Category Archives: India

Sacred Stalker

In 2014 I wrote a book: “Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse.” I was asked to write a speech from the perspective of what the writing meant to me. Here it is. Available through http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html 

Sacred Stalker                                                                                     

 Several decades ago I became aware that I had a stalker. I would glance over my shoulder and feel a distinct presence. The presence was a woman from the 18th century. This was made known to me by a shaman mentor – White Eagle Woman – who made it clear that I was mistaken. This was no stalker. The female entity from the past was a medicine woman from the American Southwest. She was trying to bring powerful medicine gifts through to me in the 21st century, but I had not learned how to release my logical and intellectual mind, and certainly did not possess the wisdom to receive. She had a name – Trailing Sky Six Feathers.

Over time my stubborn resistance was no match for her determination. I ultimately surrendered to this Muse. I learned that I had died in her arms in 1777 and she swore to find me in the future to complete my purpose. Through her insistence I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. She refused to give up on how dense I was and through her insistence, karma was reversed, the internal battles ceased and I learned to navigate past and present life experiences over four centuries.

The medicine gifts received from Trailing Sky during dream visions and shamanic journeys required that I nurture skills within me to use them wisely. I eventually remembered a clear mosaic of experiences stretching back to 1777. Past life memories collide head on with the present. The relentless shadowing by this Muse brought understanding and purpose to overcome the darkness of my past.

How did this all come about?

Many years ago when I was a young professor at Carleton University, I split my time between Ottawa and the Hebrides in Scotland. I was trying to create an academic career and at the same time save a failing marriage. I was not doing a good job with either. I had a boat – a 26 foot clinker built vessel with an inboard engine to enter the dangerous surrounding sea with tourists on board. I must have been really insane or totally desperate – perhaps both! One disastrous journey sears my mind. It was from Eriskay, to the north, back to my home on the Island of Barra. An unanticipated storm and dense fog quickly blew up to gale force winds. Disaster loomed from every option that was available to my mind. I stood braced at the wheel of this small craft with four tourists huddled on board. Fear was no longer guiding me, as I muttered the 23rd Psalm – “I shall not want.” I remember a terrible chilling silence come over me along with utter helplessness. The boat navigated through a narrow gap in an offshore rock spur, and the wheel spinned to avoid the sharp spine of another rock ledge.

I did not have that knowledge. I did not have that skill. They were not my hands on the wheel – something else had taken over as the boat slowly limped into the sheltered harbour after dark. I disembarked and walked to my house. I sat on the steps, as the storm ceased its fury and a crescent moon came out from the clouds. My reflections on the day were savage, yielding ugly truths I had long buried. I could take no credit for bringing the boat home safely. I thought of the furious sea as a piercing dirty grey, the color of dying – just waiting for me. I knew I had to put an end to my recklessness on the sea and in life. This was not where I was to be; either in this relationship I was trying to save or the location. The stressful drain on time and energy to travel back and forth between Canada and the Hebrides was debilitating. It left me with zero energy for my life purpose. Instead I was choosing the graceless oblivion that alcohol and depression permit.

I knew I had to emerge from the swamp I had created. This deadly sea voyage was the signal for me to embark on an intense spiritual journey. They were not my hands on the wheel. It took me a long time to realize that it was none other than Trailing Sky who saved my life at that instance – and on many other occasions.

It was no accident that on my return to Canada after the brutal sea voyage I first met White Eagle Woman at an elders gathering. She beckoned me over, looked me right in the eye and told me that she did not like me at all. Quite an introduction! She had been instructed by her ancestors to train me and it began straight away with an eight day vision quest. Her blunt introduction was a prelude to a thirty year period of training and healing under her guidance. She became a spiritual mentor and directed the shamanic process of my healing from childhood sexual abuse. This allowed the mosaic of the past to reveal itself. She also identified Trailing Sky for me and then taught me how to create a medicine wheel in my mind with a circle at the sacred centre. That was the location where I could dialog with Trailing Sky.

I also met a Rishi – a holy man from India who recognized me and insisted I go to India for spiritual training. I took leave from my university and spent two years as a yogi, where the spiritual treasures of India were opened to me. I also became seriously ill and knew there was a distinct possibility of death. I met this with calm and a total lack of fear. Huddled on a bed in an ashram in Mumbai, India – I opened my eyes to see one of my swami mentors. He said:

“We are so happy Ian that you have decided to die with us in India. And we will be most happy should you live.”

Lying there close to death, the lack of fear provided a sense of freedom. Trailing Sky was also there – constantly. She orchestrated all the energies to keep me alive. I later learned that she was there every time my life was at risk. That must have kept her very busy!! She brought me through to safety – time after time.

Trailing Sky is not an illusion, a projection that I am attached to. She is the ultimate Muse, constituting all that is now crystal clear within me. I am deeply humbled and privileged to touch this deep wisdom of transformation.

She said to me, “You have transformed all that you brought in with you and suffered from, You changed course and now have freedom and alignment. The person who stumbled blindly through the first part of your life is not the Ian walking through the second part of life. In India, Arizona, France, the Canadian wilderness and around the world you went to extraordinary lengths to deal with karma. Had you not done so – I would have to wait for several more lifetimes to come through to you. There were so many severe experiences, but you responded by moving in this spiritual direction. You touched a universal thread and that allowed me to close the gap – so I could keep my promise from 1777.”

The rest of my life is still a work in progress

 

Essay 12: Shattering of Concepts

I am convinced that awareness of the impact of Climate Change is not enough. Awareness requires to be rooted in a spiritual tradition that honors the Earth Mother. Then action will ensue to mitigate and better anticipate Global Climate Change. Kindness, graciousness and discernment take the place of greed, corruption and neglect. In this collection of essays – Our World is Burning – I refer to this personal necessity in Essay 9: Healing Journeys, Essay 12: Shattering of Concepts and Essay 15: Guidelines to Reconstruct our World. I reveal my own spiritual training and place Essay 12 in this blog.

Essay Twelve: Shattering of Concepts

 Huddled on a bed in an ashram in Mumbai, India, I opened my eyes to see a visiting Swami sitting beside me. The small ashram was reserved for saints and holy men. I did not qualify for either category but felt their grace close at hand. One tangible and humorous manifestation of that grace was this visiting Swami beside my bed. He smiled broadly and helped me to sit up, then surprised me with his words:

“We are so happy Ian that you have decided to die with us in India. And we will be most happy should you live.

He just beamed love and understanding to me. My reply as best I remember was to smile back and just say, “Me too!” The Swami made me some tea with herbs, provided a blessing and then left. When I went to sleep that night I felt very calm about letting go of my bodily existence. I knew that the experiences of joy and freedom flooding through me at this time were dissolving my many mistakes and bodily pain. I felt truly like me, very peaceful, no longer a maverick standing alone. Lying close to death, the lack of fear provided a sense of freedom and strength.

I had been invited for guru training in India by Rishi Prabhakar after meeting with him several times in Canada. He recognized something that I certainly did not. This adventure proved to be new territory for me. I had traveled to India in 1996 to teach and train in Siddha Samadhi Yoga. This Vedic tradition  was ecumenical in character, a wisdom tradition totally relevant to the modern day. By November of 1996 I had become seriously ill in India. As I observed my bodily systems crashing one by one I knew there was a distinct possibility of death. To this day I am still amazed by my calmness and lack of fear. While in India I was privileged to have many treasures of wisdom made available to me.  There were two circumstances that opened so many doors. One rested on Thich Nhat Hanh’s book of meditations, The Blooming of a Lotus. Before leaving for India in 1996, at the last moment I picked up this book and placed it in my backpack. As I observed in November and December of 1996  my body’s systems crashing one by one I knew this was serious. My companion for this passage with death was Master Hanh’s book of meditations. I was astonished by my calmness and hope to find a similar equanimity for death’s next visit.

In my family and culture there is very little discussion or clarity about death and dying, though as a child I had an intuitive understanding. I remember when my grandfather died when I was a small boy. I felt him as a tangible presence even when he was in his coffin and quietly whispered to this gracious, gentle being: “Go to Heaven now grandpa.” I also remember at his wake how upset I became by my relatives drinking, arguing and being disrespectful to one another. In tears I sought out my grandmother and complained that everyone was making it hard for my grandpa to go to Heaven. She wiped my tears away with her handkerchief and listened carefully to me before walking into the living room of her house. With quiet authority she asked everyone to be quiet and to go home. It was much later in life, once I was exposed to Buddhist teachings on death and dying, that I realized I was not such a crazy kid after all. I had cared for my grandfather’s consciousness after his physical death. From that turning point I knew clearly that preparation for death was also training for life, though I did not always pay close attention to this insight.

The opportunity for liberation at the time of death was an intriguing notion. I could see that my obstacles of ego and habitual patterns of behavior were in the way of a sound preparation. I did want to merge my consciousness at the time of death with what the Sufis call “The Great Magnificence.”  Or if I got confused or fearful, to be able to receive guidance to do so. From my understanding of the Tibetan bardos I felt that if my death was an aware one, then in the bardo of “becoming” my consciousness would take a form that would serve all sentient beings. That struck a recycling chord, which appealed to the ecologist in me! The retraining of my mind was done fitfully, not in a consistent manner, until just before I left for India to take up the life of a yogi. There the preparation became a daily practice of being aware of universal consciousness totally prepared to merge with my pitifully weak and not-so-awakened mind. My leap of faith was that understandings about death and dying were all in the mind. This meant that in everyday living I could use my mind to take steps to prepare for that final moment of merging with the wisdom mind of the universe and just perhaps be able to do this while I was alive. Perhaps the “alive” piece of the puzzle is the whole point!

