Category Archives: Gun Control

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

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 

Our World is Burning – Even More Reviews

Barbara A. White, M

  • Barbara White
  • Ian writes with a monastic lyricism that is disarmingly invigorating, and ideologically and pragmatically (that is the point) empowering. Ian is a “meme” catcher, a “meme weaver” of cross–cultural and pan-generational challenges and continuities. Like Franklin with his fabled key on a high flying kite, Ian is standing in the rain capturing lightning bolts. Gird yourself! Our World is Burning is a lightning bolt and it will singe your Western incredulity and cynicism.
  • Michael B. Macdonald, Film-maker, Associate Professor at MacEwan University

I was introduced to Ian Prattis when he was founding Friends for Peace. I was deeply engaged in a personal struggle to articulate a way of living that was committed to ant-oppression, anti-war and anti-inequality. Ian helped me understand that fighting against injustices needs to be built around the cultivation of new ways of being, being together and being on the planet. I began to learn about the importance of consciousness in the struggle to want less, want peace, love. Ian’s vision is complex and important. His ideas are rich and rewarding if you take the time to sit thoughtfully with them. Ian is committed to changing the world, and unlike those who may wait for a new world to come, Ian has developed practices to bring a new world into being. My hope is that this book will be read widely, and ideally, in community.

  • 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. 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. 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.

  • Tonya Pomerantz, Creator of Puddle Jump Coaching

Ian Prattis’ essays on mindful engagement are a crucial read.  Open, honest, down-to-earth and authentic, Prattis shares his stories of family and community. His style of writing is inviting; welcoming the reader on a global journey filled with love, compassion and growth. The reader embarks on a magnificent ride; one full of reflection, a strong support system and above all, mindfulness. I felt inspired after reading these essays. This book should be read by government officials and policy makers. His writing is accessible, not overpowering. We want to continue reading and being part of Prattis’ world. This collection of essays is a gift to the global community.

 

  • Ginette D’Aoust-Castonguay, Wellness Facilitator

After reading this rich collection of essays all conveying pragmatic life lessons, I found Our World Is Burning: Essays on Mindful Engagement to be a profound yet comprehensive guide. It is capable of igniting a spark deep within us as well as inspiring the reader to be present and step up to the challenge.

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 a 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

Our World is Burning – Back Cover Reviews.

 

  • Allan Green, Spiritual Facilitator

I have eternal admiration for the wisdom, abilities and vision of Ian Prattis, amazed by his continuous supply of such great works. Our World is Burning is so poignant and necessary for the state of our world. This new book celebrates one of the great visionaries of our times.

  • Dawn James, Conscious Living Advocate

This new book from Ian Prattis provides a conscious-raising framework for responsible living. Our World is Burning also challenges one to become a leader for change instead of a passive bystander. For this personal transformation to occur we must examine our values, our behaviours and our consumption patterns. One of the aspects that I love about Our World is Burning is Ian’s ability to describe our global crisis through different lenses, including political, environmental, cultural, economics and consciousness. This book shows us thought-provoking evidence that we are, in fact, our environment and therefore we are responsible to change it.

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

Our World is Burning is an inspiring and informative read. As the title suggests, we are living in challenging and perilous times. 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.

  • Susan Taylor Meehan, Author of “Maggie’s Choice.”

Our World is Burning is both a cry from the heart and a call to action. In clear, compelling prose, Dr. Ian Prattis, Zen teacher, ecologist and peace activist, outlines the urgent challenge of climate change and the prevailing attitudes that have enabled it to threaten life on planet Earth. He writes movingly of his own journey towards enlightenment to illustrate his basic thesis: that we cannot heal our planet until we heal ourselves. Drawing from the wisdom of Indian gurus, First Nations shamans, Buddhist teachers and activists, and the probing questions of his own grandchildren, Dr. Prattis shows that we need to undergo a radical transformation of the mind if we are to respond to our burning world. His call to action is for every individual to take up the challenge in mindfulness, love and compassion, and to build the kind of world that nourishes and sustains us all.

 

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; or 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

 

 

Guidelines to reconstruct our World.

I am preparing a collection of essays – “Our World is Burning” for publication in 2017. Essay Fifteen is pertinent today.

