Category Archives: Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTINCTION

Ian Prattis, Professor Emeritus, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

Climate Change and Extinction

Are we too late to chart a Beginning Anew for humanity? Can we engineer a communal Hero’s Journey to reconstruct society based on ecology, caring and sharing, while power elites ignore their complicity in the destruction of life on Planet Earth? Let us face it – the Industrial Growth Civilization is a system devouring itself, dislocating the organic structures of Mother Earth to the point that all species, not just our own, are at risk. It has taken us to a dangerous precipice. From there we stare into the abyss of climate change, ecosystem collapse, ISIL, resource wars, terrorism, white supremacy, permanent refugees and anarchy. Are we at an end game without a philosophy for the future?

How could the human mind capable of monumental achievements neglect the destruction of a lived-in-ecosystem? Our addictive dependence on carbon based energy propelled the downward spiral of devastation on our planet. The process was enabled because we allowed the environment to become an extension of human egocentric needs and values, an ego-sphere rather than an eco-sphere. In this ego-sphere we consume mindlessly in the global economy without regard for ecosystem balance; without any concern about creating inequality, poverty and ecosystem imbalance. Planetary care is not part of this agenda.

In the 1980s it was possible to make the leap to a zero-net-carbon world. Yet the opposite trajectory was chosen with a rapid increase in greenhouse gases, as wealthy nations and oil, gas and coal enterprises doubled their production of fossil fuels. We have had the scientific knowledge since 1980 to create the solution, but the obstacles were not technical or scientific. The obstacles are the attitudes, values and concepts that define the dominance of corporate values. Their bottom line of profits was upheld by successive governments that devalued science. It was never about the unanimity of science. It was about the brand of economics favored by the carbon cabal of extraordinary power that held governments in their thrall. The focus on the bottom line of economic wealth at all costs was very stupid. Big Oil and government created propaganda campaigns to promote oil and gas extraction, irrespective of the damage caused to ecosystems and populations. They produced false images of reforestation, utmost safety, deep concern for wildlife, populations and clean water. This played to receptive audiences yet decades later we find rivers and lakes occupying a wasteland. Oil derivatives swiftly poured through interconnected waterways. Indigenous populations world-wide that once augmented their households with fish, game and forest products are no more. They either relocated or died. This effectively torpedoed any form of transition to a sustainable, renewable economy.

Did anyone notice that degradation of the Earth’s ecology was the catalyst for radical Climate Change? Food crops were destroyed by horrendous heat waves as carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere. Did no-one realize that food riots and world panic trace back to one cause, the economic agenda of fossil fuel extraction? The undercover deal between governments and fossil extraction corporations was invested in political and economic structures that centered on that same carbon combustion complex. This collective agenda destabilized world order.

Nathaniel Rich’s brilliant essay (NYT Magazine August 5, 2018) shows clearly that there was a decisive possibility – forty years ago – for a turning point. Only it was never taken. A small group of scientists, politicians and activists in America came to a broad understanding of the causes and dynamics of climate change. Put directly – the scientists had realized that the more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, then the warmer Earth would become and in doing so – it would trigger a violent atmospheric wrecking of the planet. In 1979 they placed their findings and consensus to the highest levels of government and industry in the United States and around the world. The scientists included James Hansen – NASA climate studies; Gordon MacDonald – geophysicist; Jule Charney – meteorologist; Steve Schneider – environmental biologist; George Woodall – ecologist and many more world class scientists. Politicians such as Al Gore and lobbyist Rafe Pomerance took the scientific findings to the White House and to energy giants such as Exxon. The latter were distinctly uncomfortable about how much they would be blamed for climate change. Despite their early support, the energy giants quickly turned the dialog to finding mouthpieces that could state that the scientific findings were not translatable into global disasters.

The scientists, however, attempted to divert the catastrophe with a clear grasp of what was causing Climate Change. Their lobbying was straightforward from their meticulous scientific findings. Their emphasis to politicians and industry was about the freezing of carbon emissions and the development of alternative energy that did not create carbon dioxide. At that time, some forty years ago, it seemed to be a good idea to many world leaders. A consensus based plan, however, would not happen without American leadership. The United States was the obvious nation to lead such an outcome. It failed to do so, much to the chagrin and reputation of the scientists, as their findings were censored and belittled. They then became targets that the carbon cabal sought to undermine.

The evidence, however, was drastic. In 1990 more than 20 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide was placed in the atmosphere from fossil fuels. By 2018 it is in excess of 32.5 billion metric tons, accompanied by the deadly tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, sea level inundations and water surges destroying low lying coastal regions of the planet. In 2019 Harvard Professor James Anderson asserts that present Earth carbon levels were last found in the Eocene Epoch – 33 million years ago. Due to present warming oceans he speculates that the amount of water vapor now in the atmosphere triggers storm systems that are violent to the extreme. This is now amplified by the breaking up of the Ross Ice Shelf, which stabilizes the West Antarctic Ice sheet. It is now melting 10 times faster than average and will soon be unable to block other glaciers. As it weakens, rising sea levels of several meters are to be expected. The obvious knock-on invitation is to create even more destructive cyclones, tsunamis and tornadoes that will destroy human habitation along with other species. Professor Anderson also notes, somewhat dryly, that while the sea-level rise is irreversible, university administrators still refuse to divest from fossil fuels! They prefer to join executives of the carbon cabal and media, which fail to fact-check statements made by politicians and corporate oligarchs.

