Category Archives: Mindfulness

Vesak in Ottawa, May 5, City Hall 10am – 2pm

The roaring beat of Cambodian temple drums opens the day with a bang.  They are followed in procession by the monastic Sangha walking mindfully to their places next to the podium, led by Bhante Savath from the Cambodian Temple in Ottawa. From the monastic chanting all the way through to the finale – the day unfolds in a majestic way. City Hall is decorated with beautiful artwork, food tables and booths for Asian embassies and other community groups for this celebration of Vesak Day. It is always a stunning day.

Asian Buddhist communities in Ottawa – from Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand – created this Vesak Celebration with Visita Leelaratna organizing the many parts of the day. He is the founder of this celebration. The first Vesak Festival in 2014 received guidance from three spiritual advisors – Master Bon Dat, Bhante Rath Sam and Dharmacharya Ian Prattis. They each come from different Buddhist traditions in Ottawa and three different countries – Vietnam, Cambodia, Canada. They established a common cause to spread the seeds of Buddha Mind across Ottawa by creating an atmosphere of generosity, humility and kindness.

The Vesak and Asian Heritage nature of the event brings messages from the Governor-General, Prime Minister of Canada, and the Mayor of Ottawa. This is a wonderful support for multi-culturalism and interbeing from all levels of government in Canada. The vigorous Lion Dance from the Vietnamese Youth Group always lights up the crowd. A talk on Loving Kindness is offered by the Buddha Meditation Centre in Toronto. Lawrence Greenspon also talks about his tour of Buddhist World Heritage sites in Asia. Connections are made, bridges are crossed and the organizers and audience went home very happy.

Here is some background about Vesak and the Buddha.

Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who lived and taught in India ca. 2,600 years ago. 550 million people in the world identify Buddhism as their religion or way of life.

Vesākha Day is the day Buddhists remember the birth, the enlightenment, and the passing away of the Buddha. The United Nations marks Vesākha Day as an official holiday, worldwide. As Buddhism spread from India, it was adapted to many cultures, and consequently Vesākha Day is celebrated in many different ways in various countries, such as China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan, Thailand, and Nepal, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama.

Some will visit their local temple before dawn, to raise the official Buddhist flag, which represents a rainbow. Some may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and incense, which serve as a reminder that just as the beautiful flowers will wither, and the candles burn out, so too is life subject to impermanence. In some countries, birds and animals are released in a symbolic act of liberation. Vesākha Day is therefore a time when we reach out across the various Buddhist traditions to celebrate, and to non-Buddhists to enjoy dialogue and harmony.

And that is what happens in Ottawa City Hall on May 5, 2019!

Poetic Voice

                                              

I will talk about the Poetic Voice and “Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era.”

In 2017 I published a book of essays titled “Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement.” Once I sent it off to the publisher I had to clean out my filing cabinet, which was a total mess. In the process of dumping stuff I was surprised to come across a folder with 60 years of my poetry stuffed in it. Most of it was garbage, but there were sufficient gems to feature six distinct thematic moods to capture the shared aspects of human experience.

It all started during my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo (1960 – 62). This was with Britain’s Peace Corps. I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds and how I was feeling. From that time on I scribbled poetry wherever I went, accumulating poems that reminded me of the experiences. Later on in life, my extensive shamanic training with First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged. Those notes and poems were a sign-post to always be authentic. In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact on how I wrote. I would say that without poetry cultures implode.

My first book – Redemption – was written in 1975. I refer to this novel as I wrote it as an extended prose poem. It became a lost manuscript as I did not know how to get published at that time. In 1975 I was writing way over my head and lacked the maturity to understand the deep nuances emerging from my pen. Redemption was writing me and it is fitting that it was not published until 2014. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and human nature. The time lapse allowed me to grow into the insights and revelations writ large. I was a total mess in 1975 – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep my career intact as a young professor at Carleton University. I was not doing a good job with either. The surprise for me in 2014 was how did I write such a powerful poetic novel while in a desperate state of mind? This background brings me to “Painting with Words” – my latest book

PART ONE: BITTERSWEET

It growls rather than sings – a side show malady of words I sometimes prefer to hide. It relishes what I failed and flailed at – my discomfort with relationships, hierarchical structure and all that is phony. Growing up I was acutely aware that I was a maverick – on the outside looking in. I saw more clearly and deeply than allowed.