Essay Fifteen: Guidelines to Reconstruct our World

The life support systems of the planet are severely threatened by Climate Change, aided by the accelerating greed, materialism and waste of the current global paradigm. Our ignorance and neglect are destroying the Earth, because we do not know how to behave in an aware manner with respect to ourselves, to others, and to the planet. Unless we radically change there is no possibility of balance, environmentally or socially. There is no remedy without establishing universal environmental ethics. This was my thinking while I was preparing for my Ecology and Culture course on TV at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I wanted to connect the dots of the many levels of violence and fear we engage with. The environment certainly, but also the everyday use of harmful speech, harmful consumption and all the way up to acts of terrorism. We need to dig out the causes of how violence to the earth and ourselves is nurtured worldwide.

We live in a world framed by fear, hatred, terror, revenge and uncertainty. These derivatives of human experience are no strangers to our consciousness yet we remain ill equipped to reconstruct the world we live in. We desperately need guidelines. The not so hidden agenda remains “What do we do about neglect, indifference, violence and terror?” I show that with ethical guidelines rooted in spiritual practice, we do not generate the energy that enables terror and violence to grow. From our everyday situation to the present climate of fear, hatred and vengeance, I demonstrate that it is all of the same nature. We just have to learn how to behave differently. Radical retraining is evidently in order, as we must change before a brave new world can become a reality.

These issues were examined with great clarity by the awakened mind of the Buddha, 2600 years ago. His teachings are timeless, as relevant to the modern world as when first spoken. The Buddha taught the Five Mindfulness Trainings as a design for living. Thich Nhat Hanh reworked them to be in sync with modern realities. They are non-sectarian and all spiritual traditions have their equivalent. The first training is to protect life, to decrease violence in one-self, family and society. The second training is to practice social justice, generosity and not exploit other beings. The third is responsible sexual behavior to protect couples, families and children. The fourth is the practice of deep listening and loving speech to restore communication and reconcile. The fifth is about mindful consumption, to help us not bring toxins and poisons into our body or mind. Quite a formula to present to my class!

I asked students if anyone would care to read them out to their classmates during my lecture. There were many volunteers. I did wonder if this borrowing from Buddhism would go over well with students and the viewing audience. Much to my surprise students and the public viewers wrote in to tell me that this was a wake-up call, the first time they had been presented with environmental ethics. Let me be clear – the trainings are not there for us to be in judgment of others, to bludgeon people with a misplaced self-righteousness. They are an internal compass so that as individuals we wake up to love and compassion and take heed of the directions the Mindfulness Trainings guide us to. The trainings are not a coercive design for conformity. They simply assist us to be more aware of what is going on, around and within us. They enable us to distinguish that which is good for ourselves, our minds and the world and that which is not. It is not necessary to be perfect in the practice as that is not possible. But it is possible to move in the direction of responsible and ethical living and make a difference to our society and environment. The options are: Do we bring to violence, indifference and terror a renewed application of the same? Or do we step back and consider these teachings?

We created the present situation, yet there is a way to transform our creation. The politicians, corporate moguls and terrorists making the decisions that presently shape our world do not have awakened minds. Their minds are scarred, filled with ignorance, their hearts held hostage to corporate and electoral agendas. They all follow the same script, seeking similar justifications to advocate the use of violence. Trapped in history and hate they offer no means of re-creating our world. The Buddha does. The implications of his Five Mindfulness Trainings apply fully to the dangerous times we live in. Our world needs guidelines like these to live by. The Trainings provide explicit guidelines that resonate fully within other religious traditions.

The flip side to global violence is the growing concern about the absence of love, decency and compassion in daily and public life, in schools, at work, in the healing professions and in the world at large. This preoccupies and worries many citizens and scholars at the present time.  If there was ever a time to learn anew from these teachings, it is now. The awakened mind of the Buddha is there in the Five Mindfulness Trainings and it is not just a property of the Buddha’s consciousness. It is the potential state of our own mind. When we touch base with the Five Mindfulness Trainings the same aspect of mind in ourselves is being reminded to wake up. Neglect, terror and fear are states of mind. Therefore we need tools that reconnect us to a mind state not driven by such factors.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are presented as an antidote to the contemporary crises and devastation we have created through ignorance and neglect. The deep malaise in society is making us ill, so preventive medicine is necessary, so that we may become whole and regain our health and balance. The ethics of the Five Mindfulness Trainings provide the necessary balance to come home to our true nature, while caring for all we interconnect. Before trying to address social and environmental crises, the building of inner spiritual strength through meditation and mindfulness is crucial.

