Tag Archives: Dharma

Dharma from Pine Gate on YouTube

Sariputta’s Right View

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsYPbIfrsaM  In the opening dharma talk about the Noble Eightfold Path we learned about the dynamic nature of Right View and Sariputta’s Four Edible Nutriments. Edible Food and Sensory Food were discussed. We now come on to the Food of Volition/Craving and the Food of Consciousness. This establishes the formidable presence of Right View – not something that can really be taught, as the practitioner has to diligently practice Mindfulness and Concentration for Right View to trickle in. A matter of experience rather than intellect. Nothing survives w/o food – So Stop Feeding Your Demons!

Right Diligence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dyndaoFU68 The Four Principles of Right Diligence enable us to NOT add mental anguish to a situation that causes us to suffer. The Two Arrows Teaching (Sallatha Sutta) is pertinent. Takes care of our fragility and fosters a different response to negatives of life. Right Diligence is the practice of selective watering of seeds. Intelligent gardening in the mind. The work of Awakening.

Right Speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsYPbIfrsaM  If you cannot listen deeply then you cannot speak with compassion. You just create firebombs in the mouth and devastate relationships. Before Right Speech we must examine Right Thinking and look into Deep Listening before an understanding of Right Speech emerges. We must also be aware of the dynamic nature of Right View as it floods all other components of the Noble Eightfold Path. Right View is often Wrong View when it is based on attitudes and strongly held views that encase discrimination. It has to transform through Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration as the engine that changes attitudes and views into Insight.

Interview with A Shaman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO4CN12yo50  Tipi by the Rideau River on Carleton University campus in Ottawa. Interview with an Algonquin shaman. Smudging, journey and sharing while a solitary blue heron stood guard on a rock in the river, right next to the tipi.  awesome omen. For significance see: http://laurallongley.com/about/about-the-blue-heron/

Orgininally produced through the facilities of Carleton University on Line, www.cuol.ca

Transmission Ceremony with Thich Nhat Hanh

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_5bw_O0uBY Thich Nhat Hanh’s Lamp Transmission to Ian Prattis 2003 at Plum Village. Ian responds with a dharma talk on the Historical and Ultimate dimensions of reality, emphasizing the significance of silence. His Lamp gatha is: “Lotus Sutra sings, Dharma Rain penetrates, My Heart wide open.”


Pot Luck Recipes at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community

Pine Gate has a mindfulness gathering every quarter of the year – March, June, September and December. Our cadre of chefs create awesome vegetarian dishes. Prior to the pot luck supper there is a dharma talk and discussion. The Five Contemplations in English and French are read out before we share in a sumptuous and nourishing meal. Here are some of the recipes.

(I should add that I do not qualify for the cadre of chefs,)

Cocoa-Banana Pie – sent in by Ute

Rice Crust

3/4 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

In food processor grind almonds until they resemble bread crumbs.

In a bowl, mix ground almonds, rice flour, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl mix oil with maple syrup.

Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Press into an oiled and floured 9 1/2 or 10 inch pie plate. Make sure rim comes up high.

Bake at 350 degrees F until lightly browned, approximately 25 minutes. Cool.


1 litre (4 cups) cocoa soy milk

1/4 cup agar flakes

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup arrowroot flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 bananas, or 3 cups sliced bananas

Bring soy milk and agar to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Reduce heat and simmer until agar is completely dissolved.

Mix arrowroot into the maple syrup; whisk it into simmering soy milk mixture until thick. It will thicken almost immediately. Remove from heat.

Allow to cool for 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice bananas into pie shell.

Stir vanilla extract into soy milk mixture, then pour it over the sliced bananas.

Allow to set in refrigerator for 2 -3 hours.

Serves 8 – 10

Recipe from the Green Door Restaurant Cookbook Vegetarian Cookbook.

Reproduced with permission from the Green Door Restaurant.