Still, I was surprised by my lack of panic in the face of death. As December drew towards its close I totally surrendered. I will always remember Saturday, December 21, 1996. On that day I let go of all attachments to my body and surrendered to a sense of freedom never before experienced. Throughout the day and evening I read The Blooming of a Lotus from cover to cover, practicing meditations that spoke to me. I felt at one with all my spiritual ancestors. I felt Thich Nhat Hanh’s wisdom, love and gentleness as a tangible presence watching over me. The meditations in The Blooming of a Lotus carried me over many thresholds, some of which I was aware of at the time, most, however, I did not discern their significance until much later. The meditations took me deeply into my roots of being and I felt very calm about the impermanence of bodily existence. My heart opened very wide and I thought about my many mistakes and chose not to deny them or brush aside the bodily pain. I knew that the experiences of joy and freedom flooding through me were dissolving both. During this whole period of time I felt very simple, that I was living properly. I was without panic, present with whatever was happening or arising. I did not fear death. It just did not compute. This lack of fear gave me a sense of freedom and strength. It opened a huge door to send love and joy to all. I felt truly like me, very peaceful, not pulled in any direction. Despite all that was going on I was solidly with each second of time in a totally timeless way. Whatever gifts, skills and energies I could contribute to bring joy and love to others was there to freely share. That is the only manner in which I can describe what was happening. I finally understood the significance of the Buddha’s Five Remembrances Meditation:

  1. Knowing I will get old, I breathe in. Getting old

Knowing I cannot escape old age,

I breathe out.                                               No escape

  1. Knowing I will get sick, I breathe in. Getting sick

Knowing I cannot escape sickness,

I breathe out.                                               No escape

  1. Knowing I will die, I breathe in. Dying

Knowing I cannot escape death,

I breathe out.                                               No escape

  1. Knowing that one day I will lose

all I hold dear today,  I breathe in,              Losing what I hold dear

Knowing I cannot escape losing

all I hold dear today,  I breathe out. No escape

  1. Knowing that my actions are my

only belongings, I breathe in.                      Actions true belongings

Knowing that I cannot escape the

consequences of my actions, I breathe out. No escape from consequences

  1. Determined to live my days mindfully

in the present moment, I breathe in. Living mindfully

Experiencing the joy and the benefit of

living mindfully, I breathe out.                    Experiencing benefits and joy

  1. Offering joy and love each day to my

loved ones, I breathe in.                              Offering love

    Easing the pain and suffering of my
    loved ones, I breathe out.                            Easing suffering

 

By looking into these major fears I personally experienced all of them. It made exquisite sense and carried me into a state of non-fear. There was nothing overlooked or pushed to one side. My mind was very clear. The Five Remembrances were not located in the depths of my consciousness. They were my existential reality. I neither welcomed them in nor rejected them. They were just there, my own personal gang of five. There was no internal battleground or struggle. To be with myself at this time, happy and content with the existing moment, was all that I had. And it was enough.

I smiled quietly at the first five stanzas guiding me to let go and was totally refreshed by the last two stanzas about living my days deeply in mindfulness and offering love and joy to loved ones to alleviate their suffering. I felt the universal nature of this wonderful benediction for both living and dying. The Five Remembrances brought my attention to impermanence; on growing old, getting sick, dying, losing loved ones, and realizing that my only possessions are the consequences of my actions. The final two stanzas of the meditation show the way; to live mindfully in each moment and offer joy to loved ones. As I practiced this meditation I felt that each moment of life was absolutely precious. Somehow I was communicating this to all that I connected with. Before I slept that night I felt my teachers and guides throughout lifetimes gathering together inside and around me, without boundaries. They stayed there while I slept. I was content and happy.

The next morning, to my surprise and joy I woke up. Over the next six months I slowly recovered my health.   Friends in North America who tune in to me very closely had in December booked airline tickets to take me out of India to recover in their home. I was touched by their love, but gently said “No” after thanking my friends for their loving concern. Whatever the outcome of this particular journey, it was to be in India. I had written countless Christmas cards to friends and loved ones all over the world and signed them: “Blessings and Love from Ian”. That is what I wanted to send out before my death. Then I lived, and was happy that the cards were sent.

The second circumstance that opened so many doors had to do with the shattering of my concepts on an almost daily basis. I would have perceptions and judgments about a situation, person or event and would rapidly discover that my perceptions were without foundation. I allowed my concepts to shatter. They were replaced by further perceptions and judgments. But I allowed them to also shatter. I felt a depth not previously known. This is something I call upon when perceptions and judgments crowd into my consciousness. This willingness not to hold on to concepts or to even hold on to being with my body put me into a different orbit. In this orbit, doors opened wide that otherwise would not have opened. I felt unseen hands guiding me through a stupendous year of initiations, mind training and transformations. I felt very privileged to receive the wisdom traditions of India.

Yet how difficult I made it for myself, with self-doubt, struggles of purification and stringent endeavors to get it right. It was actually so much simpler than that. It is to just be present with what is there. My happiness and delight came through Being with humanity, the planet and the universe, and Serving the same with joy. Yet I did get caught at times in the process of struggle and purification. Then for no apparent reason the veils of illusion dropped away. A natural, overflowing delight in Being and Serving arose spontaneously. I know I can never be as I was, nor do I wish to. I am simply grateful for all the gifts of transformation received. I also wonder about sharing these deeply personal experiences. I do not hold on to them and simply observe their effects on particular steps I took to tame my wild mind. The sharing is to illustrate that my approach to life comes about through experience, crises, difficulties and joys that may have common ground with many readers. That if I can take steps along the spiritual path then 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 am vegetarian, well mostly, and live very simply as a planetary  activist. So are there seeds of anger in my consciousness after all of this process? Are they still there? Of course they are. It is simply incumbent upon me to take care of them when they arise, to surround them with mindfulness and transform their potential to cause harm. It is my job to ensure that I am not overwhelmed by their energy, that I embrace the seeds of anger with the tools and practices I have received from my teachers. I observe how seeds of anger manifest in my thoughts and know that my thoughts are capable of doing damage to myself and to others.  But my practice has changed somewhat over the past three decades. It is not so much a focus on anger and violence but an observation of the tricks of ego.

My daily practice now is to observe how my ego attaches to specific mental formations in order to take my consciousness into separation and illusion. That is the job of the ego. It cannot do anything else except attach to negative mental formations and drive them to distort and manipulate in order to separate me from my true nature. When I catch this happening in a train of thought and I do not always catch it, but when I do I say:

Hello my dear ego. Are you here again? Are you not tired of attaching to these old mental formations that you have used so often before? Why don’t you come and have a rest? Why not rest in the consciousness of my heart?

The ego really has no answer to this. That is what I do when I catch a train of thought filtered through anger and ego. I am not always successful in catching it, but when I do I feel happy, really good, as the excesses of my wild mind are not translating into actions that can cause harm.

While in India I also undertook two twenty eight day retreats, six months apart. They were the high points that the rest of my training built up to. My cultural and religious background was not the same as my two cohorts, yet the experiences we shared were remarkably similar. I would observe my mental states, compare them with reports from my peers, and then discuss them with the Swami overseeing the training. Prior to the training retreats I had months of preparation with attention to specific meditations, dietary regime and sexual abstinence. I learned how to chant the Gayatri Mantra and co-ordinate it with the four components of breath: inhalation, holding the air inside, exhalation, holding the emptiness. There was a mathematical precision in tone, pitch and resonance of the mantra, as it was exactly co-ordinated with the different components of breath and hand movements over the body. It was complex and overwhelming. I frequently wondered if I would ever get it right but benefited enormously from the encouragement of my cohorts who were determined that I not be left behind. I also had skilled and patient teachers who made the effort to transmit this oral tradition, thousands of years old, to a westerner not used to this form of education.

The second training period in a different part of India, Karnataka as opposed to Andra Pradesh, was with a new cohort made up of experienced meditation teachers and exceptional gurus. With this powerful group of beings the sunset ceremony was conducted by running water to deepen the silence, stillness and penetration of the mantra. The chanting of the Gayatri took place with all of us standing up to our waists in the water. When it came to the point of suspending thought and allowing the Gayatri to arise spontaneously, to my total astonishment it did just that. At the same time I could feel and identify the particles of mud between my toes, see minute electrons in the air and look down on my wisdom buddies from a great height. I felt encompassed by the evening sky and at the same time I encompassed the sunset, the evening sky and everything beyond it. This experience was repeated with varying intensity during every sunset rendition of the Gayatri Mantra. I never felt it necessary to communicate this to the Swami or to members of my second cohort. I went into total silence and do not recall talking to anyone, as everyone very carefully left me there.

In my diaries I recorded my experiences in poetry and art, a totally inadequate exposition for something that cannot be fully expressed in either. I persist with this inadequacy, through words, to convey some semblance of the experience. Before I took my leave from the ashram the Swami asked to speak to me. He described my experiences in complete, precise detail and arranged a parting ceremony, an initiation to acknowledge the grace of a guru now recognized with the name bestowed upon me: Prem Chaytania. My wisdom buddies were delighted by this. Training with Gayatri had major life changing effects, not the least being that I became a better and more skillful teacher, both to meditation and university students.

What I can say from personal experience is that once my wild mind was reined in, clarity and compassion were suddenly there in greater compass. This provided a different basis for how to be with the planet and others in a new way. This partial account of my journey in India is to demonstrate that my activism for peace, planetary care and social justice now come from a different place as a result of the internal work. Steadiness, clarity and compassion are there rather than ego posturing from the lunatic fringe. Though there was a “rush” from the latter, I prefer the still-point, uncolored by the excess of ego and desire for kudos-seeking. 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 in a way of creating bridges and pathways of harmony that make sense. As for the rest of my life, that it is still a work in progress!