The creature which enabled such an outcome is none other than fossil fuel industries supported by successive government regimes. This collusion successfully suppressed science, confused public knowledge with misinformation, and furthermore beefed up the blatant bribery of politicians. The carbon energy cabal funded million dollar disinformation campaigns. They paid select scientists to distort the truth and state that there was an uncertainty factor to the likely outcome of climate change – if indeed climate change existed at all! Oil and gas executives – and their billionaire backers – protected their profits, downplayed scientific conclusions as “uncertain” and deliberately dulled the intelligence of the general public. Their design was to control, delay and block binding climate change endeavors. Their pathetic, yet successful, message was to reframe climate change as a “dual energy challenge!”

In the spring of 2019 the UN committee on Biodiversity and Environmental Science issued a startling video with a report over 1,000 pages, which showed that one million of the planet’s species were facing rapid extinction from humans. The 145 experts were drawn from 50 countries. The 39 page summary places biodiversity alongside climate change and projects that, without co-operative global action, major biodiversity losses will continue to 2050 and beyond. Added to this list are – oceanic overfishing, burning of fossil fuel, land and water pollution and invasive species. Furthermore – three quarters of Earth’s land and 85% of crucial wetlands have been lost, making it harder for other species and us to survive. This 2019 report rings an alarm yet indicates that the world can actually reverse this crisis. A major block to such optimism is that climate denial is a baseline for Republicans in the US. They are unlikely to see any responsibility or reason to co-operate with any global agenda. Along with right wing politicians in many nations their divisiveness does not allow constructive contributions to emerge that can stave off the extinction of species. What is lacking are the practical solutions for government, business and communities. Alarms do not cut it anymore, particularly as drastic planetary change leaves organisms – including us – little time to adapt.

The 2019 UN video and Report confirmed the radical views of Elizabeth Kolbert who wrote The Sixth Extinction in 2014. The six-mile-wide asteroid that slammed into Earth 66 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs and many other species. This was the fifth time that events almost eradicated life on Earth. The difference between the five prior extinctions on Planet Earth, and the imminent sixth, is that the present extinction is due to humans as the agents of mass destruction. Kolbert makes it very clear that the acceleration of the Sixth Extinction is mainly driven by the consequences of CO2 pouring into the atmosphere. The world is changing faster than species can adapt – and that includes us. Are we likely to rein in our economic growth, our carbon emissions and toxic pollution?  Paul Ehrlich in 2014 wryly states, “In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches.”

I do not think the UN in 2019 offered solutions – just alarms, while the world carries on with life as usual.  This is unfortunate as “life as usual” is no longer an option when the carbon cabal holds all the cards. They continue to promote propaganda to the tune of 200 million dollars per year to bring down the “bogus” climate change agenda – and that includes everything that the UN so carefully delivered in the spring of 2019. The corporate oligarchy is clearly criminal as the mass of humanity is presently being wiped out. In spite of the excellent and provocative UN Video and Report in 2019, the carbon cabal maintains a very long arm. Their organization is presently paying selected scientists to promote the position that the existing evidence on climate change does not support crisis warnings. This is a bought and sold lie. Everyone knows the lack of truth – the US government, oil and gas companies, industrialists, politicians and so on – all know the truth. To keep the bottom line of profits in their favor, they are willing to accept that human civilization would be destroyed in the not so far future – a very unusual suicide pact.

I ponder on MLK’s quote: “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

 

EXTINCTION

I am embarking on my 18th book – perhaps the most difficult yet. It is titled BROKEN GLASS, which is about our broken world – particularly with respect to the impending Extinction brought about by Climate Change. The difficulty for me has been the darkness of Extinction and the pacifying alternative of Impermanence. Yet my writing so far has brought this steadily my way to document. I have drafted an Overview that sets the scenario. This will take a while with research, writing and persuading my publisher to run with it. http://www.ianprattis.com

OVERVIEW for BROKEN GLASS 

I Had a Dream                                                                                  

 I dreamed I was in a river running kayak, sitting quietly in a pool outside the swift eddies racing to the edge of a waterfall that was huge, sheer, with a vertical drop of 1,000 feet. The kayak was bright yellow, the short stubby craft an extension of my body. My wetsuit was black and I wore a red lifejacket tightly fastened. My helmet was also red. The shaft of the paddle was black, the twin blades a dancing red. I looked around at the high mountains and forest, noticing the mist rising from the swift flowing river. Then pushed the kayak into the racing eddies straight to the edge of the waterfall. As I went over I raised the paddle high over my head and leaned back. I did nothing to steer or guide the kayak. The descent seemed forever – timeless. Yet in a moment my craft had submerged into the river below and then I was bobbing on the surface paddling downstream. My first thought in the dream as I manoeuvred close to the river’s edge was “That was a really bad run. I didn’t do anything.” Then moments later in the dream I stopped my thinking, realizing that it was the perfect run, precisely because I did not interfere with forces greater than mine. My lack of insight had missed the surrender to the fierce current of the waterfall, to the awesome power of the stream of consciousness. The surrender to the stream of consciousness was far more important than I realized. The dream lingered in my mind long enough to reveal that my literary works were the stream of consciousness – just different pearls on the same thread.

I had flown into the small airport of Castlegar in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia for my son’s wedding in the summer of 2009. The short hop over the Rockies in a Dash 8 aircraft from Calgary was spectacular, especially the flight into Castlegar airport. The wingtips seemed to touch the valley mountains as the aircraft swerved sharply into the river fringed village of Castlegar. My son Iain, his bride to be – Nancy – and my grandson Callun were there to pick me up and deliver me to where I was staying that night in nearby Nelson. The wedding ceremony was the next day in the Tibetan Buddhist Gompa.