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

Lemon Asparagus from Ken

4 – 6 bunches asparagus

1 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper

¼ cup olive oil

Parmesan cheese – optional

In a large mixing bowl, toss asparagus with lemon juice, lemon zest, oil and pepper.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.  Once marinated, preheat oven to 350 F.  Pour asparagus and marinade onto aluminum foil coated cookie sheet.  Cook for fifteen minutes or until tender.

(Also great cooked on barbecue wrapped in aluminum foil).

Lightly sprinkle with parmesan cheese after cooking.

Millet and Bean Casserole (Lasagna) from Carolyn

The ingredient quantities are approximate – you can add more or less of anything. The amounts below make a very large lasagna casserole.

Beans – I use dry beans, but you can use canned beans also which are easier and quicker:

1 cup of dry beans – you can use any kind or a mixture

(I use  1/3 cup of dry pinto beans

1/3 cup of dry black turtle beans

1/3 baby lima beans)

Soak beans overnight, drain, and cook according to package.


3/4  cup dry green lentils -cook according to package

(I cook them about 10 minutes less than required as they cook more when baked)


3/4  cup dry millet – cook according to package

(Again, I undercook it as it will soak up juice when baked)


1 medium onion, diced

1 -2 cups of mixed vegetables – carrots, mushrooms, peppers, corn, celery – whatever you like.

Saute onion and mixed vegetables in a bit of olive oil until soft.

Add whatever spices you like.  I use lots of basil, oregano, cayenne pepper.

When cooked, combine everything into a very large casserole dish.

Mix in a large can of tomato sauce – I often put in some stewed tomatoes also

Mix in a cup or so of shredded cheese – I like to use a mixture of mozzarella, romano, guyere.

Bake  350 for about 30 minutes.  Then add a thick layer of cheese and bake another 10 minutes.

Pot Luck at Pine Gate (2)

Dharma Detective Investigates Great Difficulties

TOOLS: Center in Mindfulness
: Taking Refuge: Deep Looking/ Deep Listening
: Skills to Garden in the Mind
STAGE ONE: Locate Difficulty in Time & Space
: Sangha Eyes: Deep Looking/Deep Listening
STAGE TWO: Remember Feelings
: Use of Teachings & Practice
STAGE THREE: Deep Looking into Blaming and Complicity
: Understanding, Impermanence and Transformation
STAGE FOUR: Deep Reflection
: Learning Curve

Start by recognizing the mind-state that causes suffering, be prepared to stop and skilfully look deeply into suffering by placing it within a practice of mindfulness. Just these initial steps can prevent us from being hooked and taken down by strong emotions and wrong perceptions. The tools are not those of intellectual self-analysis where we rationalize our suffering away. To recognize the significant elements of our suffering we need mindfulness, concentration and insight. Above all else we need to locate in heart consciousness – that still place of calm that is available by first of all stopping and then centering in mindfulness. This is so your mind-state is calm and grounded for the investigation.

Your time of great difficulty – locate it. What happened, where and when? What was the time frame? What do you think caused it – was it something in you or were the causal elements also around you? Do your best to establish the nature of the different factors that caused you to suffer at this difficult time in your life. Know also that your perceptions and recollections of the situation may well be skewed, so it is wise to take refuge in sangha eyes, to find out from dharma brothers and sisters just how you were at that time in terms of your actions and reactions. In this first step of being a dharma detective there is the importance of being grounded, of deep looking and of relying on sangha eyes to remember clearly.
Christmas Dharma Talk

Stage Two takes the process deeper. You have recognized your suffering but do you remember how you felt at that time? Did you become overwhelmed by it all or did you apply the practices and teachings in any way? Were there dharma friends available to help you or did you not seek help because you had lost faith? We need courage with this part of the inquiry, for it leads to the very difficult next stage of looking deeply into how we tend to take refuge in blaming instead of taking refuge in the Three Gems. We have to be a “Hercule Poirot,” truly a dharma detective, for now in Stage Three we list in our notebook how we blamed – the other, the situation, the Buddha, Jesus – even God! How did you lash out during your suffering? How did you try to harm and discriminate against the one you hate and any one else who got in the way? Did you shut them out or run away? Did you seek complicity with someone to help share your hate?