FIRST MINDFULNESS TRAINING – Reverence For Life

 Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

            Allow me to break it down. Each training begins with Aware of the suffering caused by …  “Aware” means that I am mindful of suffering. I am aware that when life is destroyed mindlessly, suffering ensues. As I grow more aware, I begin to take refuge in the awakened aspect of my mind. The First Mindfulness Training addresses suffering caused by physical violence. When we become aware of that, we take steps to diminish the source of that suffering. We can choose to be vegetarian. We do not give our approval to violence carried out by the state, but we have to take care, first of all, of the violence that rests in our own minds. Our concerns manifest in what we do, say, and think. Body, Speech and Mind provide three locations for our action. Of these three, Mind is the most difficult one to deal with, as the task is to learn ways of practicing non-violence in our minds.

I am committed to cultivating interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. The notion of “learning ways” indicates that we do not know it all, that we make mistakes and do not do things perfectly. Yet we make a commitment to find ways to do things better, as we take responsibility for all that we interconnect with on the planet. The first training is about compassion, of cultivating the ability to transform suffering. The energy of compassion is born from insight and experience, not from the intellect or external decree. We know that our compassion includes the ecosystem. To protect human life we must protect the life of ecosystems. If the environment is destroyed, humans will be destroyed. It is taken further in the stricture not to support killing, even in our minds. To find the way to transform the wars and killing within our thoughts, we must learn how to be internally peaceful. As peace and environmental activists, if we have not taken care of this and continue to work out of anger or despair, then we will never succeed. The change and healing begins with the individual. From there it can extend to society and the environment.

When we practice mindfulness through walking meditation or conscious breathing, then we practice peace. When we reduce the internal wars compassion is born. With understanding and insight we learn the ways to express it. The practice of mindfulness is the ground from which we touch the suffering in the world and from there we act with clarity and understanding.

SECOND MINDFULNESS TRAINING – True Happiness

 Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others: and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help others reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and mitigate the process of global warming.

In our commitment to cultivate loving kindness, we learn ways not to exploit. We learn to share more and to consume less. A most difficult thing to share is our time. We will often give money to support a worthy cause, yet rarely do we share time. We attribute not having time to causes and conditions that lie outside of ourselves; job, family, housework, political activities and so on. Yet being polluted by time is a condition that lies entirely within our own minds. We forget to practice mindfulness, and rarely can we even enjoy a cup of tea. I remember with some nostalgia having tea with my Scottish grandmother. It was a carefully observed ritual, with the best china and attention to detail. It was a wonderful opportunity to slow down and really be with each other. Contrast this with the hasty cup of coffee first thing in the morning, as we watch the news, feed the children and hit the highway. It is no wonder that by the time we get to work, we are tied up into tight knots. This is a direct effect of pollution by time.

On those occasions when we allow ourselves to be present and truly share our time, there is a memory of joy, because it stands out from all other experiences of life.  I remember several years ago shopping at Starbucks to buy some decaffeinated coffee. An elderly lady was in front of me, being served by the assistant manager. She asked him about the taste and quality of the different kinds of coffee beans. As there were no other customers apart from myself, the assistant manager took the time to explain the difference between French Roast, Kenyan and Columbian coffee beans in terms of growing conditions and taste. He was very knowledgeable and I received quite an education. Finally he asked: “Madam, what would you like?” To which the elderly lady hesitatingly replied, “Do you have any of that Tim Horton’s coffee?” (Tim Horton’s is a competing franchise to Starbuck’s.) Smiling broadly, the young man said that they did not stock it, but as things were not too busy he would drive her to the nearest Tim Horton’s. He shared time, and made my day (and the elderly lady’s) with the joy that emanated from him being totally present. I have never forgotten this small act of loving kindness, and I am sure his customer remembers it with similar feelings of joy.

This training is about generosity. It is about the opposite end of the spectrum from exploitation, oppression, social injustice and stealing. These attributes have many faces and constitute a form of theft that kills us slowly. In the Second Mindfulness Training the emphasis is on loving kindness, expressed through generosity. There are three kinds of gifts of generosity. First of all the gift of material resources, second the gift of helping people to stand on their own feet through the gift of wise teachings, and third the gift of fearlessness. The third gift is very important, as so many people are motivated by the fear of not surviving. Fear corrupts and degrades, yet is a pressing reality in the minds of so many global citizens. To help those in the grip of fear, we bring the gift and benefits of our loving kindness, of our own fearlessness. We can encourage people to feel safe by being fully present with them. This may be something they rarely experience. Fearlessness in our example helps friends in difficulty and pain.

Thich Nhat Hanh poses a direct question about the Second Mindfulness Training:

Is your nation practicing this?  Or in the name of development or growth, is your nation or are your lawmakers violating it, exploiting other nations, trying to make them into a market, monopolizing them, profiting from their manpower and natural resources in order to win the heart of their own country and its people?

The Second Mindfulness Training is a profound practice, as it generates larger and more encompassing groups of people in communities, cities and nations to engage with global realities of systemic breakdown.

THIRD MINDFULNESS TRAINING – True Love

 Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that the body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness, which are the four basic elements of true love, for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

             This training is about healing the negative consequences of sexual misconduct. In contemporary society love is often misunderstood; attachment is substituted for friendship and the sex industry for relationship. It is no surprise that subsequent actions lack responsibility. Authentic love calls for understanding, responsibility and respect, whereby our sexuality reflects a wider mosaic of joyful communion between body and spirit. The key term in this training is responsibility. Because we are responsible for the well being of so many people, we make the choice to refrain from sexual misconduct. In sexual relationship, as many of us know and have experienced, we can become deeply hurt and devastated. This training protects us, and others, from being wounded. Loneliness, advertising and the sex industry provide a powerful inducement for misconduct, which has destructive consequences for all concerned in the sexual abuse of children. On a daily basis the imagery of the sex industry is presented to our senses through advertising, the media, internet, pornography and films. The producers of this material may claim freedom of expression, but it is really a lack of responsibility. It influences everyone profoundly, particularly young people. This irresponsible imagery pollutes our consciousness and fosters sexual misconduct, destroying self-respect and respect for the other.

We need to learn ways to protect our senses, to guard against the energy of the sex industry as it is insidiously purveyed to us on a daily basis. There is an ethical void around sexual behavior, and young people are left to experiment without clear guidance. They stumble frequently into disaster and suffering, as do their parents. That void can be filled by observance of the Third Mindfulness Training as it protects our senses and provides the means to re-establish the balance that has been lost. Meditation closes the sensory doors to external inputs and opens the doors to the heart, wherein dwells our true nature of responsibility. Once the doors to the heart are opened we are predisposed to be more responsible with our sexuality. From the awakened mind of great teachers come insights and guidelines to cultivate our own awakening. The Third Mindfulness Training is such a guideline. It helps us to know our own mind, to see habit energies and addictions for what they are, and guide us to become aware of the awakened mind that exists as seeds within our consciousness. This Training feeds those seeds and takes us to a place of non fear.

FOURTH MINDFULNESS TRAINING – Loving Speech and Deep Listening

 Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering within myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord, I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

             If we learn to take care of our thoughts as the actions of our Mind, then we will take care of what we say as the actions of our Speech. We pay attention and discipline our thoughts, taking greater care of what we say. This ensures that the important guidelines of the Fourth Mindfulness Training are applied. Our speech also comes from our parents, ancestors, teachers and friends. Very often something comes out of our mouth which we instantly regret and we wonder, where on earth did that come from? We are a continuation of our ancestors and teachers. We have to be aware that in addition to all their mindful qualities we have also inherited harmful habits of speech. Children are often criticized and reprimanded at mealtimes, as that was the way our parents communicated. So children consume the energy of punishment along with their food. Frequently they will cut themselves off from their bodies while eating, so it is not surprising that so many children suffer from eating disorders. Family meal times can be changed from a battlefield that produces casualties. If parents would only take the time and effort to talk about what is going right, and empower young people rather than focus on supposed faults. Mindful mealtimes can transform family life. We must learn ways to be considerate in our speech, though it takes time, understanding and awareness.

This training is about the art of deep listening and the power of compassionate speaking. In our busy modern world very few people give their time or presence to listen deeply to anyone. Yet our presence is the greatest gift we can give, especially to children, for it bridges chasms of misunderstanding and heals wounds. The reason we do not listen is simple. We have ceased to listen to our true nature, the neglected internal component of ourselves that harbors our strengths, compassion and love. As we learn to touch this island within ourselves through meditation, then we can listen to others and deeply heal them with our full presence. Our perceptions are filled with incorrect judgments and this is what is fed by a toxic conversation. We rarely listen to the other speaking to us, simply because we are not present for them. We also do not listen to significant others in our lives. We are unskillful and often harmful. On the other hand the practice of meditation does not distort what is presented and provides freedom from the prison of prejudice. And so we train with the Fourth Mindfulness Training as a guide.

I remember the magical effects of being present and listening deeply with my children, particularly as I previously had a long history with them of not doing so! To truly love our children is to be present for them. Everything is available through our full presence. Being present, listening deeply from a compassionate heart, speaking lovingly is what the Fourth Mindfulness Training is about. It provides a practical and ethical guideline about what to do with our speech, listening and presence so we can bring about transformation and healing. We learn to listen to a different internal voice that has its foundation in goodness and decency. The capacity for deep listening and loving speech lies within everyone and this training guides us to develop and use these skills to relieve suffering in others. We all know that the power of words can cause distress, yet it can also bring about joy and happiness. The Fourth Mindfulness Training guides us to be aware of how we so often place judgments into our speech, and encourages us to reflect on our perceptions before we open our mouths. With our mouths wide open for mindless speech to spill out, we condemn and criticize without understanding. Blaming does not allow understanding and compassion to enter into the picture.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training encourages us to look deeply into the habit energies so powerfully wrapped round our speech, and to take care that we prevent separation and harm from coming into the lives of families and communities. At the same time we do our best to nurture the energy of reconciliation when conflicts are created by unkind and thoughtless words. In order to practice the art of deep listening we have to retrain ourselves so that the seeds of compassion and love are nurtured. But very often we have our own scars and personal baggage, which makes deep listening and compassionate speech difficult. Never before have there been so many means to communicate with one another, yet we remain isolated because our communication is shallow and meaningless, without depth. In our communications with others, our words and energy have the power to either uplift or harm. Very often we choose to harm, and though this may provide a moment of triumph, our speech action alienates us from that consciousness which brings happiness. When we cannot listen deeply, we cannot speak kindly.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training takes us into a deep investigation of what to do with our speech and the quality of our presence. What we do is often very unwise because the environment that surrounds us encourages us to be untruthful. We may believe it is innocuous to lie under certain circumstances, the proverbial white lie. Yet some part of our mind knows our integrity is compromised. When that volume is pumped up, however, politicians, business people, the media, bureaucrats feel they have to lie in order to be successful. Our elected representatives do not usually speak mindfully, or listen to anyone. Many are mindful only of public opinion polls and their re-election. A considerable proportion of the icons from the sports, entertainment, and media domains present posture and hype rather than truth, and we know that most of them lie. This environment that encourages untruth translates into a degraded nation, world and environment. Can we not set an example for our children by speaking the truth, by coming from the heart, by demonstrating the positive effects of deep listening and compassionate speech? An antidote such as the Fourth Mindfulness Training is needed to transform and heal the basis of our communication with others. This Training is the sword to cut through the Gordian knot of lying that tangles us in webs of deceit and destruction, and guides us in the direction of integrity and trust.

FIFTH MINDFULNESS TRAINING – Nourishment and Healing        

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or any other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in such a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

This training is about the way we consume. It guides us to adopt new patterns of consumption so that our society becomes mindful and less violent. This is the necessary shift in consciousness required if we choose to actualize the Five Mindfulness Trainings in our daily lives. Then we can step more lightly on the planet and find ways to encourage people to consume mindfully and bring an end to violence. However, media, TV and advertising bombard our senses daily with violence. Indeed, we are encouraged to consume in a manner that supports a political/economic system based on greed. As long as we remain willing prisoners to this corporate ideology, we are unable to take responsibility for the world we live in and create. None of this is good for our mental and physical health. Our consciousness absorbs and is defined by all that we consume. If we continually consume toxins, violence and garbage, then it should not surprise us that this is the raw material for daily decision making. We are the sum of the nutriments we put into our beings, and to be healthy we must learn how to protect ourselves otherwise we will get sick and violent and create a sick and violent society.

Our consciousness stores everything. Deeply hidden in our mind are the addictions of our ancestors, the negativity, cruelty and discrimination throughout our species memory, our fears, hatreds and guilt. Also in our consciousness are the seeds of an enlightened mind, the Grace of God, the potential of understanding, compassion and love buried as seeds, waiting to grow. Guidelines such as the Mindfulness Trainings take us on a journey, so that the latter seeds are nurtured rather than the former. Without ethical guidelines rooted in a spiritual practice, we would suffer continuously from internal conflicts and confusion.