The unforgettable dream, vivid in every detail, took place that evening in Nelson. I shared this dream with Iain and Nancy next morning, so they could perhaps see for themselves the surrender to the other, necessary for their marriage to work well. They understood. Their dharma and mountain friends enjoyed an incredible wedding in the Tibetan Gompa. There was a mountain of alcohol at the reception and dance afterwards, bottles of wine, beer and whisky with a line of glasses for Mai Tais. Yet hardly anyone drank, as the “high” was the quality of celebration and surrender in the wedding ceremony.

I have thought about this dream a great deal over the past decades and the reflections were revealing, though difficult to address. Where was it taking me? I eventually realized it was into the dark space of Extinction of our species. That was a shock that went through me.

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

Failsafe was born from that moment at the end of winter in 2006. It was published in October 2008.  I was giving a talk about this experience to an audience in Vancouver and suddenly found myself talking about two previous books I had published and the next three books not yet written. Failsafe was the midpoint. All these books were writing me, although I was not aware of it. Each book had issued forth from the experience of profound silence, a life work writing me!  It took me years to wake up to this. The first book in this trilogy  Anthropology at The Edge was published in 1997, followed by The Essential Spiral in 2002 and Failsafe in 2008. They talk to you from the seasons of my life.  My insights, disasters and occasional breakthroughs are the basis for this abundant creation.

These books were university text books and the basis for two television courses. They investigated the necessity of changing the mindset of humanity in order to combat Climate Change. I wrote about a Failed Genetic Experiment, though did place a question mark after “Experiment.” I knew that if we continue to turn our beautiful rivers into sewers because of our endless greed and neglected ignorance, there is no place on Mother Earth to sustain our present civilization. It will join the trash heap collectively created by mindless generations of humanity. We have allowed the environment to become an extension of human egocentric needs and values – an ego-sphere rather than an eco-sphere. In this ego-sphere we consume mindlessly in the global economy without regard for ecosystem balance or our creation of vast inequality and poverty. Planetary care is not part of this agenda.

My deepest hope, however, was that our innate knowledge would somehow become manifest as we interconnect with a vast counter culture that is no longer a minority, no longer asleep or disempowered. Diligent mindfulness can change our brain structures in the direction that permits new paradigms of behavior to come into form. As cells in the ecosystem of Gaia, it is as though humanity can align their neuronal networks with principles of ecosystem balance, ethics and responsibility. The plan in my mind was that the critical mass would arrive and amount to a collective tipping point for our species. Once the ego-driven mind is reined in, then clarity and compassion are suddenly there to provide the basis for how we can be with the planet and with one another in a totally new way. This is what happens if we “Begin It Now” – the concluding words to Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves.

The following book – Earth My Body, Water My Blood – was co-authored with students in my last university class on Ecology and Culture. The students brought passion, insight and sheer hard work to investigate the basic components of a new social and economic form for the 21st century – eco-community. It was based on the Five Great Elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space – inherent in all aspects of life. The driving force adopted by the students was from the feminine representation of enlightenment. I have always thought of the present millennium as the century of the daughters. Not so much as a gender separate phenomenon, but as attributes of a holistic, nurturing presence of mind. These principles have parallels with Vedic philosophy and are found in Indigenous, Chinese and Western Alchemical traditions. Circles within circles all interconnecting – beautifully expressed by the Oglala Sioux medicine man, Black Elk, as the interdependent hoops of all nations and traditions. The students had decided on a profound template for this collection. Their adventure to establish eco-communities reflects the shift in mindset required to salvage the global ecosystem for human habitation. Our present values and patterns are the architects of the present global ecological emergency. We are our environment. Whether we live in a rural or urban locale, in the industrial or developing worlds, our mindset has to be focused on living as one component of Gaia’s ecosystem.

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

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

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

In New Planet, New World, I bring the 18th century to collide with the 21st century. Time, culture, space and consciousness are fused across centuries to create the final book of this trilogy. New Planet, New World provides a counterpoint to the demise of modern civilization. I chart a Beginning Anew for humanity, a communal Hero’s Journey to reconstruct society based on ecology, caring and sharing, as power elites ignore their complicity in the destruction of life on Planet Earth. This adventure is not without risk or cost. The clash of centuries opens Chapter One with a lyrical and dangerous meeting on a distant planet in 2080. The protagonists are from different centuries and cultures. The dark episodes and lyrical passages move the story along with action, fear, resolution, death, execution, bravery and exile in a futuristic opportunity for humanity. This action packed book of intertwining plotlines arc into the epiphany of the final chapter, which muses about human survival anywhere. This end game is a philosophy for the future. The reader now begins to harken to the rip tides of this futuristic novel and anticipate just where I am going!

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 on how I thought and wrote. I would say that without poetry cultures implode. Four extraordinary indigenous 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 chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious.

This direction of my writing found its foundation in poetry. I made a radical turn to reconstruct anthropological methodology as the poetic voice was required for anthropological investigation of the cultural other. The language of the anthropologist could not represent raw experience about field work. therefor poetry is philosophically essential to the work of anthropology. I saw poetry as an uninterrupted process whereas field notes were not. I suggested to colleagues that the poetry of observation is what anthropologists are supposed to do.

To prove this, I called on forty brilliant anthropologists, many of them senior icons in the discipline, to send me the poems they wrote while studying the cultural other. Much to my surprise the American Anthropological Association (AAA) published the ensuing book I edited. In 1985 Reflections: The Anthropological Muse was released by the AAA at their annual conference and held up as a new direction for the next century of anthropology. Here’s why.