The poem Punk Palace in the Moonlight presents a sudden shift in the first mood. This poem is about my son – lost in the drug underground of Glasgow, Scotland. I went there to bring him out. Punk Palace in the Moonlight is a collaborative poem composed with my son. We took turns composing lines of a poem to the moon. I cannot discern where he began and where I ended, which is perhaps just as it should be.

Punk Palace in the Moonlight

Moonlight speaks of a morning passing by

life crisis turns beyond wreckage

preventing boundless life entering grim death.

The moon a delicate mistress

veiled by fleeting clouds and mysteries.

It makes the stars and galaxies dance.

The moon does this,

with all that is in me.

This gateway to boundless space

is a door for my troubles and joy.

For I am in the moon and stars

and they are in me.

We dance together

– Now Bright; Now Turbulent

Now Lost; Now Found –

Beyond any sense or reason.

And the night sky casts movement and hues

to something I touch

with that in me.

The full harvest moon

rises from banks of pastel grey,

pacing existence

through the rhythms of our universe.

Glasgow, Scotland. September, 1995 

PART TWO: PAINTING WITH WORDS

Part Two displays my passion for nature, the colourful images of nature’s cycles and its “undeterred rhythm” of change. I remember as a child how I blithely assumed that nature walked me when I cut school to roam the forest and rivers near my home. As a child I had special relationships with wild animals, in particular with one otter and a family of hedgehogs that I kept under my bed. My parents were long suffering over the stray animals I brought home, but their patience was severely stretched over the hedgehogs. They had to be returned to the forest when I became infested with their fleas, which I passed on to my immediate family, classmates, and also to a particular schoolteacher that I did not like.

My poem “Weaving in the Forest” paints the image of a lake, awakening the senses to the striking beauty of the depicted scene.

Weaving in the Forest

 

Let me share it.

This symphony of autumn color,

cascading melody from a sky

pastel grey and fiery red.

Descant to the dancing tones of

a painted forest

cooled by lush evergreens.

 

Sensual beauty,

rhapsody of forest and sunset sky

fused a golden sheen,

caught in a still lake.

Waiting with patience

beyond time and space,

A pause to reflect this moment of

splendor –

Weaving

Lac Philippe, Gatineau Hills, October, 1992

 

PART THREE: AGUA VIVA and PART FOUR: FOOTSTEPS OF THE BUDDHA

I will run together Part Three: Agua Viva and Part Four: Footsteps of the Buddha. They are both about the spiritual journey at different times. Agua Viva (in Mexico) provides poems about my clumsy emergence to new understandings. They are very different from the more mature Part Four – Footsteps of the Buddha.

I met a visiting Rishi to Canada in 1995 – a holy man from India who recognized me and insisted I go to India for spiritual training. In November and December of 1996 I became seriously ill in India. As I observed my bodily systems crashing one by one I knew there was a distinct possibility of death. 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 at hand. One humorous manifestation of that grace occurred one morning when I woke up and opened my eyes to greet one of my swami mentors. He smiled broadly and said in his wonderful Indian accent:

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

I went back to India six years later. My wife Carolyn and I embarked on a pilgrimage – In The Footsteps Of The Buddha – through North India and Nepal in February 2003. I created six insight poems that provide a glimpse of experiences that are too immense to otherwise communicate. The Footsteps of the Buddha pilgrimage was full of wonder and miracles. It was a journey to the center of being so that everyday life becomes a pilgrimage.

 PART FIVE: SPEAKING OF TRUE LOVE

I do not have the credentials to speak of this lofty pinnacle. My relationships through time hardly equipped me, as I stumbled through ignorance, stupidity (mostly mine) and unhappiness. My mistakes were legion and I eventually decided to live alone. I found a spacious cabin set in the Gatineau Forest across the river from Ottawa.

An old friend pierced that bubble. She was taking ballroom dancing lessons and asked me to accompany her, as her partner was unable to do so. At the Jack Purcell Centre in Ottawa, an elderly Jamaican gentleman was our instructor. He was charming and had all the moves to put us through the paces of ballroom dancing. I noticed an attractive blonde woman always dancing the male part with her female friends – all from the same office. Her name was Carolyn. I asked if she would like to dance the female role with me. Her wide green eyes and gentle smile said it all. The following week of dancing with her was magic. Not once did I tread on her toes during the intricate passages of the Quick Step and the Fox Trot.

