consequences of pathological consumption and pointed out that festive occasions like Christmas provide opportunities for the best and the worst within us to come out and play. And that unfortunately compassion and kindness are quickly swamped by greed, selfishness and consumer madness. We need to re-assess, to move on from being self-absorbed, greedy and distracted.

“How?” he asked again, as he really wanted to know. I chose my words carefully.

“Locate in something bigger than ourselves; a humanitarian cause, respecting the earth, making our thinking better, being kinder and more generous. How about examining our habits about gift giving and learn to give gifts that make a difference?  I no longer buy Christmas gifts, instead present gift certificates that provide items like education for a girl in Afghanistan, micro-loans for female led families, rebuilding forests in Haiti, literacy packages and mosquito nets where needed, support for Habitat for Humanity building houses for the destitute and so on. Such gifts are bigger than us and create happiness for less fortunate people.”

I told James how my grandchildren proudly take their Christmas certificates to school for Show-and-Tell periods. They play it forward with their class mates and teachers. One boy on the crescent where I live has received such gifts from me for several years. For his recent birthday he asked his friends not to give presents, but to bring a donation for the Ottawa Humane Society that looks after hurt animals. All of his friends brought donations, a splendid sum of two hundred and eighty dollars. They all went together to the Humane Society and happily handed their bag of cash to the surprised staff. Other children in the neighborhood have followed suit.

This resonated with James and he said, “I can do that with my ice hockey team. My dad is the coach and he would help.” He waited for me to continue.

“James, the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and others at this time of global ecological crises is sharing and caring. It involves stepping onto what the Buddhists call the Bodhisattva Path.” (James knows that I am a Zen teacher). 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.

“You mean like Jedi training?” he enquired. I nodded with a smile and referred briefly to my years of training in ashrams and monasteries in India and France and with indigenous medicine people. I confided that the real kicker for me was the time spent alone in the Canadian wilderness.

“So what is the big deal about your speech on pathological consumption?” James asked.

I replied that it totally dominates our planet, mind and body. I tried to explain how, knowing that James’ greatest fear was about the planet’s ecological crises. He worried about mining disasters in Brazil and China, wildfires in Canada’s Boreal forests, Amazonian deforestation and the Gulf Oil Spill.

“How do we change the destruction of the planet?” James exclaimed.

I said, “We must come to a stop, locate ourselves in stillness and make different choices by examining our minds and patterns of consuming. We must look at how we actually participate in creating these terrible disasters.” I noted that this kind of awareness takes us back to what we do with our minds.

“Just how?” was his one line mantra.

“You can start by making friends with your breath,” I said. James looked up at me quizzically.

“Bring your focus and attention to your in-breath, then on your out-breath. Really concentrate on the whole length of breath coming in and breath going out. Do this ten times. This kind of focus peels away anxiety, frustration and anger so that you become calm and clear. Try it with me and notice the difference for yourself.” (I ask all readers to do this with me now.)

James did so, and grinned with agreement. I told James that we do know how to reduce our ecological footprint. We also know that taking care of the earth and the oceans takes care of ourselves. We must begin it now for the future, which is our tomorrow, is shaped by the actions we take right now. I suggested to James that was enough for him to digest, but he yelled, “No, I want to hear more.”

I could not turn away from his eagerness. I mentioned that if rampant consumption remains our deepest desire we will continue to degrade the planet, eventually destroying its ability to harbour life . His fears were correct. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, Mother’s Day and so on are targeted by the captains of industry for optimal retail returns, and mindless consumerism is fuelled to the max. At Christmas we are far removed from remembering the significance of this spiritual celebration. Endless economic growth, the mantra of modern civilization, provides a promise of expectations without awareness of the consequences for the health of the planet. Our current non-sustainable energy and economic systems are subsystems of a global ecology that is disintegrating before our very eyes.  We must simplify, make do with less and change, or the burning world will definitely occur.

I told him that we can change our minds and patterns of food consumption. We re-educate and retrain ourselves mentally, choosing to support our body and planet by shifting ingrained habits.  It takes training but we can begin to step more lightly on the planet. It means reducing as much as possible the violence, destruction and suffering brought to living creatures and to the planet. Bringing peace into our own biological system and consciousness, inevitably brings it to all the other systems that we engage with through our thoughts, speech and actions.

“Is this your Buddhism?” James then asked.