We can say, “This is not good for me”, or “This is not good for my children,” and then begin cultivating an alternative consumption that is good. Without mindfulness we are exposed to all kinds of energy-sucking elements that activate and indulge the seeds of violence, hatred, anger, terror and despair; all of which drain us of life force. As we begin to understand the effects of these energies feeding our worst attributes of mind, then we can stop. With insight we can cut off the energies that are damaging us. The Mindfulness Trainings provide the key. If we know what the nutriments are that feed our ill-being, particularly the potential state of violence within us, we can make the conscious decision to cut off the feeder supplies. Replace them with nutriments that support us moving in the direction of compassion and responsible ethical living. Remember, it is the ethical void in our lives that supports violence in daily expression of who we think they are.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training guides us out of this prison with a clear commitment to consume mindfully and thereby create a different kind of society, one that is responsible to ancestors and future generations. The issue of responsibility is the key to this training. because we interconnect with and affect everything. We must realize that lack of responsibility to the environment, ancestors and future generations, creates a very dangerous situation. If we do not choose to consume mindfully then we will destroy our world. We need to go on a diet of mindfulness for all aspects of our life, society and environment. It is possible to move in the direction of responsible and ethical living. This is what mindfulness practice is for. This is the hope and the remedy for violence in our society, in our children and on our planet.

We must deliberately cultivate the positive attributes in our minds and shine the light of recognition and mindfulness on our suffering, so that we can become steady and full of resolve to live differently. The Five Mindfulness Trainings provide us with a template to do exactly that, as we consciously choose to nurture patterns of behavior and habits that are wholesome and generous. In other words we make mindfulness practice our new habit! This is the only way to unravel the insidious internal knots caused by generations of ancestral habits, created from ignorance, vengeance and separation.  This is the work of the new revolutionary of the 21st century. It is not only a political and intellectual exercise, not only a matter of compromised treaties and cease fires. It is an internal transformation of consciousness at the core of our being.

I shape all of this this into a simple personal mantra: “I refrain from causing harm.” I know that by refraining from one thing that causes harm, I then prevent other harmful things from happening. I arrive at my own insight, which is not imposed by any outside authority. It takes mindfulness to do this and the Five Mindfulness Trainings provide the starting gate, a guidance system and a deep well of internal ethics to live by. Without them………….? I choose not to go there, as my commitment is to actualize these trainings in my life, and in the lives of others, to the best of my ability. That is my dance.

 

Walking with Sand Hill Cranes at Fish Lake

Walking with Sand Hill Cranes at Fish Lake

I offered 10 days of mindfulness practice in November to the Fish Lake Sangha in Orlando, Florida. Imagine my surprise to be greeted at the lakeside by Sand Hill Cranes who honked every time I started a dharma talk! They are wonderful creatures, totally unafraid of the two legged walking with them and taking photographs.

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On the first Saturday we greeted the morning and the cranes with Zen Practice. Zen Practice has a very practical nature – Chop Wood, Carry Water – and being aware of precisely doing so. The cultural origins from China and Japan do not necessarily travel well to western countries, so I have adapted the form somewhat and kept the essence. We listen to the bell calling us back to our true selves for guidance, listen to our breathing and through the discipline of this practice we settle into a deep calm and harmony with everything around and within is.  The simplicity and elegance of silence. The cadence of sitting with breathing in and out, the flow of walking with breath – in and out, the joy of stretching with breath in and out. Then repeat the entire cadence three times. The silence deepens as we settle gently into the quality of our mind. Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do.

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The first dharma talk to the community was on the topic of Righteous Anger. All such conflicts require the active and intentional cultivation of Zen Mind to navigate the pitfalls of hatred, distraction, violence, past wounds. We deal with the fundamental pollution – in the human mind. Making the world better requires that we make our minds better. The task is to make our thinking better. Navigate more skillfully. The Four Brahmaviharas meditation is a good tool, all children’s songs an effective antidote. Foundation Practices and the Two Arrows teaching.

A recent protest in Antigonish, N.S. supporting Gaza produced yelling hate, violence and anger. There was a woman standing apart with a list in one hand and purple chalk in her other hand. She was carefully and quietly writing down on the edge of the sidewalk of Main Street, Antigonish, N.S. the names and ages of every child killed in the Gaza bombardment.  My question to you is: Which protest do you think had the most impact?

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During the week there was a session of qi-gong with Carolyn and a Transmission Ceremony of the Five Mindfulness Trainings – a step into living the Bodhisattva Path.  When I invited the 5 aspirants to come to the front and offer bows to the three gems, they spontaneously held hands and bowed together. Very sweet, a great omen for what they will bring to the sangha.