Before leaving that evening, I asked if she would like to meet my wolf. As soon as these words came out of my mouth, I thought she must think this was the worst pick-up line in the world. She paused, smiled and then said “Yes.” I did, in fact, have a pet wolf in the back of my truck. He had found me in the Mt. Currie forest in British Columbia. He played his part beautifully. I rolled down the window of my truck and Carolyn could see his magnificence. He had a russet brown coat with white forelegs and face. He rested his large paw on Carolyn’s shoulder and gently licked her cheek. It was an instant match. She told me much later that she fell in love with the wolf first, then thought that there must be something about the fellow who had him.

The thematic focus of these poems is a celebration of souls mirroring each other, bonded in a union reminiscent of twin flame bonds. They remind me of the Romantic period in English literature, or the Sturm and Drang of the German poetic expression, where ecstatic feelings prevailed over the poetic form. Here is a taste: “Our soft spoken adoration blows on dandelions, creating parasols drifting to fertile ground” – PAUSE – that begins one of the many verses.

PART SIX: ANCIENT WISDOM

PART SIX – ANCIENT WISDOM was written when I accompanied two friends on the first leg of their cross Canada canoe expedition.

My creation of this epic poem had a double focus. I wanted to leave a document about Canada’s wilderness for my grand-children, so they could be inspired by Mother Earth. I also wanted to weave in the Wisdom of the Elders, to speak about Canadian waterways from the reverence of First Nations.

Painting With Words Poetry for a New Era ends with this thematic focus on Ancient Wisdom – pulsating with the rhythm of the river, the spirit of nature of its ancient inhabitants. In spite of being exposed to the merciless harshness of the elements, the poet – that is me – still smiles because I am a part of this world just like a tree or a rock.

The connection between humans and nature is illustrated in the poem about a solitary tree and a man. In each other’s presence, their feelings of aloneness vanish.

The Forest

In the forest a great many entities

of the earth and sky speak of before

and what is to be.

Clearings sunk into the earth

await further visits.

In the center of one clearing

stood a single tall aspen

Waiting for companionship,

fragile in its aloneness,

in her aloneness,

in our aloneness.

I stand within her circle

– this tree and I –

and for a brief moment,

neither were alone.

To finish I would like to bring to your attention a 5 STAR review which inspired the writer of it to start writing poetry again. READ.

Kathryn Bennett writes:

I have to be fully honest in saying I read this book three times before settling in to write this review. Each time, I felt like I uncovered another layer with the collection of poems that I had missed the last time through. To me, there is something truly magical about a work that can do that. You can see the images come to life before your eyes as you read. It was truly a pleasure to be able to read this collection of poems and it has inspired me to look back on some poetry I used to write and perhaps to start doing so again. I would highly recommend this book to any reader who loves a journey and wants to find themselves mesmerized by the written word.

 

Wise Words from Joanna Macy 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Vesak Ottawa Project on Mindfulness

I will present a session on Mindfulness at the Ottawa Public Library, at Laurier/Metcalfe branch. Saturday, September 15, 12.30pm – 1.45pm, Main Room B 125. There are 35 seats available. Register by clicking on the green Register button to the right of the page. Enter your library bar code number and PIN (usually the last 4 digits of their phone number) & click on Register again. https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/event/mindfulness-dr-ian-prattis

Lalith Gunaratne will continue at 2pm – 4pm with Mindful Leadership and Emotional Balance – in the same room. https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/event/mindful-awareness-inquiry-ways-finding-emotional-balance-our-modern-lives

Bhante Savath, co-ordinator for Vesak in Ottawa will do the introduction. My session at 12.30pm will begin with a wellness chant. My talk afterwards is taken from the opening chapter of my new book – Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement. Let me tell you a story …..

My grand-nephew James was celebrating his birthday, yet he felt awful about being nine years old. He wished he could stay five years old forever. When I asked him “Why?” he replied that if he could stay five then the Earth would not explode. His lips quivered and tears welled up in his large brown eyes. “I am scared it is too late, that there will be nothing to save,” he exclaimed with a frightened voice. He dropped the unopened gift in his hand. He was so upset. I gently guided him from the hallway of his home to sit with me on the back garden steps. It was quiet there.