 

Screenwriter’s Hollywood Treatment for Trailing Sky Six Feathers

Hollywood Treatment Date: 7/14/14. I was stunned to receive this document. The screenwriter had seen deeply into the work and took it up a level. The cinematic vision was incredible and wove the cinematic expression into something more than the writing permitted. I was humbled and inspired by the craft.

Title: Trailing Sky Six Feathers
Author: Ian Prattis
Treatment By: R.J. Welch

Mission Statement:
Trailing Sky Six Feathers by Ian Prattis is the tremendous story of Ian’s modern day spiritual awakening and discovery of his past life as Native American Eagle Speaker during the 18th century. Only through the intervention of his spirit wife Trailing Sky is Ian able to defeat his past vices and personal struggles to become the man he is today.
It’s important to recognize the film adaptation will be “based on true events” and not a documentary or biopic. The novel’s incredible scope of events – from the 18th century Indian struggles to contemporary political movements – is fertile territory for great drama and will be adjusted and adapted to best serve the themes of the novel while creating a gripping film.
With all novel adaptations, it’s important to focus on creating a compelling beginning, middle and end that can be captured in two hours of screen time. The film treatment will condense the novel’s amazing depth of detail, life stories and lessons about politics, anima, Gaia, Buddhism, and much more to create a linear filmic narrative.
In the novel, the first chapters set in the 18th century will now be interspersed throughout the rest of the narrative, mirroring challenges Ian faces, culminating in his death in the 18th century and his discovery of his true self and relationship with Trailing Sky in the modern day.
Additionally, like other real life film adaptations, characters and events will be condensed, combined or expanded to serve the narrative of the story. The Native American sequences will be expanded considerably while Ian’s contemporary life will be streamlined to highlight certain important events.
Overall, Trailing Sky Six Feathers by Ian Prattis can be an excellent and exciting film with a unique Native American spiritual angle rarely seen on screen.

Cathedral Rock

Logline:
A Canadian professor struggles with the realization his life is guided by the spirit of his dead Native American wife.

Treatment:
ENGLISH COAST — IAN PRATTIS, mid 30’s, takes a swig of beer as he steers a BOAT
off the coast. With him are his two young children IAIN and ALEXANDER and his WIFE. Other PASSENGERS are with them, Ian is giving a boat tour of the bay.
His wife says they should head back to shore, the weather is getting bad. But Ian isn’t in the mood to hear it, he wants to stay out longer, tempting fate, pushing his wife away because he’s drunk and hates being told what to do.
The SHORE radios over, saying a storm is coming. Ian sees CLOUDS forming on the horizon, FLASHES of lightning and –

Cut to the Great Plains of America, the 1800s. And a Native American Village complete with tents and horses. TRAILING SKY, a beautiful woman, sits with her husband, the strong and stoic EAGLE SPEAKER outside of their lodging. Trailing Sky breaks out of a trance — she says a storm is coming. She has had a vision of violence and destruction. She doesn’t understand it, only that they must pack up immediately if they’re going to survive.

Back with Ian on the boat, the STORM hits them hard, waves crashing over the bow. Ian knows he’s made a terrible mistake. The radio chirps to life, the MAN on the other end saying they’re going to be in for a rough ride. At the shore, they turn on all the house lights, one by one, to help the distressed boat find its way. Ian hears that there’s only one path that they can use to get back to the safety of the bay. But it’s surrounded by rocks. If Ian can’t navigate perfectly, they’ll all die. Ian looks at his wife and children and prays for help.

With Trailing Sky, she awakens from a trance – her husband says they’re under attack! APACHE WARRIORS are burning the village, killing the men and kidnapping the women. Trailing Sky, praying to her sky gods and ancestors for strength, goes into a trance, says she’ll save her husband.
Ian on the boat hears the voice of Trailing Sky saying “I’ll guide us to safety” – he looks around, but doesn’t understand it. Is he going crazy?
But he steers the boat forward, as if possessed, and navigates through huge rocks and hidden shoals to safety. They arrive at the dock and the VILLAGERS are there, saying it’s a miracle. Ian docks the boat and everyone departs thankful to be alive. Alone on the boat, Ian looks around – who was that woman who spoke to him?

Back to the attack, Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker, as if guided by a magic hand, are able to sneak past the attacking Apaches, ducking behind bushes and rocks until they’re out of the encampment.
Eagle Speaker asks her how she did that. She says it’s the power of their ancestors and the medicine woman strength. She felt as if she was guiding her husband to safety, but through a watery world. She doesn’t know why she sees this, only that she knew if she didn’t save him from the crashing waves, she’d have lost him forever.
Now safe on a bluff, they look back on their village and see families escaping, apaches chasing them down. The village is burning. Their only path is forward into the unknown wilderness.

Ian finds himself in a bar celebrating his brilliant sailing skills. The BARTENDER lines up a dozen shots for him. Ian downs them all, but confesses he was stupid, getting caught in the storm was his fault. And he’s not some brilliant sailor, something happened he doesn’t understand. Regardless, he decides to drown his questions is whiskey.
He arrives home drunk to find his wife waiting for him. His two sons are asleep. But she says it’s over, she knows he nearly killed them all. She’s leaving him. He needs to clean up his act, otherwise he’ll drink himself to death. She says he needs a new beginning and he knows she’s right.

Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker arrive at a cave in the mountains. Trailing Sky says the spirits have guided them here and this is where they’ll make their new beginning. Eagle Speaker says he trusts his wife’s spiritual powers.

Ian arrives in Ottawa, Canada with nothing but a solitary suitcase and an invite to the university. Cut to Ian teaching a night class, but his heart isn’t into it. It’s a new beginning, but is this really where he belongs? He says to himself he needs a sign.
After class, he leaves the university and sees a bar. He wants to go in but he hears a VOICE, female, telling him to go a different direction.

Back with Trailing Sky, she awakens from a trance – she’s panicked, Eagle Speaker is in danger! Cut to Eagle Speaker hunting a deer. He sneaks through the brush after the deer, but doesn’t see three APACHE SCOUTS hunting him.
An apache raises his bow to fire but – thwack – the apache is killed, an arrow sticking out of his neck. Eagle Speaker looks up and sees Trailing Sky holding the bow. She aims as the other two apaches attack Eagle Speaker. She fires, killing the second apache, and Eagle Speaker uses his axe to fight the last apache, killing him.

After the battle, Eagle Speaker asks how Trailing Sky knew he was in danger. She says the spirits spoke to her. But there’s dangers out there greater than the apache. He must be guided in the right way to find true happiness.

Ian follows the haunting female voice through the forest until he comes to a lodge. There’s chanting and firelight shining through the doorway. He goes inside and finds SPIRITUAL ELDERS holding a ceremony.
Ian hangs back, watching the amazing rituals. One older WOMAN in particular draws his attention. This is WHITE EAGLE WOMAN. Ian is lost in the dancing fire light and chanting, FLASHES of Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker taking over his mind. He makes eye contact with the woman before he passes out.

Back at the cave, Eagle Speaker and Trailing Sky see a WOMAN approaching. They recognize her outfit, know she’s one of their neighboring clans. They greet her and she says her name is LONG WILLOW. Her family was killed by the apaches, but she’s had a vision she must help the man who speaks with eagles to build a new village.
Trailing Sky says she had a vision Long Willow would join them. The man who speaks with eagles is Eagle Speaker. Willow says she will help him on his journey.

Ian awakes to find White Eagle Woman kneeling over him. It’s morning and Ian passed out on the floor of the lodge. She helps him to his feet and leads him outside where they find a golden eagle flying high above, circling them. White Eagle Woman says she’s never seen a golden eagle do that, it’s a sign. Who is he to receive such a powerful sign? He says he’s just a professor and has no idea how he got to the lodge last night.
White Eagle Woman says he needs to open his mind to the ancient spirits. He says he doesn’t like the voices, they’re bizarre, and it’s beyond his understanding. She says that a golden eagle has spoken to him, he’s chosen for great things.

Light Beam at the centre of the Medicine Wheel

The Native Americans leave their cave behind and start on their journey to the river encampment where they hope they’ll find more of their people. Long Willow says she’ll stay with Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker forever, she won’t remarry, their goal is too important for her to start a new family. They accept her into their family as they trek onto the open plain.

Meanwhile, Ian is told by White Eagle Woman he needs to go on a self-discovery journey. It’ll be hard, but it’ll help connect him with the spirits he’s been hearing. He meets RISHI PRABHAKAR, a mystic, who invites him to India.
Cut to Ian arriving in India. Ian takes cabs through CROWDS of people to a shrine. There, he finds HUNDREDS of people have come to experience awakenings. Ian talks with Rishi and learns of his customs and how to awaken his inner spirits.

Back with Trailing Sky, she leads them over a bluff to see FAMILIES setting up camp near a river. They recognize the families, these are survivors from the apache attacks. They sit together and thank their ancestors for bringing them together again.
But Trailing Sky has a vision – sickness is coming, she worries her powers won’t be able to save Eagle Speaker.

With Ian, he’s become sick. He worries he’s going to die and receives phone calls from his friends, this could be it for him. But Rishi says this is only an awakening. Rishi does a ceremony and Ian falls into a dream state.
In the dream state, Ian sees Trailing Sky who lays her hand on his cheek. The sickness immediately fades away. Ian asks who she is, but she says he’s not ready to know because he’s not ready to believe. She disappears as he wakes up to find the sickness has lifted. Rishi recognizes that Ian has had a profound experience but Ian still doesn’t know what all this means. Ian returns home and meets with White Eagle Woman to meditate on these developments.