Carolyn and Ian at the transmission ceremony

The day of mindfulness on the final Sunday began with silent meditation and the 2nd dharma talk, Collapse and the Bodhisattva. I spoke about the breakdown of Industrial Growth Society. Staring into the abyss. No limits, no maturity. From Columbine to Newton, CT – the killers are pre-adult males with mental illness – the immaturity of the Carry Movement – NOT defense of 2nd amendment rights. The solution – STOP; RE-ASSESS; ENTER THE BODHISATTVA – NOW with interbeing and non-discrimination.  Shantideva’s unwavering encouragement from the 8th century. Buddha Mind. “Ego” is very disappointed with Awakening – so let us all disappoint the ego. I finished the talk by reading the Hopi Prophecy of 2008.

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Carolyn led everyone through a qi-gong session prior to a Silent Lunch ushered in with the Five Contemplations before eating. The next edible item was chocolate meditation which followed walking meditation outside by the lakeside.  Carolyn spoke about the causes and conditions that brought the wrapped chocolate to each hand and the vast population it had touched before landing. The dharma discussion was on a very weighty topic – How can Mindfulness be addressed to the crisis with ISIL? This was very challenging. The final session was a Q & A before the closing ceremony and good byes.

During the days prior to leaving for home, Carolyn and I cycled ten miles each day to the Café de Paris, owned by a French family. It was interesting that our ten mile bike ride was past a series of gated communities. An omen of the times we are in, but do not have to be part of.

 

More Dead Children

The media and government in Canada have largely covered up the factors of mental health and drug addiction in the recent shooting of a soldier on Parliament Hill. The cover up gives a false sense of security to our mental health services, which are woefully inadequate. This same lack is shared by our neighbor to the south, which requires that I return to the very serious reality of more dead children.

The shock waves from the 1999 high school shootings in Littleton, Colorado and the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, CT, swept across North America and touched every community.  As those shock waves recede, the greatest danger is public distance from taking responsibility for the toxic environments we have created.  The specter of children shooting children in high schools shocked me very deeply.  After several days of silence and meditation after Columbine, I wrote a short essay titled “Yes It Can Happen Here” that looked deeply into the causes of the shootings.

I wrote about the ready availability of guns and drugs.  When this combines with lack of time spent with young people by parents, teachers and community leaders, then the consumption of violence by our children through the media, video games and the internet can lead to the deadly carnage of high school shoot-outs.  Many of our children have become exiles.  They experience “not love”, “not connected.”  Nobody hears their voice, and we have largely forgotten how to listen to them.  Many children have found a third parent 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 cyberspace and Hollywood have to offer.   In the absence of a stable identity, there is a drive to achieve instant fame through acts of notoriety and violence.

Twenty years later after the massacre in Newton, CT, I wrote about Dead Children. Twenty children gunned down at an elementary school. Children killed as collateral damage in Gaza, Israel, Syria, Congo, Afghanistan and in world-wide violence. We are all grieving parents to the world. The question we all face 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. STOP: REASSESS: ENTER THE BODHISATTVA.

Stopping requires calling in the support of wise friends, counselors and community so we can begin to see clearly and give ourselves the chance to find ourselves. Stillness is needed, not social media distraction – for we now have to look for a new direction and leadership. To reassess the 21st century, we must look deeply at the factors involved in the shootings. We will see a complex, intertwined tapestry with the easy availability of guns and drugs, compounded by societal tolerance of violence through the worst that cyberspace and Hollywood have to offer. Plus the very serious common denominator shared by the killers stretching back to the Columbine massacre. This is the factor of mental illness in predominantly pre-adult white males who are caught in an identity trap that they escape from through violence and murder. This is their 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 mental health system and our mindfulness.  How do we begin?

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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 deeply transform ourselves and our civilization. We nurture this paradigm by cultivating two aspects that lie dormant within us. The first aspect is Interbeing – knowing that we interconnect with everything – the earth, oceans, forests and mountains, all species and most of all – with all people. Interbeing 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, once they manifest from within us, open pathways and bridges to build a better world.

How do we do this? We cultivate the energies of transformation – Mindfulness, Concentration and Insight. Always – at every opportunity we bring Interbeing 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 – here and now. We are not intimidated by present crises. We are certainly shocked and hurt by such circumstances but are in fact 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 – but we are equal to the task.