I smiled, “The Buddha was very smart. He taught that the world is always burning, but burning with the fires of greed, anger and foolishness. His advice was simple; drop such dangers as soon as possible. What the Buddha taught was that it was the unskillful speech, selfish feelings, negative mental formations, wrong perceptions and badass consciousness that burned the world.

James laughed, “Did the Buddha really use the term badass?”

I grinned and said that was my embellishment, then pointed out that the Hopi people also referred to the burning as a state of imbalance known as Koyaanisqatsi. We are not the first people to experience this. The difference today is that without our commitment to wise intervention about climate change, we could be the last.

“Is climate change our basic problem then?” he asked.

I paused for a moment before replying. “The basic issue is whether we can adapt to climate change. You know about the 2015 Paris Accord on Climate Change. We talked about it before.” James nodded. “It was an exceptional step by the international community, showing their determination to prevent global temperatures from rising a further 1.5 degrees. The signatories returned to their respective countries to “Change Climate Change.” What was missing from all the deliberations and press releases was a candid recognition of the “Cascade Effect,” a notion from ecological science. Tipping points in sea level rise and temperature connect to tipping points in air pollution, which connect to tipping points in polar ice melt, hurricanes and forest wildfires. All of these trigger further tipping points that create deforestation, floods, desertification and so on in a relentless cascade. I reminded him of the wildfires in Alberta and British Columbia and pointed out that the entire boreal forest in Canada is a tinder box due to climate change. The reality is not about a reversal but about learning how to adapt to the consequences of climate change.”

I emphasized to James that the disasters all over the world interconnect. Whether wildfires, floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis or millions of aquatic creatures dead on beaches, it is all connected. The media and news reporters cast science to the wind when they report the drama and hype of terrible things happening world-wide but rarely tell the truth that it is another manifestation of climate change. News programs are often focused on ratings and some openly promote corporate interests that are contributing to these interconnected disasters. The general public are, by and large, not educated by the media about the terrible realities happening on our planet. Other obstacles that prevent the general public from taking wise action are a mixture of fear, despair, laziness, disempowerment and a sense of hopelessness.

“What on earth can I do to make a difference?” is a phrase muttered all over the world in countless languages. Followed by, “So why should I do anything?” There is certainly global awareness, but also fear about our future place on this planet. Maybe this is why you want to stay five years old forever. The difficult thing for you, for anyone, to grasp is that we are the primary cause.”

James shrugged in exasperation.

“Here’s the thing,” I said. “In terms of action, we have clear data-based evidence that we must cut back, make-do with less and implement a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity. So, where do we start? Of course we must think globally and be aware of the bigger picture despite fear and disempowerment. But we can also act locally in our families and communities. Our intentions then spread like ripples from a pebble dropped in still water. We can hold officials, politicians and corporate culture to account. We can tell the politicians and corporate decision makers that we, as voters and consumers, are deeply concerned about the planet and our impact on it.”

I continued speaking on a personal note, “So James, the challenge for me is to be in society, but as a still island of mindfulness. Take small steps at first, then larger ones. We just need to make essential changes in energy use, diet, language, media and outreach. Voluntary Simplicity is a good starting place. It means making deliberate choices about how we spend time and money. We can support environmental causes with the excess clutter in the basement and always think about whether we really “need” to buy something more.  Enjoy being simple and living modestly by shifting our perceptions just a little bit.  If we look deeply into what we do with time, money, clutter and our choices, then we can change.  Notice whether the consequences are peace and happiness for you. The world will follow. To avoid drastic outcomes, it is wise ro take training very, very seriously. This helps to avoid all the negative stuff I have told you about”

“Wow,” exclaimed James. “OK, I get it about training but what does it look like?” I was relieved by his intelligent questions but hesitant to talk to him about what I was thinking.

He watched me and said, “Just lay it out for me.”

I then proceeded to talk about “Gardening in the Mind.” I offered him eight simple steps to refine the mind and then engage differently with the world.

  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. The weeds are the negative energies we have cultivated.
  3. Be determined to meditate daily – do the weeding.
  4. Focus on and soften your heart – cultivate the soil of your mind’s garden.
  5. Cultivate the seeds of mindfulness at home, school, 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.