Meanwhile, Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker have set up their new home at the river village. Around the great fire, the families speak of starting a better society, one where they can protect against the apache. Eagle Speaker is angry about the apache, wants to go on the offensive and kill them all.
But Trailing Sky says he needs to let go of his anger. There are demons inside of him that have tormented him. Until he can overcome his demons, he’ll never be the great leader he’s destined to be.

Back with Ian, White Eagle Woman does a ceremony to unlock the demons sealed inside him. In a dream state, Ian is visited by his dead AUNT who reveals Ian was molested as a boy by a relative. She apologizes for not stopping it before, knows Ian buried this knowledge deep down. It was an attack, a violation, one that can never be undone.
But if Ian doesn’t let go of the hate, he’ll never be able to discover his true self and move on. Ian awakens and tells White Eagle Woman what happened. She says he’s moving closer and says he needs to go on a solitary retreat. There, he will meet his next guide.
Ian drives into the Canadian Rockies, well beyond civilization, to a cabin. There, Ian meditates, looking out over the great expanse of forest. A medicine circle sits outside the cabin. The circle calls to him, it’s powerful, ancient power is enshrined here.
Ian closes his eyes but when he opens them again, a TIMBER WOLF has appeared. Ian stands, scared of the creature. But the wolf comes to him and licks his hand. Ian then gives the wolf an offering of food, which the wolf accepts. The wolf then paces around the cabin, motioning for Ian to follow him. Ian goes into the forest and —

Cut to Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker run through the forest, Trailing Sky ahead of her husband. They’re having fun, a moment of levity.
With Ian, he runs with the wolf through the forest. The wolf leads him over streams and up rock paths.
Back with Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker, they embrace and fall into a soft patch of grass and begin making love.
Ian and the wolf finally reach a rock outcropping high above the forest line. Ian sits, looks out over the incredible view, untouched by man. He has quick visions of Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker making love. He cries, the moment so pure and beautiful.
Later, the wolf rides in the back of Ian’s car as he returns to his home. Ian stops at a restaurant to get food and meets CAROLYN who takes an immediate interest in the wolf. He tells her the truth about meeting the wolf. He thinks she’s going to think he’s crazy, but she believes him. She holds her hand out to the wolf who licks her, approving of this new woman. Ian can’t help but take it as a sign.
Cut to Carolyn moving in with Ian. Ian is surprised by his son Iain, now an adult, has come to live in Canada. His son tells him that his other son Alexander is in a bad way in Glasgow, Scotland. Ian knows he must do something otherwise he’ll lose Alexander.

Meanwhile, Trailing Sky and Eagle Speaker welcome their DAUGHTER into the world. They hold a ceremony to the now HUNDREDS of members of their new society. Eagle Speaker has been elected the leader. As they burn offerings to the spirits to welcome in their daughter, they receive news from a SCOUT – the apaches are preparing for war.

Ian lands in Scotland and goes to find his son. ALEXANDER, early 20’s, is living at a place called the “Punk Palace” – a home filled with DRUG DEALERS, burned out MUSICIANS and more. Ian finds his son has been beaten up and is in a really bad way. Worse, Alexander owes drug dealers money or he’s going to get killed.

Back with Trailing Sky, she and Long Willow train WOMEN how to fight. The women are determined to defend their homes and families. Eagle Speaker works with the men to prepare a strategy against the apache invaders. It’s going to be a bloody battle.

Ian says he’ll pay off Alexander’s debts if his son joins him in meditation. They go on a walk and learn walking meditation, practicing their breathing. Then, they jump a fence into a private park and meditate together, father and son. Alexander is coming around, the drug withdrawal eased by the meditation. But Ian has a vision of APACHE WARRIORS.

The apache warriors approach the river settlement. Like last time, they think the village will be an easy victory. They see weak men, children and women for the taking.
But as they rush the village, Trailing Sky leads an attack – arrows fly out of the trees and kill scores of apaches. Eagle Speaker leads hand-to-hand fighting against the apaches. One apache is able to get into the village and grabs a woman, only to find the woman has a knife and stabs him to death.

Meanwhile, Ian and Alexander finish their meditation and return to the Punk Palace. There, DRUG DEALERS are waiting for Alexander. And this time they’re going to do more than beat him up.
Ian sits with the dealers and offers to pay Alexander’s debts. Moreover, Ian wants to make sure the drug dealers never come after his son again. The thugs don’t like being told what to do, but Ian’s genuine conviction convinces them to let Alexander move on.

Back with Eagle Speaker, he walks over the dead bodies of defeated apaches. The APACHE LEADER meets with Eagle Speaker. The apache thinks he’s going to be killed, but Eagle Speaker shows him compassion. He says the apache aren’t welcome here unless they come to trade. If they want war, Eagle Speaker’s people will defeat them again and again. The apache agrees to peace and leaves.

Ian bids farewell to Alexander who is on his path to recovery. Alexander says he’s going to keep meditating and he’s done with drugs forever. Ian is glad he’s finally been able to connect with his son, the guilt of being a distant father in the grip of alcohol has been weighing on him. But now, he sees Alexander is going to turn out just fine.

Later, Eagle Speaker celebrates with Trailing Sky and the rest of the village. They’ve secured their peace in the world. But Trailing Sky is worried, she’s had spirit visions and something bad is coming for Eagle Speaker.
Meanwhile, Ian and Carolyn are on a journey to Arizona. Ian has had a vision of something important in the Arizona desert he must discover. Ian doesn’t know what he’s looking for, but he and Carolyn get in a rental car and start driving.

Eagle Speaker tells Trailing Sky he must go on his own journey now. Eagle Speaker gets on his horse and leaves Trailing Sky behind.

Ian and Carolyn arrive at a national monument called Rainbow Bridge. The bridge is a natural rock formation hundreds of feet high spanning a river. All alone at the bridge, Ian and Carolyn walk towards the formation. Ian reaches out and touches the rock and receives a shock –
Eagle Speaker rides until he sees EUROPEAN SETTLERS in a wagon train. He’s curious about these people, rides up close. At the same time, Trailing Sky awakens from a vision. She knows Eagle Speaker is in danger. She gets on her horse and rides off.

Ian now climbs up on the bridge as the sky darkens and a thunderstorm begins, raining hail down on them.

Eagle Speaker looks to the sky and sees storm clouds. At his feet is a European blanket. He picks it up and it begins to hail. Eagle Speaker COUGHS —

Carolyn calls out to Ian, they need to leave! But Ian is in a trance. The hail falls in a perfect circle around him.
Trailing Sky rides as fast as she can and sees the Rainbow Bridge before her.
Ian looks up and sees the vision of Trailing Sky walking towards him on the bridge. He reaches out his hand and, as he does, he’s superimposed over the body of Eagle Speaker, dying on the bridge.
Eagle Speaker says he’s sick and dying rapidly. Trailing Sky says she can call on the spirits to heal him, but he says his mission in life is complete, he’s found a home for their people and defended them against the Apaches.
Trailing Sky cries as Eagle Speaker’s life fades away. But she says, “I will find you, my husband. I will find you,” as he dies. He says he knows she will and closes his eyes.

Ian awakens to find the hail storm has ended. And before him is Trailing Sky, like a spiritual vision. She says she’s found her husband again and she’s been with Ian for his whole life, watching over him and protecting him.
Trailing Sky takes Ian’s hand. This is a union over two hundred years in the making. Finally, she says, she can be with Eagle Speaker forever, now reincarnated as Ian. Trailing Sky turns into a BEAM OF LIGHT and enters Ian, as if his soul and the soul of Trailing Sky combine inside of him.
Later, Ian walks down the Rainbow Bridge. Carolyn is glowing and understands completely as Ian takes her hand, the circle is complete. They walk away framed by the sun shining through the majestic arch of the Rainbow Bridge.

DCF 1.0

TRAILING SKY SIX FEATHERS: NOW AVAILABLE

My 2008 book Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves was dedicated to Trailing Sky Six Feathers, a South West Native American medicine woman from the 18th century. My new book is her story and how her life and mine interconnect in the 21st century through a journey that spans four centuries. The collision of past with present lives creates a radical new compass to guide me through the difficult times we live in.

I am grateful to the many hearts and minds that helped me complete this lifework. Trailing Sky Six Feathers illuminates issues that will affect our world for generations to come. This hero’s journey is like Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy; shining light on the darkest elements of the human condition, including my own.
For Autographed Version GO TO: http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html Click on ORDER BOOK. Check out Overview, The Author, Chapter Summaries, Chapter Three, Testimonials and Blog. You can also Order Book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Xlibris for Hardcover, Softcover and E-Book.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

Option B: From the Publisher
XLIBRIS: For Hardcover, Softcover and E-Book
http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000915195/TRAILING-SKY-SIX-FEATHERS.aspx
Option C: From Amazon and Barnes & Noble
AMAZON: Hardcover and Softcover
http://www.amazon.com/Trailing-Sky-Six-Feathers-Journey/dp/1493196790/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400002916&sr=1-2&keywords=TRAILING+SKY+SIX+FEATHERS
KINDLE E Book: http://www.amazon.com/TRAILING-SKY-SIX-FEATHERS-Journey-ebook/dp/B00JV06FFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400087917&sr=1-1&keywords=TRAILING+SKY+SIX+FEATHERS
BARNES AND NOBLE: Hardcover and Softcover
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trailing-sky-six-feathers-ian-prattis/1119281452?ean=9781493196791
NOOK E Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trailing-sky-six-feathers-ian-prattis/1119281452?ean=9781493196777

Here is the publisher’s Overview:
The author is a Zen teacher, Poet, Professor Emeritus, Founder of Friends for Peace, Spiritual Warrior for Planetary Care and Social Justice. In this book he navigates past and present life experiences from brutal raids on Indian settlements in 18th century Arizona, insane sea voyages off the Scottish Hebrides in the 20th century to surrender to The Muse in the 21st century. These screenplay epics weave together to create inspiration for a wide range of spiritual seekers, environmentalists, educators, Generation X and Y, feminists, students and academics alike.