My basic contention, shared by many other anthropologists, was that something crucial was missing from field work. The study of other cultures had often become pseudo-forms, which were neither true to the cultural other or to the science of anthropology. I proposed a poetry of observation in order to close the epistemological gap between observer and cultural other. In this way the poetic dimension became a crucial part of the developing methodology of anthropology. It had the function of revealing what has been suppressed and ignored. Anthropological poetics at the level of “interiority” is a distinctive account that the accepted discourse in anthropology at that time did not convey.

I wanted a different kind of anthropology, one that will engage dialectically with the cultural other and express it in a way that is useful for the other culture and my own society. Reflections: The Anthropological Muse changed the manner in which anthropology is justified and practiced.  Anthropologists who commit themselves to poetry in order to say something different about field experience are the tricksters and shamans of the discipline. I have been described as much worse! Though do believe that  I am part of a basic radicalization of the discipline and an evolution into a different kind of anthropology. A continuation of this radical perspective emerged several decades later when I brought out a personal volume in 2018 – Painting with Words Poetry for a New Era. Some words from Five Star Reviews may bring that piece of the thread home.

Kathryn Bennet wrote:

“I read this book three times before settling in to write this review. Each time I felt that I uncovered another layer with the collection of poems that I had missed the last time through. To me there is something truly magical about a work that can do that…….The poems strike right at the heart of the journey the author himself has taken in life, and yet it also has an ability to resound with others…….You can see the images come to life before your eyes as you read….This collection of poems takes the reader through the full gamut of human emotions. The author has masterfully used his own life experience to transport the reader through this journey, while striving to leave a mark directly on the reader’s heart.”

From K.C. Finn:

“Shying away from the old fashioned traditions of symbolism and imagery, the work expresses an emotional outcry in a raw and direct form, creating powerful auditory moments to express the highs and lows of the human condition………What results is a work which runs the full spectrum of emotional consideration, taking a singular personal experience and reaching for the qualities which make it universal to all…..The poems are direct in address, but spiritual and philosophical in the message they leave lingering afterwards.”

Romuald Dzemo speaks:

“A collection of poems thematically arranged that reflect the very soul of humanity, filled with imagery and rhythms that mimic the different seasons of the human soul. The poems in this collection bear witness to what readers feel, perhaps in the hushed hours of the day; emotions, thoughts, feelings, and realities that allow readers to connect with the things he writes about…….The voice is powerful, the poetic lines rhythmic, and the entire collection is filled with powerful imagery……..I love the depth in Ian Prattis’ poetry and the beauty in the rhythm and richness of its diction…….For instance: “A week in the life/ of a poem/ has words racing to knowing’s edge.” Here is another: “Phrases creep/ over the dawn of logic/ suspended then gone.”

I also brought out four e books on Buddhist Dharma and placed them on Amazon Kindle, Keeping Dharma Alive Volume 1 & 2; Portals and Passages Book 1 & 2. I was assessing this path as a way to handle the incoming extinction I felt was so imminent, placing dharma and environment in sync with one another. In my television course on Ecology and Environment I presented the Five Mindfulness Trainings from Buddhism as being nothing other than Environmental Ethics. Our World Is Burning My Views on Mindful Engagement soon followed. The sixteen essays offered examples of how to respond to the most serious social, economic, environmental and personal challenges of the Twenty-First century. I thought Mindful Engagement would be a tenable tool to cultivate awareness as an ethical framework which would guide actions, create steadiness and equanimity, and furthermore replenish body, mind and spirit. The book was offered as a lightning bolt to singe incredulity and cynicism.

The reviews of this book reinforced my attempt to create an authentic tapestry about the state of the world and how we could best engage with it. I could only draw from my experience and hope that would be enough for the reader. My approach to life comes through experience, crises, difficulties and joys that may have common ground with many readers. To the best of my ability, I endeavor to follow Gandhi’s principles of ahimsa and the teachings on mindfulness. These are the guidelines and foundations for my peace and environmental activism. I live very simply as a planetary activist. I am a Zen teacher, also a recognized guru in India. My initial task is to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. The focus on daily mindfulness from my Zen practice enables me to be still and clear. From this energy the poems, chapters and books emerge.

My activism is a result of my internal work. Steadiness, clarity and compassion are within me, rather than ego posturing from the lunatic fringe. Though there was certainly a “rush” from the latter, I prefer the still-point, uncoloured by the excess of ego and desire for recognition. Such a still-point permits me to be free in my own sovereignty, no matter what I am doing. It also propels me to serve the planet and humanity by creating bridges and pathways of harmony.

My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. In the Sixteen Essays of Our World is Burning, 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. 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, my attempt to get mindful engagement across to society was not successful – very little changed. So I have to up my game, as it were, and steadily examine the Darkness and Extinction that is rapidly drawing closer to wiping humanity from this planet. In this present work – BROKEN GLASS –  I am developing a perspective to handle Extinction well – though I find it difficult to write about Darkness and Extinction. So I draw on sages, Wisdom of the Elders and attempt to face Extinction with bravery and a developed consciousness. I am encouraged by a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

Someone asked me, “Aren’t you worried about the state of the world?” I allowed myself to breathe and then I said, “What is most important is not to allow your anxiety about what happens to fill your heart. If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not be able to help.”

This takes me to recognize the significance of impermanence, which could be deemed a pacifying response to ecological apocalypse and the Sixth Extinction. Protest and rebellion to a nation’s inadequate attempts about Climate Change are unlikely to succeed. Protest and rebellion may be thought of as the alternative to impermanence – but they will certainly be brutally dispersed by national police and military. Thus the outcome of Extinction remains unstoppable before our eyes.