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

After a long talk I gave James a mindfulness plan to follow.

I talked about “Gardening in the Mind” – a basic strategy of Engaged Buddhism. I offered him eight simple steps to refine mindfulness and then engage differently with the world.

  1. Yo James – learn to be silent and quiet! Clear time and space for spiritual practice at home and throughout your daily schedule. James shouted back: Yo Uncle Ian – right on – got it!
  2. Create a stress reduction menu and subtract the negative energies in the garden of your mind.
  3. Be determined to meditate daily – do the weeding of getting rid of negative energies..
  4. Focus on and soften your heart – do not be mean – cultivate the soil of your mind’s garden.
  5. Cultivate the seeds of mindfulness – Love, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity and promote them at home, school, work and in solitude.
  6. Simplify, make do with less, de-clutter your mind and home.
  7. Taste the fruits of your spiritual practice that change your mind.
  8. Engage with the world.

James was entering all of this on his tablet as I continued to talk. “Our ways of living together, caring for environmental, political and economic realms need to be re-constructed.” I assured James that “Gardening in the Mind” has the capacity to transform how we think. Finding stillness and inner silence is a necessary first step. “We have to find a way to create the conditions for this to happen. In our modern world of fast paced lifestyles there are so many distractions that make us outwardly dependant and un-centered. We also find it easier to close down rather than open up our hearts. But the remedy is within reach. We can unravel the knots of suffering and move from being mindless to being mindful. This is achieved by gardening in the mind. The 8 point menu helps you to get there.”

I assured James that we are equal to the task and I chose not to hold back anything from him during this long conversation on his birthday. He is an unusually bright boy, as he asked questions and demanded clarification. Yet I knew he had grasped what I had said. He came up to me as I was leaving and whispered in my ear that my chat with him was his best birthday present ever.

http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Steward of Gaia.

  • Jana Begovic, Author of “Poisonous Whispers”

 

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

 

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

US BOOK VIEWS: 5 STAR FOR “OUR WORLD IS BURNING.”

US BOOK VIEWS: 5 STAR FOR “OUR WORLD IS BURNING.”

This book exhumes a quiet power with the strength to reshape the reader’s mindset. In a time of stress, uncertainty, rampant consumerism, and divisive politics, one could easily succumb to the modern dog-eat-dog mentality. It’s easy to feel like a small, meaningless pebble in the vast sea of society, but Dr. Ian Prattis—guru, Zen teacher, former anthropology professor, and writer—believes there’s a better way to live based on mindfulness and simplicity. In his essay collection, Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement, Dr. Prattis argues that we can improve not just our lives but the world around us by becoming an island of mindfulness within human society. Our World is Burning presents sixteen essays which strive to teach the benefits of mindful engagement for individuals, communities, and the Earth.

These essays are divided into four parts, each based on a different area which mindfulness can positively impact: global climate change, family and community, healing and transformation, and spiritual support. Dr. Prattis shows readers what mindfulness can do for them and the small ways in which readers can rewire their consumerist thoughts and become more present in the here and now.

While conveying many of the same messages as other spiritual works, Our World is Burning stands out for its calm honesty. Dr. Prattis does not pull any punches, whether he’s talking about society, his loved ones, or his own life. He lays out the facts truthfully but without the angry, accusatory tone which often accompanies topics such as global climate change. Readers might feel guilty as a result of this book’s truths, but not because of the author’s tone; instead, they will feel the weight of his words, and readers will know that it is time to take action. Fortunately for those who do not like academic essays, Dr. Prattis does not rely on this method to convey his views. Also, as Dr. Prattis warns in the “Invitation,” these essays do not focus on scientific research or statistics. Rather, Dr. Prattis uses personal anecdotes, references to prophetic movies and books, and even a fictional depiction of measures which may become necessary due to global climate change. This variety allows readers to avoid any dry patches due to the monotone of typical essay writing—that is, if they are truly interested in the subject matter.

That being said, this book is not for everyone. Dr. Prattis makes claims which will rub some readers the wrong way. Namely, his remarks on the destructive nature of consumerism and society’s reluctance to adapt will strike a nerve with more conservative readers. However, those really looking for what’s missing in their lives, those who want to make a difference but don’t think they can, will find a wise guide in Dr. Prattis. He teaches readers that they might just be one person, but it only takes 2% of us meditating to bring change to the entire world. His personal anecdotes and conversations with family members will especially touch such readers, showing them that Dr. Prattis knows these methods work firsthand and is not just a “do as I say, not as I do” instructor.