We are staring into the abyss: climate change, ecosystem and financial collapse, nuclear breakdown, terrorism and anarchy. Instead of being eaten up by the abyss “Awaken Spiritually” for that transforms everything. Our world has become an unpredictable beast. We fail to work with it intelligently. We must take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter.

An exciting Hero’s Journey, as we follow his journey to accept The Muse capable of transforming his karma. The story has the author stumbling through the first part of life, then standing strong in his own sovereignty in the latter part. In India, Arizona, France and Canada’s wilderness, he goes to extraordinary lengths to transform four centuries of karma.
Readers will travel the pages with Ian as he learns to embrace The Muse – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – his South Western Native American wife and medicine woman in whose arms he died in 1777. Trailing Sky Six Feathers vows to find Ian (then known as Eagle Speaker) in a future time, to help him complete his purpose despite resistance from Ian’s intellectual and logical mind to remember that pledge in this lifetime.

Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary medicine people enhance his process of remembering, while Trailing Sky waits patiently from the distant past. Ian learns how to reconfigure his understanding of time, place, consciousness and even Carl Jung’s psychology, where he chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in his deep unconscious.
Readers will be inspired as they watch Ian’s intention and strength of purpose transcend the patterns he had carried since childhood. Past life memories finally collide head on with the present, all thanks to the persistence of Trailing Sky Six Feathers, who refused to give up. Karma is reversed and the internal battles are over, as Ian begins to live his life as a Meditation for Gaia. The relentless shadowing of this engaging Muse brings understanding not only to Ian, but to anyone engaged in overcoming the darkness of their past.

Trailing Sky Six Feathers caps the author’s long-term fascination with consciousness. As a Professor of Anthropology and Religion he has taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Engaged Buddhism and Meditation Systems. He is 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. Ian’s story is offered as a gift to our planet, as his purpose in life is to share his wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… earth.

In 2010, after an intense internal dialogue with his Muse, Trailing Sky Six Feathers, Ian asked her if he should write her story. There was a long silence that stretched into infinity until he finally heard her affirmation. Ian stood up and reached for his backpack and took out a writing pad. There was a gold plated fountain pen in the pack, though he used it rarely. This story had to be hand written. He inserted an ink cartridge into the pen and sat in a chair overlooking the sea and mountains on the west coast of British Columbia. Putting his pen to paper he started to write the first line of this book:
“Put down your weapons, my husband,” she said quietly with steely insistence.

Reflections on Awakening: Spiritual Relationship with Self and Mother Earth

In May 2012 I started to blog at the insistence of good friends. As I was, and still am, a bit of a techno-peasant, they very kindly showed me how to set up an account and use it. Many comments on improving the look of the blog were forthcoming and welcomed.
I blogged about my books, poetry and adventures in far off places such as India, where I received guru training.

Ian in India

I also blogged about the teachings offered to the Pine Gate Mindfulness Community http://www.ianprattis.com/PineGate/index.html and made commentaries on current issues. Oil Spills, Nelson Mandela, Dead Children, Climate Change, the senseless response to it by governments and industry, Writers Retreats, New Economic Paradigms, Friends for Peace, Vesak Day unity, Community Activism, the online journal I edit, Movie Reviews, Meditations, Cyberbullying and so on.

I really enjoyed placing excerpts from my books into posts and realized of late that the blog is also a good platform to announce events, talks and meetings. It took me a while to cotton on to that. It has been a great adventure so far. I have plans for future posts about the Collapse of the Industrial Growth Society and What Can We Do About It. This will be a take on my last two books which rest on Awakening and consciousness through centuries of maturing. Also on how my organic garden is growing and has become an epi-center for cultivating neighborhood solidarity. The beautiful fountain is a major draw to the back garden.
Stay tuned and thank you all for joining me in this great adventure.

Fountain in Garden

Death and Dying

In my family and culture there is very little discussion about death and dying, though as a child I did have an intuitive understanding. When my grandfather died I felt him as a tangible presence when he was in his coffin. I quietly whispered to this gracious being: “Go to Heaven now grandpa.” I also remember at his wake how upset I became by my relatives drinking, arguing and being disrespectful to one another. In tears I sought out my grandmother and complained that everyone was making it hard for my grandpa to go to Heaven. She listened carefully to me and wiped my tears away. Then walked into the living room of her house and with quiet authority asked everyone to go home. It was much later in life, once I was exposed to Buddhist teachings on death and dying, that I realized I was not such a crazy kid after all. I had cared for my grandfather’s consciousness after his physical death. Much later in life, I knew that preparation for death was also training for life, though I did not always pay attention to this insight.

I was intrigued by the opportunity for liberation at the time of death, though I could see clearly that my ego and habits were obstacles in the way. I did want to be able to merge my consciousness at the time of death with what the Sufis call “the great magnificence.” Or if I got confused and fearful at the time of death – to receive guidance to do so. I felt that if my death is aware, then in the final state of becoming, my consciousness would take a form that would serve Mother Earth and all sentient beings. I liked this idea of recycling – it appealed to the ecologist within me! This retraining was done fitfully, not in a consistent manner until just before I left for India. There, the preparation became a daily practice of being aware of universal consciousness totally prepared to merge with my pitifully weak and not-so-awakened-mind. My leap of faith was that these understandings about death and dying were all in my mind. This meant that in everyday living I could use my mind to take the steps to prepare for that final moment of merging with the wisdom mind of the universe and do this while I was alive. Perhaps the “alive” bit is the whole point!

Ian in India

During my training as a guru in India I became seriously ill, but was not surprised by the lack of panic. I clearly remember Saturday, December 21, 1996 as if it were yesterday. On that day I let go of all attachments to my body and surrendered to a sense of freedom never before experienced. Throughout the day and evening I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Blooming of a Lotus from cover to cover, practicing meditations that spoke to me. I was living in a small ashram in the city of Mumbai – reserved for saints and holy men. I did not qualify for either category, yet felt their grace close at hand. One humorous manifestation of that grace occurred one morning when I woke up to find a visiting Swami sitting by my bedside. He smiled broadly and helped me to sit up, then surprised me with his words: “We are all so happy that you have decided to die in India with us, if indeed you are to die. And we will be even happier if you live.” The Swami just beamed love and understanding to me. My reply, as best I remember, was to just say: “Me too!” He made me some tea with herbs, provided a blessing and then left. When I went to sleep that Saturday night I was content and happy. Diary entries chart the journey.

Thay Bowing (2)

CAROLYN’S DIARY
December 12, 1996:
Ian called. He is so sick that he can hardly talk and his voice is unrecognizable. A cold chill ran down my spine. He says he’s had surgery and that his systems are all crashing, one by one. But he’s not afraid. I believe he is not afraid of dying if that is what’s happening. What can I do? My first instinct is to go to India, to be with him, to care for him, but no, he says this is a journey he must go through alone. I am so worried. All I can do is surround him with light and love. And I pray, I pray that God will care for him, make him well and keep him safe. Dad is in the hospital dying from heart disease, two open-heart surgeries in the last month. The doctors are amazed that he is still living. I wonder if he is afraid to die. I’m being forced to look at death, my fears, at my attachments. I cry. Dad has been ill for many years and I know he will not likely survive this ordeal, but Ian. Ian is too young. His life work is not done. He still has so much to offer.

Ian speaks about the possibility of death with such calm. He’s not afraid, but I am. I don’t want to lose him. I am not prepared to let him go. Over the phone from India, Ian teaches me about no birth and no death, that we continue living in all that we touch, simply a different manifestation than our physical bodies. But this is too difficult for me to accept at the moment. I am attached. I do not want to let him go. Ian directs me to the teachings on impermanence and encourages me to meditate on the Buddha’s Five Remembrances: being of the nature to grow old, the nature to become ill, the nature to die, the nature for all things to change and knowing that we will be separated from those we hold dear and that our only true possessions are the consequences of our actions.

MY DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 20, 1996:
Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India
Feel weaker than ever this morning. Could hardly make it from my bed to the bathroom. Hope the saints who have passed through this little ashram are casting a protective eye over me. Perhaps they can cheer up Chotolal, the Nepali cook here, who has become quite anxious, especially as I have not had the energy or inclination to eat the special dishes he prepares. He is watching me write in my diary, so I will change hands and write with my left hand so he can laugh and feel less anxious about me. It worked!

Why have I become so ill? All my bodily systems have gone off line. Is there some major purification going on in my body, is there something I do not see? What lessons are there? Or are my days drawing to a close in the silence of this ashram? My blood tests from the hospital show that I am low and deficient in just about every category and the medications only make me feel worse. So many questions and worries yet they do not seem totally important. I ask them then they fade away. It is a bit strange. A few days ago, I collapsed and passed out while at dinner at Madhuma’s house. I know that she and her family would take me in, yet this saint’s refuge is where I feel most comfortable right now. The quiet and simplicity of the place speaks to me. I guess it allows me to prepare for death.
Have been in an almost constant state of meditation for weeks now. A deep quiet silence. Making entries in this diary is almost an interruption. Yesterday, Tom and Bev phoned from Tucson in the States and it was wonderful to talk to them. They sent prayers from the desert. Another friend, Barbara, from Michigan also phoned. She tunes into me very closely and was sufficiently alarmed to offer to fly to Mumbai and take me back to the States to get well in her home. Their love and care is very moving, but I know that whatever is to happen is to be here in India.