There is a Sequence to unravel the competing outcomes, captured with difficulty, though logic may sustain a rally.

Part One: Broken Glass is candid and brutal. It opens the darkness. It begins with a futuristic analysis of Climate Change and the inevitable fate provided by the suicide pact engineered by corrupt corporations for most of humanity. The next essay is about the Children’s Strike for Climate instigated by Greta Thunberg. I admire this magnificent young woman as she impacts generations and perhaps some politicians. Yet, the corporate oligarchy will not budge from their greed and power. They have already bought and sold governments. They will certainly gut the possibility of restraint with respect to Climate Change, thereby dashing the bravery of children worldwide. The emergence of Extinction Rebellion – a global grassroots environmental organization – is a disruption I fully support. The target of Extinction Rebellion is the existing political establishment at the beck and call of corporate cabals. Such very powerful financial interests, creators of Climate Change, will not allow their power and control to slip away. Inevitably this escalates to the collapse of societies amidst violent revolution.

Part Two: Facing Extinction begins with an understanding of impermanence, drawn from Buddhist perspectives that make sense. I add three stories that provide different faces of Extinction. Only one of them is uplifting.

Part Three: All My Relations rests on indigenous wisdom. Four stories that bear on the wisdom holders who patiently taught me their lore about Mother Earth.

Part Four: Hello Darkness is a relief from the darkness. Four stories about bravery – from India, through the eyes of a terrified nine year old boy, a futuristic gift from the Hopi and a moment of awakening.

Part Five: The Muse. Three poems to provide a stamp on the whole offering. The final poem draws on Ancient Wisdom, appropriately defining an alternative way that may no longer be available.

I return to the dream of the waterfall with a vertical drop of 1,000 feet. This was where I surrendered to the awesome stream of consciousness pouring through me. One thing it has taught me – the many books created are one body of work that culminates in “BROKEN GLASS.”

Part One – Broken Glass

  1. A Candid Look at the Future
  2. The Children

Part Two – Facing Extinction

  1. Manifesto of Extinction
  2. Love Lost and Dark Shadows
  3. Solace of Winter
  4. Torched

Part Three – All My Relations

  1. Remembering
  2. Wolfie’s Life in Death
  3. Four Arrows
  4. Sacred Stalker

Part Four – Hello Darkness

  1. Through Nine Year Old Eyes
  2. The Transfer Particle
  3. Transformation in India
  4. The Ewe

Part Five – The Muse

  1. Vietnam War Memorial
  2. Cabinet of Bigotry
  3. Ancient Wisdom

Greta Thunberg and March 15, 2019

In Sweden 2018, 15 year old Greta Thunberg sat outside the Swedish parliament with her water bottle, books, snacks and a homemade sign “SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE.” Every Friday she left her school to do this. She says “No-one was interested, so I had to do it myself.” She was not alone for long. A flyer from her stated: “You grownups don’t give a shit about my future.” Sweden’s newspapers and reporters soon flocked around her. She still strikes every Friday. She spoke at the UN climate talks in Poland and called out world leaders for not being mature enough to tell it like it is. “Even that burden is left to us children” was part of her address to the global business elite at Davos. She even told the EU to double its climate change reduction targets as this would be its fair share of keeping the planet below the dangerous level of global warming. Greta affirmed her stance with a withering Ted Talk in Stockholm that left nothing behind and earned an ovation from a huge audience.

She lit a fuse among young people around the world. And that fuse has brought the EU to institute further steps to reduce Climate Change in Europe. Thousands of students in Europe and over 1,000 cities world-wide joined her “FridaysForFuture” campaign. Her example came amidst very dangerous warnings about climate change. Thunberg remarked that “Change is on the horizon, but to see that change we also have to change.” Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome. She cites her neuronal structures as providing her single pointed dedication to the issue of Climate Change. She quips, “I see the world kind of black-and-white. Either we go on as a civilization or we don’t.”

This unusual warrior for Climate Change, now 16 years old, deserves the active attention of every adult in the world. She has put out a call for students world-wide to leave their schools on Friday March 15 to “Strike for Climate,” bringing out the determination of young people to force the hand of political change. Her model for this was the Parkland School students in Florida, who walked out of school to protest gun violence. Greta holds the firm desire for global student strikes to be non-violent, with no hate and no damage. She insists that everyone become educated about the Paris Accords, respecting science and personally minimising their carbon footprint. She requests children to do their homework about Climate Change, because most adults have yet to do so.

“Youth Climate Change US” are mobilized to point the Strike right at resistant politicians, demanding that they decarbonize the US economy, and furthermore make legislative action to combat the effects of climate change. The registered Climate strikes are planned in over 90 countries around the planet. Young people see that their present and future on the planet are at stake and they are pulling in university students and women to strike with them.

British PM Theresa May asserted that the school strikes are “wasting lesson time.” Greta’s sharp response was, “Political leaders have wasted 30 years of inaction. And that is slightly worse..” Good bye Theresa May and your ilk! It is apropriate to ignore her, when over 3,000 climate scientists have given their full backing to the strikes. I feel strongly that the response globally to the March 15 strike will be beyond anything we have seen on our planet. Please do your part – Support and Help.

Wise Words from Joanna Macy 

“Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now. You are alive with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart. And there’s such a feeling and experience of adventure. It’s like a trumpet call to a great adventure. How do we begin to deal with the plastic in the ocean that covers areas the size of countries? What are cell phones and microwaves doing to our biological rhythms? What exactly is in our food? How do we address genetic modification of crops? We are so hooked on all of this, on every level. How do we begin to contain it?