For those wanting an insightful, inspirational examination of mindfulness in the modern era, look no further. This book will strike your heart and point you down a path of meditation, simplicity, and mindfulness. This new path will be difficult, but the peace and hope which Dr. Prattis promises will be worth the obstacles

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

 

Postscript to “Our World is Burning.”

Postscript for “Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement”.

 Order book: Amazon, Indigo, Author signed: http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

 My life as a global traveller stretched my attention beyond any limits I could have placed on it. From teenage volunteering in Borneo with Britain’s Peace Corps to being a yogi in India and a Zen teacher in Canada – expansion of mind was inescapable. My challenging journey navigates shamanic healing of childhood sexual abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an ashram in India. In my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo, I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds. From that time on I kept journals and scribbled poetry. I eventually had trunks full of journals that reminded me of the experiences I went through, particularly in India.

My extensive shamanic training with First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged. As an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many story tellers across North America – Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few.  Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry, cultures implode.  Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary medicine people enhanced my process of remembering the power of the poetic voice. Through their mentoring I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. I also chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. This impact shows up in my writing.

From this vast range of experience I found an ability to sculpt narrative in a novel way and this was expressed in my poetry and books. I certainly stumbled through the first part of life, but then stood strong in my own sovereignty in the latter part. In India, Arizona, France and Canada’s wilderness, I went to great lengths to transform karma and began to live life as a Meditation for Gaia. My journal notes were a signpost to always be authentic, even when it was difficult to re-read. As a professor I wrote text books and scholarly papers, which had particular protocols that were often stifling. When I started late on the writing craft – I had to re-learn how to write without sounding pompous, to be mindful of what the reader could take in. I gave up on footnotes!

I am a Zen teacher, also a recognized guru in India. My initial task is to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. If I did not do this, then I could not write the way I do. The focus on daily mindfulness from my Zen practice enables me to be still and clear. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge. I do my best not to write from a space of frustration or of wanting to get the writing finished. I wait until the energy of mindfulness is tangible – then creating the words and text just flow.

My books are epic tales that seamlessly weave together to create inspiration for a wide range of fellow spiritual seekers, environmentalists, Generation X and Y, feminists, students and academics alike. I recognized early on that global citizens are staring into the abyss – yet instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them: “Awaken Spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. We have to take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea! That is the prod and direction of my poems and books. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of daily life to find the courage and determination to transform. My writing caps a long-term fascination with consciousness. As a Professor I taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Engaged Buddhism and Meditation Systems. I am a healer, mentor and educator, able to encourage people through example to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed. All of this funnels back into my writing.

My hope is that the reader will summon the courage to believe that they can take steps to transform internally and then make a difference externally. The stories I tell are offered as a gift for our planet. My purpose is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. We can and must transform. My Essays deliver a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. In the Sixteen Essays, I offer reality-based information that is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for my projects to become fresh, new icons for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation. Authenticity is the bottom line, which took a while to register in my career as an academic. It is essential to find one’s authentic voice and not be afraid to express it.

In Essay One my grand-nephew James requested a training program. I offered this 8-point plan.

  1. You – learn to be silent and quiet! Clear time and space for spiritual practice at home and throughout your daily schedule.
  2. Create a stress reduction menu and subtract the “weeds” in the garden of your mind.
  3. Be determined to meditate daily – do the weeding.
  4. Focus on and soften your heart – nurture the soil of your mind’s garden.
  5. Cultivate the seeds of mindfulness at home, school, and work or in solitude.
  6. Simplify, make do with less, de-clutter your mind and home.
  7. Taste the fruits of your spiritual practice.
  8. Engage with the world.

This plan for James, or something like it, is a necessary prelude for mindful engagement. Whether it is at home, in community, activism against damaging global structures – some form of reflective quiet enables citizens to connect, reach out and play a part in reconstructing our place on planet earth. To stay on the sidelines doing nothing, creates victims of us all. There is no time to lose. I remember saying to James that “The greatest gift we can give to ourselves and others at this time of global crises is sharing and caring. It involves stepping onto what the Buddhists call the Bodhisattva Path.” I explained that a Bodhisattva was a person who stayed in the global mess and did their best to awaken the minds and hearts of people. I firmly stated that it is time for the Bodhisattva-within-us to enter the 21st century as the example for action. It takes training, practice, intelligence and creative vision to find the drive to create a tangible spirit of co-operation, the willingness to share and be supportive, and learning how to cross the bridges of conflict.