It was not easy to communicate this to Carolyn, but I do believe she understands. My prayer is that she does not suffer unduly. Have sent Chotolal to buy some cards and stamps for me. The cards are beautifully hand painted on pipal leaves with pictures of the Buddha, Krishna dancing and other such scenes. Want to make sure I finish my Christmas list. Sending Christmas cards to friends and loved ones. Feel such a calm about all this that would normally surprise the heck out of me. The calm is just there, sitting with me, just fine.
I know there is a distinct possibility I will not live beyond Christmas and want to send out a Christmas message from India:“Blessings and Love from Ian.” Writing the cards has exhausted me, but I feel satisfied and full, mission accomplished. Chotolal brought in a package of mail from Canada: letters and cards from family and friends, a framed photograph of Carolyn, my dearest friend and companion. Made me very happy, also made me cry as I thought of friends I may not see again. Yet they were strange tears, not full of sorrow or anything, just tears as I thought of loving friends.

I keep falling asleep very quietly then waking up very quietly. Sleep is like a light breeze that seems to visit now and then. Ate a little bit of dinner to allay Chotolal’s anxiety, but it is my supply of rice malt and vitamin C that is keeping me going. Chotolal placed some fruit and water on the table by my bed, then left to spend the next day with Nepali friends in another part of the city, taking my pile of Christmas cards to post. I am enjoying the silence and solitude, now that he has left. It is about nine o’clock in the evening and I am drifting off to sleep on gentle wings.

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 21, 1996:
Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India
Waking up was easy, getting up was a struggle but did that in stages. The quiet and silence inside the ashram is quite palpable and almost visible. I remembered my shamanic training with White Eagle Woman. Had a dream about her during the night, but do not recall all the details. I do remember that she told me to construct a mental medicine wheel around me and include all my spiritual ancestors. Did that and feel an incredible constellation of energies, like millions of guardian angels from everywhere.

Took some fruit and returned to my book of meditations and began to read slowly, stopping frequently to close my eyes and feel the words. Have no sense of time or space today, as each meditation seems to move me with its own measure and carry me along. Feel such a deepening in my heart, all the way inside my body. Aware that there is no fear or panic, just a simple and happy acceptance. That is all that is there. I have never experienced anything like this. Have no thought of anything and feel deeply content for no apparent reason. Is this surrender? Peace with God? No flashing lights, visitations, or visions, only a quiet surrender and being with the inevitability of it all, whatever “THAT” is.

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 22, 1996:
Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India
I woke up this morning, heard two crows saying hello from the tree outside the window. Feel so happy to be alive. Chotolal is singing in the kitchen and rattling his pots and pans, so I will celebrate this new day with a little breakfast. That will make us both very happy. A clear insight that this “death” is a spiritual one, as is the “rebirth.” I feel completely new this morning, as though I have been rewired and plugged into sockets with a bigger voltage. Part of my preparation to continue moving along the path of understanding.

Milarepa: Movie Review

I had the honour of opening the Ottawa Tibet Film Festival on March 21, at St Paul’s University in Ottawa, with a talk about the Milarepa film. Shot in the stunning Lahaul-Spiti region of Northern India next to the Tibet border, it evokes the stark beauty of the Himalayas.
Milarepa was the first Tibetan to attain liberation in a single lifetime. His life offers a provocative parallel to the cycle of violence and retribution consuming today’s modern world. We can all identify with Milarepa as a human being with flaws. The same flaws as us – and then some! This is not a story of high lamas or reincarnation of the Buddha – it portrays dharma about ordinary life, encountering the human weaknesses and adversity that provide the engine to drive us to awaken. It is a story about ordinary people who become extraordinary through their ordeals and transformation. The name Milarepa ties this together very nicely. Mila means great man, Repa means –cotton clad one. So in his dharma name – Milarepa contains the ordinary with the great.

Milarepa Photo

H.H. the Dalai Lama was reduced to tears at seeing this film about a 11th century saint, revered in Tibet as a National Hero. But one with a very dark and flawed past. Named Thopaga at birth, we see how his life is turned upside down on the death of his wealthy father. His uncle and aunt squander his inheritance and force his mother and himself into a life of poverty and destitution. In despair, anger and revenge his mother sends him to train with a master sorcerer. He excels in the dark arts, so much so that he is able to rain down a terrible storm and rock landslide on his village when his uncle and aunt are holding a marriage ceremony for their son. He kills 35 people, children, women and men. His aunt and uncle escape the carnage and send a party after him. Milarepa declares that he can kill them all and sends another rock slide their way to scatter his pursuers.

Yet he is harrowed to the bone by his deeds, the direct consequence of his anger and vengeance. The story of greed, sorcery, vengeance and murder also has redemption and awakening woven into it, the reason for the Dalai Lama to be deeply moved by the film. Milarepa from 11th century Tibet provides a vivid reflection of the tumult and agony of present times. Violence, revenge, murder, all these ingredients can be found around the world – the Middle East, Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, Thailand and North Korea to mention only a few. What Milarepa provides is proof that we can transform adversity through deep redemption and awakening. No matter how dark and demonic our mind – we can transform it. The film comes to an end at the point where Milarepa sets out to seek his teacher of a different way – Marpa the Translator who was the spiritual heir of Naropa. He endures terrible ordeals and this is the staple of the sequel film that is not yet released. Part II as it were.

In the 1990’s H.H. the Dalai Lama and Francisco Varela collaborated to bring the Mind and Life Conferences into existence. They still continue to this day. They brought advanced meditators and neuroscientists together to study the mind and consciousness. Their joint experience and research turned science on its head, as they were able to share the finding that the mind was malleable, capable of change and transformation with the application of meditation, solitude, dharma practice and deep introspection.
Marpa the Translator on meeting Milarepa demanded to see a display of his sorcery. This was done, at which point Marpa refused to teach him until he went through a series of brutal ordeals. He had Milarepa build a stone tower and then forced him to take it down – three times in succession. The fourth multi story tower he had Milarepa build still stands at Lhodrag in Tibet. All the while Marpa taunted Milarepa, referring to him as the Great Magician to constantly remind him of his past sins and the harm he had done. He pushed Milarepa to the limits of his body and mind in the intent of purifying him of his past evil deeds.

Marpa knew what he was doing, completely in accord with the much later findings of the Mind and Life conferences. He also knew that Milarepa was his spiritual heir. Milarepa tried to leave several times and then became aware that he was the author of his own misery. Marpa was unwavering in his seeming cruelty. Relentless and ruthless until he saw changes take place in Milarepa’s mind. It took twelve years, with protracted time alone in utter solitude in the Tibetan wilderness. Milarepa lived in caves and survived on eating nettles and drinking snow melt. His mind settled and at the age of 45 he entered into full awakening. He attracted followers from far and wide and taught first of all from Drakar Taso cave – the White Rock Horse Tooth cave – and then from other caves before becoming a much sought out wandering teacher.

He left an unusual legacy – the Songs of Milarepa. When asked a question from a disciple he would go very still and the answer would emerge from deep in his mind in the form of song. He would put aside their questions about devas, gods and hungry ghosts and return the listeners to a clear understanding of the dharma, and present them with the task at hand, which was their awakening – and here were the tools to do it. His songs were beautiful dharma talks laying out a clear path of emancipation for his followers. The bottom line from Milarepa was always that the path of enlightenment is open to all, no matter how dark and dreadful the past.
A disciple once asked him if he was an emanation from a past Buddha. Milarepa provided an immediate “No”– that such a notion would deprecate the monumental ordeals and suffering he had transformed to enter full awakening. Frank Sinatra has a song for Milarepa – “He Did It His Way, In His Lifetime!”

Milarepa photo 2

Ian is the Zen teacher at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community and the Founder of Friends for Peace. He gives talks and retreats around the world, though prefers to stay local to turn the tide just a little bit so that good things happen spontaneously in his home city of Ottawa.

Why Am I Writing This Book?

When I talk to folk about Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey With His Muse this is usually the first question I am asked. Here is what I reply:
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. Rumi’s wise words are cogent: “Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.” 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 right now. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to transform.
I am writing Trailing Sky Six Feathers to 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. The key to change this deep freeze is Awakening, a spiritual relationship with self and Mother Earth.

The next inevitable question is – Who would be interested in this work? I reply that there are four audiences.
The Main Audience: Spiritual Seekers
I like to consider Trailing Sky Six Feathers the real life version of James Redfield’s best-selling fictional book The Celestine Prophecy. I have nine chapters, loaded with Insights and adventure. Trailing Sky Six Feathers is drawn from my actual lived experience. Reality based information is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for this project to become a fresh, new icon for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation.

Trailing Sky Six Feathers delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. Extensive shamanic training is highlighted, as it was the instrument to overcome my childhood sexual abuse. The journey of remembering childhood wounds and past lives will draw in people searching for interior solutions. In Trailing Sky Six Feathers I show that we can transform the damage and limitations of the past and step onto a path of enlightenment for all who suffer from road blocks in the mind. People around the world are overwhelmed by distraction, fear, suffering and violence – all of which keeps them frozen in a state of inaction – deeply wounded and unable to make changes within themselves and for the planet. The inner journey that occupies this book demonstrates that we do not have to be caught by our suffering, fear and maladaptive responses to Global Warming and Violence. We can take steady steps with wise mentors to break free of the chains and liberate ourselves.