Carrying capacity is the level most people talk about. It’s a defining aspect of the climate crisis. How will we grow the food we need given huge variations and extremities of weather? How will we handle the natural disasters and famines that will result from a chaotic climate? The deeper level is that consequences will extend far beyond the collapse of this civilization. The third level of crisis is the enormous increase in the rate of extinctions – creating a loss of biodiversity so extreme that we can glimpse the doom of complex life forms. It takes highly differentiated, integrated and diverse systems to produce life forms complex enough for consciousness. The fourth level of crisis would be the destruction of everything more complex than anaeorobic life forms, because of the loss of our oxygen production in the oceans and on land.

Our little minds think it must be over, but the very fact that we are seeing it is enlivening. We know we can’t possibly see the whole thing, because we are just one part of a vast interdependent whole–one cell in a larger body. So we don’t take our own perceptions as the ultimate. My world view has been so interwoven between the Buddhist teachings and living systems theory. They inform each other so powerfully. But even in Buddhism, where impermanence is a matter of course, there are no obvious concepts to deal with super-impermanence, in the sense that humans are now bringing an end to the Cenozoic era. In the best case, there may be an Ecozoic era to follow it. Continuing on our “business-as-usual” trajectory will acidify the oceans and trigger runaway global heating, epic mass extinction and a completely new cycle of geological time. A few climate scientists consider we may have already entered into runaway climate change.

So the choice is how to live now. With the little time left, we could wake up more. We could allow this whole experience of the planet, which is intrinsically rewarding, to manifest through our heart-minds—so that the planet may see itself, so that life may see itself. Unfortunately the dominant institution of our time has been created in the image of a psychopath, and it is legally mandated to behave as such. The American broadcast media is thoroughly controlled by corporate ownership or advertising revenue. They have reduced the population to a state of such stupidity. The experiential work, is to help people make friends with uncertainty, and reframe it as a way of coming alive. Because there are never any guarantees at any point in life.

And as far as Buddhism is concerned, I find that Western Buddhists tend to privatize their practice, and look for what I call premature equanimity. They go for peace of mind and that is such an inadequate response. A major change is the relevance people are now finding in Native American teachings. There’s a deep respect for the wisdom that is there, and for the nobility of character that it fostered. I think that it is a precious addition to our triple gem—this fourth gem of our time—that the native peoples are speaking out.”

See also:  http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

Our World is Burning is an inspiring and informative read. Ian Prattis offers us valuable insight, wisdom and perspective in finding our way to a healthier world, one based on compassion and commitment, mindful of how everything we do impacts the whole.

  • Laurence Overmire, Author of “The One Idea That Saves The World”

 

ARE WE STUPID?

Forest Fires and the drastic increase in Global temperatures may become the new normal. In my latest book – Our World is Burning – Essay 3: “Are We Stupid?”  is timely.

http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

Essay Three: Are We Stupid?                                                                                                                 

Oscar nominee Pete Postlethwaite plays the best role of his acting career in the film The Age of Stupid. The movie fast forwards us to the year 2055. Pete plays the sole character in this riveting film. He stars as an old man living alone in a world totally decimated by global warming. His location is the High Arctic. The film makes James Lovelock’s conclusions in his 2006 book Revenge of Gaia, seem prophetic. In an interview about this book, Lovelock provides a dire prediction for humanity: “Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”

The film character played by Postlethwaite is the curator of The Global Archive, a digital storage laboratory located in the Arctic. It is the last habitable place for humans on Planet Earth. The footage he views shows how global warming reached tipping points and runaway effects while at the same time humanity’s achievements are also saved for posterity. How could the human mind capable of such monumental achievements neglect the destruction happening to their lived-in-ecosystem? The old man shakes his head in disbelief whilelooking for an answer. The film gives us one – carbon based energy. Our addictive dependence to it is what propelled the downward spiral of devastation. The addictive process was enabled because we allowed the environment to become an extension of human egocentric needs and values, an ego-sphere rather than an eco-sphere. In this ego-sphere we consumed mindlessly of the global economy without regard for ecosystem balance or concern about creating inequality, poverty and ecosystem imbalance. Planetary care is not on this agenda, as the film graphically shows. We see the old man in the High Arctic watching archival video footage, carefully preserved from 2008. His stark question to the viewer is: “Why didn’t we stop climate change in 2008 when there was a chance?”

The director of the film, Fanny Armstrong, creates a montage from live news and documentaries saved from 1950 to 2008. The video record charts the steps taken by humanity into global devastation – devastating that is for human habitation and for all other species. In an artfully created mosaic, six real life characters play out the dramas of their personal stories. Their humanity and incredible stupidity are extant in this brilliant tapestry of human folly. What is so gripping is that we who view it are made to feel distinctly uncomfortable, because their shadows and myopia reflect our own. They arrive as a projection of our political and corporate leaders. After watching this film, we can no longer hide from these shadows. We are forcibly held to account.  If we do not act now, this film then becomes our story.

Two Forks in the Road – Which One Will We Take?