We all love our dramas, so much so that we tend to seek out someone to agree with our suffering – but there is no support in that, as only deeper suffering ensues. Were you lucky enough to find true support, someone steady to direct you to a greater understanding of the particular hell you are investigating? Did you come to an understanding that blaming, punishment, shutting off, running away, seeking complicity – none of these are motivated by understanding and compassion? Did you begin to realize that suffering is impermanent and that understanding and compassion illuminates impermanence, that this is the way out? If you have these realizations then progress is surely being made.

The Fourth Stage is a process of deep reflection on what would you do now, if faced with a similar situation. From the investigation of your time of great difficulty can you identify a learning curve that will enable you to not repeat the same mistakes? You may see for yourself the value of taking refuge in sangha eyes to guide your perceptions; of taking refuge in the practices, mindfulness trainings and sutras for guidance in order to apply the energy of mindfulness to the energy of suffering. This exercise is a wonderful one that all of us can do. The practice of mindfulness comes alive as a highly strategic set of tools and skills to produce transformation of the suffering caused by difficult and painful circumstances. Life is full of crises, curve balls and disasters. But even so, we do not have to be overwhelmed, hooked and crushed by them. Mindfulness practice helps us. Understanding and compassion hone our skills so that we become excellent gardeners of the mind.

The importance of taking refuge is to make fully alive the reality that we inter-are. We are never alone once we realize that Interbeing is a basic law of nature and of the Universe. Our scale of difficult circumstance runs through a vast range. The suffering and pain can be from a divorce, a son addicted to drugs, loss of a job, the death of a loved one, childhood abuse or brutal discrimination. The suffering can also be there from the situation in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis. The dharma detective operates well in all domains – personal, national, international – providing an instrument to focus our mindfulness, concentration and insight to whatever difficulty we suffer from.

Ian is the resident Zen teacher at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community in the west end of Ottawa, Canada. Teachings and dharma study are offered on Thursdays 7.00pm – 9.00pm.
Pine Gate Meditation Hall

Winter Study Session at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community


Winter Study Session at Pine Gate  Mindfulness Community                               

Pine Gate is a meditation community practicing Engaged Buddhism inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama and Sulak Sivaraksa – great teachers for our present times. It has created an engaged expression for peace, social justice and planetary care, as the community is the nucleus of Friends for Peace Canada, which now has a page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/friendsforpeacecanada  The coalition, with Pine Gate at the core, has created annual events to celebrate peace, social justice and planetary care. Fierce Light of Engaged Buddhism in practice.  Pine Gate is also on Facebook – check it out and click “Like” if it appeals: https://www.facebook.com/pinegatesangha  On YouTube there is a new Pine Gate Channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/pinegatesangha  


I am the resident teacher at Pine Gate and founder of Friends for Peace. I now prefer to stay local to help move things just a little bit, so that good things continue to happen spontaneously in my home city of Ottawa, Canada. With lots of help along the path. I am a poet, scholar, peace and environmental activist.  As a professor at Carleton University from 1970 to 2007 I taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Globalization and Consciousness – reflected in the 2008 book: Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves.  As a meditation teacher I encourage people to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed.  I have trained with masters in Buddhist, Vedic and Shamanic traditions.


Pine Gate, located in the west end of Ottawa, had very modest beginnings.  Inaugurated in 1997 following my return from teaching meditation in India, early gatherings featured my wife Carolyn, me and our pets – Nikki the dog and Lady the cat.  Since then the sangha has grown in numbers and depth.  In the summer of 2001 major renovations took place to the lower level of our home.  A new meditation hall emerged from the dust and knocked down walls – the Pine Gate Meditation Hall – named after Thich Nhat Hanh’s story in the book: The Stone Boy and Other Stories. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh provided a gift of calligraphy, naming The Pine Gate Meditation Hall.  This now hangs on the wall for all to see.  The new meditation hall has become a source of sanctuary for many friends,