The book will also attract the attention of people interested in Shamanism, Jung, Religion, New Age, Alternative Medicine, Meditation, Consciousness, Buddhism, India, Native American Culture and Wisdom of the Elders. The Sky People who mentored Trailing Sky in medicine lore will certainly pique the interest of Trekkies, given this extra-terrestrial component of the book. Ever since the Star Trek series captured the public imagination with time/space crossovers – there is an intense interest in how past realms and dimensions impact our present reality. That is the very fabric of Trailing Sky Six Feathers and it will appeal to the large Trekkie population who may be surprised that the adventure can happen without science fiction.

Men and Feminists
In Chapter Six: Rainbow Bridge Calling, I spend time exploring maps of Central Arizona to acquaint myself with the region’s ambience. I saw that Oak Creek ran through the Red Rock country of Sedona like a thread – drawing the canyons together. My exploration began with this Water element. This was one component of the Five Great Elements in Buddhist, Taoist and Native American belief – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. I understood the sequence as the correspondence of all things to each other driven by the feminine vessel of enlightenment. I have always thought of the present millennium as the century of the daughters. Not so much as a gender separate thing, but as attributes of a holistic, nurturing presence of mind. The feminine principle is the creator of all matter including the five elements and ourselves. This is why I began my exploration of the region with Water. Oak Creek was fed by spring water from the sacred canyons and she carried their unique energies in one stream. The foundation of the book is the feminine principle with a strong, powerful female character whose task is that of tutoring male stubbornness to surrender to the Muse.
This book will be sought out by men who acknowledge the feminine principle as a staple foundation of their masculinity. The story of my resistance, then final surrender, to The Muse will strike a chord within most men and provide encouragement for their persistent engagement with the internal feminine. Feminists will applaud and readily endorse such a book. The strong characters in the book are all women and the book revolves around the difficulties for men of engaging with the internal feminine principle. The testosterone ended drive of modern society raises the prospect of our species going over the cliff into the abyss. Trailing Sky Six Feathers moves the pendulum the other way to create a balance.

Environmentalists
In Chapter Seven: The Compass Changes, my point was that in every mind there is a Failsafe that would activate when matters grew so bad that moving to a new mindset would be inevitable. I argued that the notion of innate earth wisdom, when combined with tipping points in the mind and counter culture, would be sufficient to change our collective mentality in the direction of better earth stewardship and a new spiritual paradigm. On the flip side, I am very aware of the cascading collapse of the world’s eco-systems. That our overpopulated, technologically based civilization may not adapt to a fast changing future without wrecking the environment. If we wreck the environment we are toast. I knew to look for the means to shift our mind set. I replaced the question: “Can we fix the planet?” with a deeper question: “How do we fix ourselves?” I recognized that the modern era transition from “Reverential” to “Referential” with respect to the earth had to be reversed, pointing out that our technical and economic institutions were outstripping our basic humanity.
Planetary care is woven into this book in both the 18th and 21st centuries. The Wisdom of the Elders about the spiritual connection of humans with the Earth Mother provides the template for renewal in the first three chapters. That template is taken into the 21st century with my activism for planetary care through the Friends for Peace organization I established and write about in later chapters. This consistent address of environmental issues directly appeals to the growing environmental movement that Global Warming and Climate Change has catalyzed in the 21st century.

The Younger Generation
Also in Chapter Seven: The Compass Changes, I write about my last ecology class before retiring from Carleton University in 2007. Students encouraged me to get belligerent about Climate Change and its consequences. I enlisted their brilliance and diligence with a collective focus on eco-communities – from rural communities to urban condos – and promised to get testy. This adventure into the pre-conditions for eco-communities, however, had a much bigger intent. It reflected the particular shift in mindset required to salvage the global ecosystem for human habitation. Wherever we are located on the planet – it is essential to conduct ourselves as being part of a global eco-community. Our mindset has to be focused on the reality of living as one component of Gaia’s ecosystem. An edited collection emerged from the enthusiasm, insights and sheer hard work of these students.
This mentoring exercise with brilliant ecology students produced an excellent volume, which contributed to the 2011 Earth Day Environmental Award I received at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The highlight for me, however, was not the award. It was that the majority of students in this class chose to work as environmentalists in different sectors of the Canadian economy. They cared as much as I did and that was deeply fulfilling.

When I look at the younger generation emerging into maturity, I see beyond the ipods, electronic gadgetry and attitude to the deep intelligence that yearns for something better. I love their in-your-face attitude, as that is the energy of determination that will drive them to put things into balance on the planet. They are not caught so readily by the identities and trade-offs that my generation is so good at entertaining. They are breaking down the barriers of discrimination, storming the barricades of separation. I have only one thing to ask of them. That they slow down for a moment and hold out their hand. For as long as I have a spark in this mind and breath in this body I say to them: “Wait for me, because I am going with you.”
Young people just need to be presented with an opportunity for a way forward and the bell to step up. This book provides both. I can guarantee that Generation X and Y will respond.

DCF 1.0

CREATING FAILSAFE: Saving The Earth From Ourselves

CREATING FAILSAFE: Saving the Earth From Ourselves

 failsafef 2 -banner

Available from Amazon Kindle for $4.99

http://www.amazon.com/Failsafe-Saving-Earth-Ourselvesebook/dp/B006DLB4AK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329677682&sr=8-1

 Many of the ideas expressed in Failsafe were presented to students – both at the university and in the meditation hall. Their feedback, helpful suggestions and sometimes boredom prompted me to refine the basic ideas.  I first talked about a Failsafe in Consciousness in my 2002 book The Essential Spiral: Ecology and Consciousness After 9/11, drawing on the post Enron crash where financial analysts actually talked about responsibility and ethics.  I also drew on the writings of E.O. Wilson – that despite all that was happening around us there was still an unmistakable link with nature’s systems in the human psyche.

 

So I endeavoured to improve on the ideas floated in 2002 and tried it out on my ecology class at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I had the privilege of meeting two outstanding students – Eric Smith and Paul Schlissel. They took up the challenge of mapping my ideas into diagrams and re-arranged how I addressed the components of the emerging concepts. Failsafe, due to their promptings, became more than a set of ideas.  It had substance and a design based on three interconnected components. These were Innate Earth Wisdom; Counter Culture; Tipping Points in Consciousness – all of which intertwined with consciousness transformation. Can we fix the planet? This is the wrong question. Our present values and patterns of consumption are the architects of the present global ecological emergency. The right question is can we transform ourselves? My point in addressing Climate Change and Global Warming was that they were not the problem.  The real problem was the mind-set that created the ecological conditions for Global Warming to explode dramatically into the lives of every human being on earth.  I needed a set of interconnecting variables to link into the really crucial aspect of changing human consciousness.  I suppose it is an act of faith on my part, but I feel that once consciousness changes then different questions will be asked and different solutions found.  Out of the transformation will emerge the structures and institutions that can regulate global affairs without endangering all species – including our own.

 

Failsafe provides understanding of global eco-crises and issues a call to change the existing world order by arriving at a deep spiritual understanding of what needs to be done. Step by step methods to transform our existing mindset are laid out to usher in a new era of planetary care, social justice and peace. Failsafe is about hope and faith and the clear knowledge that we have the capacity to get things done. There is hope for future generations to occupy a healthy planet and faith in the human consciousness to change. There is faith that we beings can awaken to the miracle and beauty of all of life. Failsafe provides examples and guidance for transformation and change. Failsafe is a critical response to Lovelock’s 2006 book “Revenge of Gaia” where he argues that the present self-regulating mechanisms of Gaia cannot be controlled by human agency.  In the context of Global Warming and dire predictions for a habitable econiche for homo sapiens I present a Failsafe in Consciousness. I describe how consciousness expansion will be held in abeyance by wilful human ignorance until the global ecological situation deteriorates to a breaking point.  This breaking point will then act as a catalyst, penetrating such ignorance and activating consciousness so it is propelled into expansion, deliberation and change.

 

I drew a lot on the new discipline of Neuroscience, the Wisdom of Aboriginal Elders and the teachings of the Buddha about changing the human mind. Taming the human mind was a major issue, because to change external circumstances with technological fixes still leaves a damaging mind-set intact.  If our minds are not clear and at peace, we simply pass on our disturbance and selfishness to everything we create. In the final chapter – Taming The Wild Mind – I felt it necessary to include highly personal accounts to show that Taming the Wild Mind was not easy for me.  My particular journey is not for everyone – yet some form of journey is absolutely necessary for all of us – one that takes us beyond the superficial into the deep reality of our true nature.  This is nothing other than old fashioned goodness, caring and wisdom coming out to play instead of the greed and negativity that stalks the mind of humanity.

 

I started to give talks to the most unlikely audiences about all of this stuff, and found to my surprise that most of the folks listening got the drift of where I was going.  Their questions and requests for clarification enabled me to sculpt the Failsafe in Consciousness concept into a more understandable form.  I want to reach every man and woman in the street, as the sheer necessity of a bottom up revolution in patterns of consumption and behaviour is necessary for the Failsafe notion to kick in. Failsafe is taken from engineering, where the term is used to describe a stop lever or valve that comes into action whenever the machinery is in danger of exploding or breaking down.  As such, it is a useful metaphor for what is happening globally with Climate Change. I add to the Failsafe notion – particularly the idea of tipping points in consciousness.  This is akin to the Hundredth Monkey syndrome, where once a critical mass is reached then behaviour changes across the board.  In other words once a tipping point is reached there is a quantum leap of energy across the population.  For humanity I set this threshold at 2% of the human population. If 2% can truly commit to changing their minds and altering their patterns in the direction of voluntary simplicity, planetary care and compassion – then this is the tip of the spear that lances through the problem of Climate Change.  Let’s face it – Climate Change is very dangerous to us continuing to inhabit the earth, and still we do all kinds of senseless things to not face this reality.