“Failsafe’ is an engineering term used to describe a lever or stop valve that comes into play when a piece of machinery is just about to self-destruct. Phut! The lever comes down or the stop valve kicks in before the boiler blows up or the nuclear core melts down before inevitable destruction occurs. I talked about the Failsafe in Consciousness concept in my book, Failsafe: Saving the Earth From Ourselves,published by Manor House in 2008. It describes how consciousness expansion will be held back by a deliberately cultivated ignorance about better knowledge. That is, until the global ecological situation deteriorates to a breaking point. My thought was that this breaking point will then act as a catalyst, exposing such ignorance. At which point consciousness would be propelled into expansion, deliberation and change. My vision was a positive one, as I believed that humanity could create new structures and organizations. Out of these would emerge the radical solutions addressing the ecological emergency we all face. We have the knowledge to create this, but the obstacles that stand in the way are not technological. They are the attitudes, values and concepts that define the present dominance of corporate values, rampantly consolidated through “turbo-capitalism.” I argued that the necessary clarity to deal with the global environmental crises will emerge, once our thoughts, values and attitudes change and no longer sustain and feed our internal pollution. This is the radical internal climate change necessary to engage intelligently with the external climate change.

There is certainly global awareness, but also fear, about the future of Earth. The overwhelming terror of Gaia crashing down on us is unbearable. Many years ago in India I had an audience with Sai Baba. I was visiting this sage’s ashram in Andra Pradesh with an Indian friend. As he slowly walked through the morning gathering, to my utter surprise Sai Baba stopped in front of me. He spoke to me for quite a while. Somehow he knew of my commitment to environmental concerns. I remember very little of what was said, except for one sentence that blazed into my mind and stayed there. Sai Baba said to me that a transformation in human consciousness required 2% of the population to meditate on a daily basis. I have no clue about the knowledge source for his pronouncement, but I do remember vividly the “buzz” of energy in my mind and body when I heard it.

I translated this wisdom into a 2% option. If only I, and others, could encourage 2% of the people we knew to change their lifestyles to one of voluntary simplicity then the environmental crisis could be mitigated. If everybody did so, then the planet would remain habitable for all species. This would involve conserving energy usage, being aware of the effects of mindless consumerism and completing one eco-friendly action every day. This may seem naïve, but to me the 2% option was readily do-able and within the grasp of everyone. The end result of a transformed consciousness would lead to different questions being asked, with different solutions and structures created. There would be a new mindset to make the necessary decisions for change. This one statement from Sai Baba changed my thoughts about awakening.  Not everyone has to “wake up” – just 2%. This spearhead would provide a catalyst, the strategic tipping point, for an immediate change in planetary care.

To make Failsafe in Consciousness a robust concept I identified three interconnected components:

  1. Innate Earth Wisdom,
  2. Counter Culture
  3. Tipping Points in Consciousness.

We do in fact possess innate earth wisdom. Ninety-nine per cent of our evolution as a species relied on a hunting and gathering. This adaptation known as foraging, is a strategy based on sophisticated ecosystem knowledge, integrated into harvesting patterns through a spiritual understanding of the world. That is still hardwired into our brain and I thought it was simply a matter of remembering what we already possess. My anthropological logic pointed to the retrieval of this mindset in order to activate the feedback cycle needed to prevent further degradation of the global ecosystem.

The modern-day counter culture pulled together the Ecology of Ideas from Gregory Bateson, Rachel Carson’s Ecology and the fostering of Gaia as a social movement through feminists, environmentalists, and the New Age beads and incense set. This unusual coalition established a broad consensus. providing a foundation for the new science of Eco-psychology. Bateson, a prominent 20th century thinker focused on the understanding of cybernetics and ecosystems, demonstrated how our modern context has rules that need changing. He showed how ecology is a set of interconnecting feedback loops that include everything. When we destroy some of the interconnecting loops, an ecology of ideas is created that reinforces other bad ideas. Bad, that is, for the health of the ecosystem and its components.

For the corporate world, Paul Hawken’s 1993 book The Ecology of Commerce led the charge of re-evaluating commerce and redesigning finance capital. The wisdom of natural design is built into Hawken’s call for a restorative economy, which an increasing number of manufacturers are implementing. This has prompted the emergence of a genuine environmental capitalism as opposed to the corporate “green-washing” that pervaded the 1992 Rio conference. Some corporations appear to be subtly changing despite the knowledge that shareholder interests come first. The new discourse in business uses terms such as sustainability, civic duty and corporate citizenship in annual reports and press releases. This new language form can be “gimmicky,” making it difficult to distinguish between the fake and the genuine. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is here to stay. It is now a component of globalization, endorsed by successive World Economic Forums held in Davos, Switzerland.

The present “buzz” about CSR paints corporations as protectors of Mother Earth. In many cases the green-washing public relations exercise provides a totally unearned image for corporations. Yet it cannot be dismissed as mere smoke and mirrors, as there is substance here. But could these initiatives be too little, too late?  They are signs of change. Rock stars, government initiatives in Scandinavia, ground up responses from municipalities in the United States, green energy companies, climate crusaders in the corporate world, citizens’ willingness to change lifestyles – all taken together indicate that the tide could be turning. But can it penetrate the corporatization of our value system and therefore on the fate of our planet?

The restructuring of capitalism requires that social capital and community sustainability become just as important as profits. There needs to be an ethical structure of profit, providing a new direction for globalization. The present structure has caused so much destruction to the planet and its populations, so structures and mindsets are required to eliminate the control exercised by international finance capitalists. There will be no post environment economy for them to exploit! The mental shift to bring this about seems to be happening worldwide. Over two million groups, NGOs and foundations worldwide are addressing the issues of sustainability, ecology and climate change in a comprehensive manner. There is a natural mixing of social and environmental justice with peace issues, and global grassroots activism is restoring the earth’s capacity to endure. At the same time this social movement refreshes our own capacities to endure and change, as we are all intricately and intimately a part of Gaia’s ecosystem.