This thread of understanding finds a place in every essay in Our World is Burning. However, the obstacles preventing people taking wise action are a mixture of fear, despair, disempowerment and a sense of hopelessness. The overwhelming terror of Gaia’s collapse, along with the consequences of global refugees and fascist regimes are unbearable. Our challenge is to be in society, but as a still island of mindful engagement. We do not have to be caught by pathological consumerism. Voluntary Simplicity is a good starting place, becoming aware of our consumerism. We can also participate and engage in global protests through organizations such as Avaaz. We take action and get up close and personal with the crises, reduce our ecological footprint, bring ethics into business and the workplace, support science and diversity, and warn governments and corporations.

Where do we start? Of course we must think globally and be aware of the bigger picture and step beyond the smaller pictures of ourselves created from fear and disempowerment. Yet we can also act locally with great vigour in our families and communities. Our intentions then spread as ripples from a pebble dropped in still water. In addition to holding officials, politicians and corporate culture to account let us begin with the small things that all of us can do. While at the same time alerting the political and corporate decision makers that we do mean business as voters and consumers deeply concerned about the planet and our location on it. This is very important.  Our leaders are a manifestation of our collective will. When the collective will changes, our leaders will act differently.

A massive global citizen response will certainly elicit an equally massive government and corporate response, as the bottom-up movement and top-down strategies for drastic change meet and integrate. There is not room in this Global Ecological Emergency for separating into “US’ and “THEM” categories. We are totally interconnected whether we like it or not.  We will all live together or we will all die together. An intelligent and all-encompassing green ideology embedded in everything we produce and market is a means to bridge competing agendas.

Our dependence on fossil fuels reduces because we are aware of the deadly consequences of our addiction to oil and coal. The transition to a carbon neutral global energy system over the next few decades will be costly and require a massive response from government and corporate leaders to initiate a new industrial revolution. This is necessary to blunt the impact of climate change. It is a huge global industrial project that governments and corporations can bring about due to citizen pressure to “Make It So!” Climate Change has certainly entered public consciousness. It just has to penetrate the corridors of political and corporate power. As global citizens we must find the ways and means to support the shift in consciousness at all levels of global society to make this so. Our future existence, and the existence of other species on planet earth, depends on your making a new beginning for all of us.

Glance at the sun

See the moon

And the stars

Gaze at the beauty

Of the earth’s

Greening

 

Now Think

 

Hildergard of Bingen 1098 – 1179

Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Review.

Our World Is Burning

My Views on Mindful Engagement by Ian Prattis

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

BOOK REVIEW

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

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

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

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

 

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

MORE DEAD CHILDREN.

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

http://ianprattis.com/OurWorldIsBurning.html

 More Dead Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Authentic Tapestry.

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

My activism is a result of my internal work. Steadiness, clarity and compassion are within me. I prefer the still-point, uncoloured by the excess of ego and desire for recognition. Such a still-point permits me to be free in my own sovereignty, no matter what I am doing. It also propels me to serve the planet and humanity by creating bridges and pathways of harmony. As an anthropologist, I was fortunate to encounter many story tellers across North America – Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry, cultures implode. Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary medicine people enhanced my process of remembering the power of the poetic voice. Through their mentoring I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. I also chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. This shows up in my writing.

My books are epic tales that seamlessly weave together to create inspiration for a wide range of fellow spiritual seekers, environmentalists, Generation X and Y, feminists, students and academics alike. I recognized early on that global citizens are staring into the abyss – yet instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them: “Awaken Spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. We have to take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter. Turning the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea right now. That is the prod and direction of my poems and books. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of daily life to find the courage and determination to transform.

My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. In the Sixteen Essays of Our World is Burning, I offer reality-based information that is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for my projects to become fresh, new icons for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation. It takes training, practice, intelligence and creative vision to find the drive to create a tangible spirit of cooperation, the willingness to share and be supportive, and learning how to cross the bridges of conflict. This thread of understanding finds a place in every essay in Our World is Burning.

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