 

Failsafe is by no means finished. There will be bright minds who will take it further, find loopholes in it and re-fashion it.  All this I gladly welcome. I look forward to the dialogue as it helps us move on. My hope is that you enjoy the book and share it with friends.  I will keep you up to date with my continuing journey as it evolves.

 

Every blessing to each one of you.

 

Ian

Transformation in India: Part II – Diary Entries

Transformation in India: Part II – Diary Entries                                        Ian Prattis

Excerpt from Chapter Five: Healing and Transformation taken from my forthcoming book: Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. I want to write with an authentic, elegant voice and captivate the reader as I navigate past and present life experiences over four centuries – from brutal raids on Indian settlements in 18th century Arizona, insane sea voyages off the Scottish Hebrides in the 20th century and finally, to a decisive life moment of surrender to The Muse in the 21st century. These screenplay-worthy epic tales weave together to create inspiration for fellow spiritual seekers – I just have to be in the right place internally to do the weaving. India is an excellent transformation point.

Streaming video of poem, voice, photos: http://www.ianprattis.com/poemmovies/buddhatemplepoem.htm

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 20, 1996                   

Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India

Feel weaker than ever this morning.  Could hardly make it from my bed to the bathroom.  Hope the saints who have passed through this little ashram are casting a protective eye over me.  Perhaps they can cheer up Chotolal, the Nepali cook here, who has become quite anxious, especially as I have not had the energy or inclination to eat the special dishes he prepares.  He is watching me write in my diary, so I will change hands and write with my left hand so he can laugh and feel less anxious about me.  It worked!  Why have I become so ill?  All my bodily systems have gone off line.  Is there some major purification going on in my body, is there something I do not see?  What lessons are there?  Or are my days drawing to a close in the silence of this ashram?  My blood tests from the hospital show that I am low and deficient in just about every category and the medications only make me feel worse.  So many questions and worries yet they do not seem totally important.  I ask them then they fade away.  It is a bit strange.  A few days ago I collapsed and passed out while at dinner at Madhumas house.  I know that she and her family would take me in, yet this saints refuge is where I feel most comfortable right now.  The quiet and simplicity of the place speaks to me.  I guess it allows me to prepare for death.           

Have been in an almost constant state of meditation for weeks now.  A deep quiet silence.  Making entries in this diary is almost an interruption.  Yesterday, Tom and Bev phoned from Tuscon in the States and it was wonderful to talk to them.  They sent prayers from the desert.  Another friend, Barbara, from Michigan also phoned.  She tunes into me very closely and was sufficiently alarmed to offer to fly to Mumbai and take me back to the States to get well in her home.  Their love and care is very moving, but I know that whatever is to happen is to be here in India.  It was not easy to communicate this to Carolyn but I do believe she understands.  My prayer is that she does not suffer unduly. Have sent Chotolal to buy some cards and stamps for me.  The cards are beautifully hand painted on pipal leaves with pictures of the Buddha, Krishna dancing and other such scenes.  Want to make sure I finish my Christmas list.  Sending Christmas cards to friends and loved ones.  Feel such a calm about all this that would normally surprise the heck out of me.  The calm is just there, sitting with me, just fine.  I know there is a distinct possibility I will not live beyond Christmas and want to send out a Christmas message from India – “Blessings and Love from Ian.   Writing the cards has exhausted me, but I feel satisfied and full mission accomplished.  Chotolal brought in a package of mail from Canada: letters and cards from family and friends, a framed photograph of Carolyn, my dearest friend and companion.  Made me very happy, also made me cry as I thought of friends I may not see again.  Yet they were strange tears not full of sorrow or anything, just tears as I thought of loving friends.

I keep falling asleep very quietly then waking up very quietly.  Sleep is like a light breeze that seems to visit now and then.  Ate a little bit of dinner to allay Chotolals anxiety, but it is my supply of rice malt and vitamin C that is keeping me going.  Chotolal placed some fruit and water on the table by my bed, then left to spend the next day with Nepali friends in another part of the city, taking my pile of Christmas cards to post.  I am enjoying the silence and solitude, now that he has left.  It is about nine o’clock in the evening and I am drifting off to sleep on gentle wings.

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 21, 1996                 

Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India

Waking up was easy, getting up was a struggle but did that in stages.  The quiet and silence inside the ashram is quite palpable and almost visible. I remembered my shamanic training with White Eagle Woman.  Had a dream about her during the night, but do not recall all the details.  I do remember that she told me to construct a mental medicine wheel around me and include all my spiritual ancestors.  Did that and feel an incredible constellation of energies, like millions of guardian angels from everywhere.

A decade later, when I consulted my notes and diaries from India for this book, I realized I had overlooked something totally pivotal and crucial. There were scribbled references and notes about a female deity in the mental medicine wheel who orchestrated the energy of my spiritual ancestors. She was there at every stage of my recovery, present at every initiation and ordination. I had written it all down. I felt the hair rising on the back of my neck as I reviewed my diaries.  The scribbled notes revealed the identity of the female deity as Trailing Sky Six Feathers.  How could I have been so stupid to not realize that the female choreographer of my recovery was her.

Took some fruit and returned to my book of meditations and began to read slowly, stopping frequently to close my eyes and feel the words.  Have no sense of time or space today, as each meditation seems to move me with its own measure and carry me along.  Feel such a deepening in my heart, all the way inside my body.  Aware that there is no fear or panic, just a simple and happy acceptance.  That is all that is there.  I have never experienced anything like this.  Have no thought of anything and feel deeply content for no apparent reason.  Is this surrender?  Peace with God?  No flashing lights, visitations or visions only a quiet surrender and being with the inevitability of it all, whatever THAT is.

DIARY ENTRY, DECEMBER 22, 1996                  

Prem Kutir Ashram, Mumbai, India

I woke up this morning, heard two crows saying hello from the tree outside the window.  Feel so happy to be alive.  Chotolal is singing in the kitchen and rattling his pots and pans, so I will celebrate this new day with a little breakfast.  That will make us both very happy.  A clear insight that this death is a spiritual one, as is the rebirth.  I feel completely new this morning, as though I have been rewired and plugged into sockets with a bigger voltage.  Part of my preparation to continue moving along the path of understanding. 

CAROLYNS VOICE FROM OTTAWA, CANADA, December 10, 1996:

There was a strange voice mail on my telephone answering machine didnt recognize the voice and couldnt make out what the person was saying.   Was it Ian calling from India?  If so, it was a really bad connection.

December 12, 1996:

Ian called.  He had left the message, but it wasnt a bad connection.  He is so sick that he can hardly talk and his voice is unrecognizable.  A cold chill ran down my spine.  He says hes had surgery and that his systems are all crashing, one by one.  But hes not afraid I believe he is not afraid of dying if that is whats happening.  What can I do?  My first instinct is to go to India, to be with him, to care for him, but no, he says this is a journey he must go through alone.  I am so worried.   All I can do is surround him with light and love.  And I pray I pray that God will care for him, make him well and keep him safe. Dad is in the hospital dying from heart disease two open-heart surgeries in the last month.  The doctors are amazed that he is still living.  I wonder if he is afraid to die.  Im being forced to look at death, my fears, my attachments.  I cry.  Dad has been ill for many years and I know he will not likely survive this ordeal, but Ian.  Ian is too young.  His life work is not done.  He still has so much to offer.

Ian speaks about the possibility of death with such calm.  Hes not afraid, but I am.  I dont want to lose him.  I am not prepared to let him go.  Over the phone from India Ian teaches me about no birth and no death, that we continue living in all that we touch – simply a different manifestation than our physical bodies.  But this is too difficult for me to accept at the moment.  I am attached.  I do not want to let him go.  Ian directs me to the teachings on impermanence, and encourages me to meditate on the Five Remembrances being of the nature to grow old, the nature to become ill, the nature to die, the nature for all things to change and knowing that we will be separated from those we hold dear and that our only true possessions are the consequences of our actions.

Christmas Day, 1996:

Ian called.  He sounds a little better but is still very weak.  I shed tears of relief.  I continue to surround Ian with light and love.  And I pray.  I pray that God will give him the strength and will to overcome his illness. Hope is fading for my Dad.  Hes in intensive care and only Mom is allowed to visit him for a few minutes at a time.   None of his children are permitted to see him.  I pray that he does not suffer for too long.  I pray that he can find the same kind of peace and calm that Ian has found.  I am terrified that he might be afraid to die.  But I dont know his thoughts or feelings and my family wont talk about death.  I am caught in a paradigm praying for my Dad to let go, to end his suffering but afraid for my dad that he might be dying in fear.  That bothers me so much.  At the same time I pray for Ian to survive, but my fear is for myself at the thought of Ian passing away and leaving me.  He seems so prepared and accepting of death.  Here I am, afraid for my father at the thought of him passing away, yet afraid for myself at the thought of Ian passing away.

August, 1997:

After ten long months in the Heart Institute my Dad passed away.  Ive come to realize that he was not afraid.  He hung on for so long to allow my Mom and my siblings the time to accept his death, time to let him go.  I am so grateful that he wasnt afraid to die. At the same time Ian returned from India and I am grateful to have him back home alive and well.  His experiences in India have totally transformed him.  His near death experience also transformed me, for he guided me to look deeply into the realm of birth and death, to accept death, to let go and to see the continuation of loved ones in all aspects of life, from a flower blooming to a family member smiling.  I do see my Dad every day in different manifestations of life.