An immense global response by citizens will certainly elicit an equally massive government and corporate reply, 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 green ideology embedded in everything we produce and market is a means to bridge competing agendas. Our dependence on fossil fuels could reduce 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 massive support from government and corporate leaders to initiate the second industrial revolution. Absolutely necessary to blunt the impact of climate change, it is a global industrial project that governments and corporations can bring about, supporting citizens. Climate change has certainly entered public consciousness but 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 society to make this happen. Our future existence, and the existence of other species on Earth, depends on making a new beginning for all of us.

Tipping points in consciousness are about achieving a critical mass for radical change. Research clearly demonstrates we are not necessarily stuck with present mindsets, although it takes extensive and diligent internal work. Just as there are tipping points in the external ecology of Gaia, so must there be tipping points in the internal ecology of consciousness. Recent studies that use sophisticated MRI scans on the brains of Buddhist monks in meditation, demonstrate that long-term meditation practice rewired the chemical and physical structure of the brain.  As a consequence, the rewiring promoted attitudinal changes in the direction of balance, harmony and happiness. New neurons and synapses are generated as a consequence of meditative processes activating memory functions in the brain. It is clear that meditation retrains the mind by changing our brain structure so that behaviorally we transform. These recent novelties of scientific collaboration provide good news. We are not necessarily stuck with the mind state that has created a devastated and discriminating world. This obvious conclusion is both encouraging and exciting.

This brings me to The Age of Stupid as a watershed film.  You will not be the same after you have seen it. It is impossible not to be moved. I refer the reader to Failsafe’s Appendix I: Simple Steps to Empowerment, which provides an action plan for the global ecological emergency. The steps are:

  1. Take Action
  2. Get Up Close And Personal
  3. Reduce Your Ecological Footprint
  4. Guidelines for Business and the Workplace
  5. The “Big” Picture for The Future
  6. Science and Diversity
  7. Environmental Organizations
  8. Warning to Governments

If only we can get it right and get it right now!

The hopeful trajectory is that our diligent mindful engagement will change our brain structures to permit new paradigms of behavior to come into form. As cells in the ecosystem of Gaia it is as though humanity has aligned their neuronal networks with principles of ecosystem balance, ethics and responsibility. The critical mass has arrived and it amounts to a collective tipping point for our species. Once the negative mind is reined in then clarity and compassion able to provide the basis for how we can exist with the planet and with one another in a totally new way. This is what could happen if we “Begin It Now,”- the concluding words to Failsafe: Saving the Earth From Ourselves.

The right conditions have been created by our choice to cultivate different patterns within our minds. Thus consciousness expansion can no longer be held back as a radical internal climate change has taken place. We interconnect with a vast counter culture that, together, is no longer a minority. We become another light shining in the quiet revolution that has over two million organizations world-wide pursuing constructive change.

The Second Fork: A Failed Genetic Experiment

I underestimated, however, the lure and power of the second fork. Should a failsafe in consciousness prove to be unfounded, we are then faced with the likelihood that humanity is a failed genetic experiment. If we continue to turn our beautiful rivers into sewers, it is obvious that there is no place on Earth to support our present civilization. That too will join the trash heap collectively created by ignorant generations of humanity. If our collective consciousness is too slow to change to a culture of sustainability then there are drastic consequences to contemplate, which are starkly portrayed in the film mentioned above. Imagine an ancient ecologist on Mars studying a million years of earth history would note a parasitic infestation on Planet Earth that was not very intelligent. An intelligent parasite would ensure the good health of the host that supports it. And so the Martian biologist would factor in an inevitable elimination date for our species in her star-date log and may well view our civilization as a failed genetic experiment.

We may have to accept it as a potential reality staring at us from the very near future. Our present values and patterns of consumption are the architects of the present global ecological emergency and we remain ignorant of interconnectedness of the world. We are, in fact, our environment. It is our collective habits, thoughts and patterns that have created a flimsy, uncertain future for our species. Every authoritative body on the planet provides dire warnings to humanity about the effects of climate change. We have fixated on external climate change searchng for technological fixes. Yet climate change is merely the symptom and outcome of a maladaptive human mindset.  It is clear that our current non-sustainable energy and economic systems are not working. However, policy makers who rush to find alternatives to fossil fuels do so without addressing the root causes of the problem. Pathological consumerism is the major behavioral manifestation of industrial civilization.

Because of all the warning signals, however, allow me to be starkly realistic. If the failsafe in consciousness does not kick in, the field is open for James Lovelock’s conclusions to take root. But perhaps after all the Arctic Circle may not be such a bad evolutionary staging point, as digital records, carefully preserved as archaeological relics, could provide clear guidelines for future civilizations to conduct themselves more appropriately with respect to the Earth Mother.

I conclude this essay with Dave Hampton’s passionate thoughts about this film (Resurgence May/June 2009: 66). “The Age of Stupid is not just a film that could change the course of humanity. I hope it will be the catalyst that gives us a second chance to create a sustainable future. I hope it will promote a mass collective awakening globally so that we are not stupid and that we choose life and reclaim our children’s birthright, the right to expect a future.” I have fourteen grandchildren. In the same vein as this film I wrote Failsafe: Saving the Earth From Ourselvesto provide hope and an action plan so that my grandchildren can enjoy a habitable planet. Should the adversity of Climate Change overwhelm humanity – then a different question arises. What will we choose as a paradigm of behavior?

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

 

A Steward of Gaia.

  • Jana Begovic, Author of “Poisonous Whispers”

 

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

 

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

Ripple felt on all shores

Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement

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

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

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

More on Mindful Engagement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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