My Manifesto: 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 and violence.  My body and mind exist for future generations therefore I must be aware of what I put into them.  We must also exercise care and responsibility over what we allow into the minds and bodies of our children, to prevent murders from happening in our schools.  Furthermore, this care and responsibility is to prevent young people turning their consumption of violence in on themselves – in the form of suicide.  We must take steps to fill the ethical void, give our children the benefits of our full presence and learn to listen deeply to them so that positive steps are taken to eliminate murders taking place in our schools.

Peace

Deep Silence

Deep Silence

In the Silence

I heard my own voice

The sound was deafening.                                                      Teresa Hernandez

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My journey through meditation has often been clumsy and ineffective until I stumbled across where I had to go.  It was into Silence.  Deep Silence and stillness amidst the chaos and noise of the world I lived in.  I could truly look deeply into the dark areas that held hostage my mental formations of an unwholesome nature.  Over the past decades I have built more and more silence into everyday life.  On a daily basis I stop, look deeply and dialogue with the feminine seeds in my consciousness – a practice received from my Native American medicine teachers. I listen deeply in the silence to the communications from the wholesome attributes of feminine wisdom within me to address issues and questions.  There were some tangible benefits.

 

High School Murders and the Post 9/11 World

After the murders at Columbine High School in Colorado I put this practice of silence to good use.  Firstly, to prevent myself from being overwhelmed and secondly, to provide guidance and solace.  The spectre of children shooting children in high schools shocked me very deeply.  I was offended by the carnage and angry at society for creating the 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, for I was not in the appropriate space to give counsel to anyone.  I had to find a bedrock of understanding and compassion before I could communicate anything worthwhile.  After several days of silence and meditation I wrote an essay in one piece titled “Yes, It Can Happen Here.”  It provided understanding and guidelines about what to do.  It was directed to parents, teachers and children and was sent far and wide across North America and later to Germany and Scandinavia.  Steps of mindfulness in terms of specific meditation practices to deal with grief, anger and hatred were provided in addition to a clear understanding of what had brought events to this particular state.  I felt it was a necessary priority to provide protective measures for our children.

 

I now speak of my meditation practice after 9/11.  When I learned about the extent of the horror, I went into a deep silence and practiced deep looking to generate calm and clarity, to try and understand.  It was not easy, as there was so much disbelief, shock and outrage within me which only silence could take care of.  It took a great deal of walking meditation, being aware of the feelings that arose and using conscious breath to acknowledge and take care of the strong feelings.  I slowed down with meditation and came to a stop, looked deeply and touched the well of understanding that would have been inaccessible if I did not diligently meditate at this time of crisis.  I wanted to understand, to grasp the roots of suffering, so that anything I might say or do could act to alleviate such suffering – my own and everyone else’s.  From that place my 2002 book was written – The Essential Spiral: Ecology and Consciousness After 9/11.  It was born from the benefits of silence so that I could provide insights for the wider community.  I do see clearly and this is thanks to the many years of silence, mindfulness practice and meditation in times of crisis, as well as in times of peace and happiness.  My response to 9/11 was guided from silence by the actively cultivated energy of compassion.  I do not pretend that this was easy.  It was not, but it was the only thing I could do to generate lucidity.

The Essential Spiral: Ecology and Consciousness After 9/11 – $2.99

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006ZBQ0W0

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Newton, CT

I want to talk to you about children who are no longer here. They are dead. Twenty children gunned down at an elementary school in Newton, CT. Children killed as collateral damage in Gaza, Israel, Syria, Congo, Afghanistan and in world-wide violence. We are all grieving parents to the world. The question we all face 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. STOP IN SILENCE: REASSESS: ENTER THE BODHISATTVA. Stopping requires calling in the support of wise friends, counselors and Sangha so we can begin to see clearly and give ourselves the chance to find ourselves. Stillness and silence is needed, not social media distraction – for we now have to look for a new direction and leadership. To reassess the 21st century, we must look deeply at the factors involved in the Newton, CT massacre. We will see a complex, intertwined tapestry with the easy availability of guns and drugs, compounded by societal tolerance of violence through the worst that cyberspace and Hollywood have to offer. Plus the very serious common denominator shared by the killers stretching back to the Columbine massacre. This is the factor of mental illness in pre-adult white males who are caught in an identity trap that they escape from through violence and murder. This is their 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 mindfulness.  How do we begin?

 

In Silence.