James was entering all of this on his tablet as I continued to talk. “Our ways of living together, caring for environmental, political and economic realms need to be re-constructed.” I assured James that we have the capacity to transform the mind. Finding stillness and inner silence is a necessary first step. We have to find a way to create the conditions for this to happen. In our modern world of fast paced lifestyles there are so many distractions that make us outwardly dependant and un-centered. We also find it easier to close down rather than open up our hearts. But the remedy is within reach. We can unravel the knots of suffering and move from being mindless to being mindful, achieved by gardening in the mind.”

I paused for a while to find the words to bring our conversation to an end.

“Why should we do this stuff James? Here’s why. When you are open and receptive you become an epi-center of light and energy for others. When you can sit with pain, face to face with what hurts, breathing in and out, you feel the sting recede as you calm. If you start to close down ask yourself, “Do I really want to take a pass on happiness?” Remember this – always let go once you feel you are closing down or clinging.” Then I said to him, “Do you know that I have a fridge magnet at home with the words – LET GO OR BE DRAGGED? I see it every day and I take the message to heart. It is essential to learn to be silent, to stop clinging and find the way to be present in the moment. As the Hopi advise us, never take anything personally and look around to see who is with you. Doing these things helps the world change. Such a destination is well worth your effort don’t you think?” James nodded his agreement.

I assured James that we are equal to the task and I chose not to hold back anything from him during this long conversation on his birthday. He is an unusually bright boy, asking questions and demanding clarification. Yet I knew he had grasped what I had said. 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.

You can order “Our World Is Burning” ($19.95) and receive one FREE autographed copy of a prior book plus Meditation CD as a thank you http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

Order Tab has options re Autographed Copies, Giveaways, Pick Up and Delivery plus Amazon and Indigo/Chapters.

 

5 Star Review by Red Headed Book Lover Blog.

Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement, Dr. Ian Prattis

Dr. Ian Prattis looks at the state of our world through expert eyes and shares his views on climate change, over-development and short-term thinking that have placed our fragile planet in considerable danger – then he prescribes the actions needed to save our embattled world.

Our World is Burning examines our fragile future and offers an alternative way of living based on Mindful Engagement. In sixteen essays Ian Prattis offers examples of how to respond to the most serious social, economic, environmental and personal challenges of the Twenty-First century. He advocates mindfulness practice to cultivate awareness as an ethical framework to guide actions, to create steadiness and equanimity, and to replenish body, mind and spirit. This book offers a lightning bolt that will singe incredulity and cynicism. Our World is Burning is Dr. Ian Prattis’ life work.

Our world is burning… in other words, our world is in a fragile state and humanity is destroying it. Granted, not everybody is responsible for the way the world is and the way the world is turning out; we could discuss for hours about who should be to blame but the sad truth is, we are all responsible in a way, even if it is only a tiny bit. That is why Our World is Burning, written by the talented Dr. Ian Prattis is a life-changing read that could change Earth, for the better. His inspiring, knowledgeable, informative writing makes for a stellar piece of nonfiction that will surely entertain readers from a wide variety of genres. As a woman who adores science… in particular environmental science, I was keen to read Our World is Burning because I like to be well-informed as well as be informed on how we can change the world and make it a better, safer place for everybody.

Our World is Burning is written by Dr. Ian Prattis who is a professor of Anthropology. In his book he shares his thoughts and opinions on matters such as climate change, over-development and the use of Mindful Engagement and how using mindfulness can change the world. Our World is Burning is perfectly organized into four sections with a total of 16 chapters. In these chapters, Ian Prattis writes an essay on a number of different issues. For example, his first chapter which is titled ‘Our World is Burning’ is a fascinating one and a strong opening essay that informs the reader of climate change. He begins this chapter by referencing Leonardo Dicaprio about his passion for climate change and Donald Trump’s claim that climate change is a hoax. He writes his essay in a fluid, flawless way which will read easily for the reader. He informs the reader on climate change and the problems it is causing and will continue to cause for the planet. It is a fascinating essay because it informed me on many matters I never knew about. I adore science, but that does not mean that I understand every branch of it! So I adore Dr. Ian Prattis for writing his book in an easy to read, and informative way which will make the most unconfident of learners feel like geniuses! Our World is Burning may be about environmental science but it also touches on many different subjects such as Anthropology which is defined as; the study of human societies and cultures and their development – and mindfulness as Prattis is a Zen teacher as well as a professor. He explains that the practice of mindfulness can be used to ‘cultivate awareness as an ethical framework to guide actions, to create steadiness and equanimity, and to replenish body, mind, and spirit.’ This quote taken from the description of this book is powerful as well as inspiring and the chapters on these subjects are breath-taking because they will make readers realize that a tool such as mindfulness, that is not difficult to practice, will be able to change your life, as well as the world around you.

Dr. Ian Prattis is quite simply a gem, and his work is stellar. Prattis is well equipped to inform us readers on all of these subjects explored in this book because he has a vast amount of knowledge and experience. I hate when a book that falls into the science genre is written by somebody who claims to have a ton of knowledge and experience but does not, so the fact that Our World is Burning is written by a professor is simply fantastic and makes me love this book even more. Prattis has managed to include a wealth of knowledge in his book all while making it accessible and easy to read for his readers. His readers will be able to understand every topic and subject thanks to his intricate writing that has a natural rhythm.

Our World is Burning indeed is a fantastic book that should be owned by anybody; this is because it can evoke change and that is a quality which is brilliant. That is why I have no choice but to award this book Five Stars because it is inspiring, informative, and practical. Dr. Ian Prattis is a celebrated professor, but now he needs to be a celebrated author too because his sensational book is note-worthy and incredible!

Thank you so much for reading book lovers, I appreciate it so much and love discussing wonderful books with all of you so please, comment below and let me know your thoughts on Our World is Burning; do you see yourself reading this book? Let me know all of those brilliant thoughts of yours below! Thank you so much again for reading!

Goodbye for now book lovers, 

You can order “Our World Is Burning” ($19.95) and receive one FREE autographed copy of a prior book plus Meditation CD as a thank you http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

Order Tab has options re Autographed Copies, Giveaways, Pick Up and Delivery plus Amazon and Indigo/Chapters

Return to Tulum.

This poem was written while visiting the Mayan ruins at Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico. I was last there some 30 years ago and wrote a number of poems while sitting on the “Castillo” overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

  1. Return to Tulum 

Like tall reeds moving with unison in a jungle pool

the selfie sticks clump together in swarms

before the ancient monuments of Tulum.

Plastic smiles consume their posterity

 

Right where I had sat alone with reverence – thirty years ago.

 

Can sacredness penetrate unbridled progeny,

of opulence, entitlement, noise and distraction?

Vacant minds of pasted smiles.

 

Thirty years since I visited the walled city of Tulum.

Now finding it sequestered behind ropes and security,

the price of graffiti, looting and volley ball.

The ancients could still be heard,

presence emerging with stillness and respect,

though Silent to oiled sunbathers.

Whistle blowing security guards usher hooligans

from forbidden coastal bays and ceremonial locations,

march them out of where they cannot be.

 

Years ago I occupied similar space,

but was bound with reverence.

No security guards to police my silent awe.

 

A whispered wish for moderns to register with Mayan intelligence.

The Gods still Face All Ways,

provide a beacon of memory and history.

Perhaps the selfies art will find matter in time

  • to comply with reverence and respect
  • to replace benumbed fate in a global civilization

intent on destruction.

 

Then other swarms at last appeared.

Legions of people carrying the banner of languages.

Serious, bolder, organized, marching in order

like legionnaires, phalanx by phalanx.

From Japan, schools, Europe, Mexico, Everywhere –

tutored by multilingual guides, interpreters and sages

carrying knowledge of Maya intelligence.

These legions dwarfed the selfies and hooligans

and the Gods That Face All Ways

were recognized, not mocked.

 

With relief, Venus, the evening star of the Maya

appeared in the night sky,

as the walled city of Tulum emptied.

 

A murmur of Halach Uimic dynasty vibrated

through the five openings of the walled city

into the ceremonial center,

then East to the Castillo.

Misnamed by Juan de Grijalva in 1518,

this majestic monument never a castle.

It was a great palace, crowned by a temple

commanding the cliff top,

sloping steeply to the Caribbean Sea.

Complete with blood stained sacrificial stone,

 

Decades ago, before brazen tourism and tight security

I sat by this Upper Temple.

Alert to frightening corner-stones facing West.

Emulated masks with mouths wide open and teeth bared.

I stayed for hours – a healthy distance from the sacrificial stone.

Thirty years on I found a similar stone at the foot of the monument,

on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Outside the security rope I sat quietly upon the stone.

Silently tuning-out the hundreds of passers-by.

And there it was…

the mesmerizing energy from time before.

Then, I could not put pen to paper.

 

Now, I can.