There are regular meetings for meditation and study every Thursday evening from 7.00pm – 9.00pm.  The first Saturday of every month has a Mindfulness Gathering from 5.00pm – 8.00pm for dharma and a mindful meal. Duong Sinh – Bamboo Stick Qi-gong classes, known as the Life Sustaining Way of the Heart, are offered in addition to regular qi-gong classes throughout the year. Potluck vegetarian suppers, Hikes, Sweat Lodges, Pilgrimages, Days of Mindfulness, and Meditation Retreats are organized on a regular basis.  There are three seasons at Pine Gate – Fall Study Session from September to December: Winter Study Session from January to May; Lazy Days of Summer Session from July to August.

“Our engagement with society and the environment rests on our quality of being. When that quality is rooted in stillness there is a different ground for subsequent actions and so events take a different course. We simply go home to our true nature. We are very active in this way and bring harmony to those we interact with. The most significant interaction is with our true nature. To connect to its boundless quality in daily life, and then to connect to others and the world in the same way is surely the ticket to ride!”

In 2014 our program continues with the “Fully Alive” retreat by Pema Chodron as the main study of the Winter Study Session beginning on Thursday January 16, 2014, 7.00pm – 9.00pm. The Fall Study Session provided some deep and pithy dharma from Pema Chodron. It was interspersed with talks from me on Engaged Buddhism, Consciousness, Judgement, The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Be Alone and the Science of Mantra.  Deep Relaxation with Carolyn and a Five Mindfulness Trainings Recitation rounded things out.

The Fully Alive retreat is on 2 DVD’s and totals 5 hours. We begin the Winter Session with Talk 4. The book – Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron – is the text. Folk are encouraged to get a copy – either from Singing Pebble or Serendipity bookstores in Ottawa.  The second DVD and discussion sessions will be interspersed with the Buddha’s Foundation Teachings, plus important ceremonies such as a Tea Ceremony to stir the pot of dharma. The focus on the “Fully Alive” retreat addresses the difficult times we are in. Life sometimes seems like a roiling and turbulent river threatening to drown us. Why, in the face of that, shouldn’t we cling to the safety of the shore – to our comfortably familiar patterns and habits? Pema Chodron teaches: that kind of fear-based clinging leads only to greater suffering. In this recorded retreat, based on the program “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change” she provides a wealth of wisdom for learning to step right into the river, to be completely, fearlessly, present even in the hardest times, the most difficult situations. It’s the secret of being fully alive. When we learn to let go of our protective patterns and do that, we begin to see not only how much better it feels to live that way, but, as a wonderful side effect, we find that we begin to naturally and effectively reach out to others in care and support. The teachings and practices include:

1. A teaching – based on Native American prophecy – for cultivating the ability to take nothing personally.

2. A guided meditation for developing patience in the midst of irritation.

3. A curiosity practice to release your mind from old habits.

4. Tips for accessing your innate strength and confidence – simply by altering your posture.

5. Ways to make your practice the impetus for serving others.”

Meditation Guidance from Pema Chodron:
1. First of all – come into the present. Be aware of what is happening with you right now.
2. Be fully aware of your body, its energetic quality.
3. Be fully aware of your thoughts and emotions.
4. Feel your heart, place your hand on your heart. Accept yourself just as you are.
5. Go into the next moment w/o any agenda
6. Now deal with an incident that has hurt or alarmed you
7. Just be with the pain of it.
8. Ask yourself – am I going to dwell on who/what caused this suffering or am I going to take care of it?
9. Come back to the pain and just be with it
10. Ask yourself – who is running the show – all my fears, negative thoughts, blaming and judgements or the best that is in me?
11. Make a conscious choice – the best in me
12. Summon your resources of Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity – The Buddha’s Teachings on Love.
13. Come back and be with the pain
13. Place Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity in a practice – Walking Meditation, 4 Brahmaviharas Meditation, Touching the Earth etc
14. Come back to your heart – place your hand on your heart.
15. Breathe and smile.

For a glimpse – take a look at the video of the talk on Consciousness and Judgement: