Tag Archives: Feelings

CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTINCTION

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

Climate Change and Extinction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

Great Review for Poetry

Another Great Review – OnlineBookClub.org

ORDER BOOK: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html

Painting with Words by Ian Prattis is a collection of poems written at different times throughout the writer’s life. This collection is divided into six parts each one with a different theme. Every part is unique and deeply emotional with an extraordinary aesthetic that I’ve never come across in poetry before.

I really enjoyed the variety of themes, feelings, and lessons I received by reading this book. The first part “Bittersweet” is, in my opinion, the most melancholic. It’s the dark side of the poet who seeks consolation in writing poems to overcome his frustration and sadness. Soon after that, our writer takes us to wonderful landscapes to calm our troubled souls. “Painting with words” is the second part, and it’s literally a series of beautiful images illustrated with words. This part is a great reminder of how beautiful our world is if we just stop and behold it for a while. My personal favorite part is “Speaking of True Love”. As a romantic soul myself, I couldn’t help but adore each and every poem in this part. I could clearly see the depths of the poet’s love for his wife since every poem of this part is inspired by her. She is obviously his muse, and they have a beautiful love story that makes every poem even more sentimental and meaningful. The other parts are “Agua Viva”, “Footsteps of Buddha”, and “Ancient Wisdom”. I won’t give more details of these ones as I want readers to discover for themselves the rest of this collection.

What I can say though, is that after you finish reading this book you’ll probably find yourselves knowing the poet like he is your old friend. Every part is a different piece of Prattis’ puzzled life. He made sure to share every emotion and experience he had with us, and I think that is really brave and beautiful.

Reading this book was definitely an emotional roller coaster. The first part almost made me cry, especially the poem “ The Old Mare”. Some poems will make you think and others will put a smile on your face without realizing it. I’m sure everyone would find a poem to his liking in this collection. Furthermore, what I really appreciated while I was reading this book, was that the author, before every part, wrote an introduction. In those introductions, he explains why he wrote each poem, what inspired him, and what he was trying to achieve by writing it. This is extremely helpful because many times I find myself devaluing a poem since I can’t understand what it means. I also got to know the mentality of the poet better. I also loved the fact that the book starts with a poem dedicated to a Muse. This used to be a custom back in Ancient Greece when poets and writers asked inspiration from the Muse of writing. As a Greek, I’m very honored that a foreign poet decided to do that as well.

Overall, it’s clear to see that I loved every minute of reading Painting with Words. There was nothing not to like in this collection of poems. I actually read it twice, and I’m planning on reading it many more times. Moreover, I was pleased to see that it was exceptionally well edited. Thus, I’m happily giving this book 4 out of 4 stars. For those of you who love poetry, you should definitely give it a try. However, please keep in mind that some of those poems have curse words and some are hard to understand, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to an underage audience. Last but not least, many of these poems represent a Buddhist lifestyle and interpretation, so if you are offended by that, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this collection.

******
Painting with Words 
View: on Bookshelves

Smash Hit for Poetry Volume

Five Star Review

Reviewed By Kathryn Bennett for Readers’ Favorite

Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era by Ian Prattis is a collection of poems that is split into six parts, each part having its own distinct theme. This collection of poems takes the reader through the full gamut of human emotions. The author has masterfully used his own life experience to transport the reader through this journey, while striving to leave a mark directly on the reader’s heart. Take the spiritual journey with the author and you may find yourself on your own journey as well.

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. The poems within this book are clearly very personal and strike right at the heart of the journey the author himself has taken in life, and yet it also has an ability to resound with others. The title painting with words is truly a perfect description of this poetry collection; 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. 

ORDER BOOK: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html

5 Star Roll for “Painting With Words”

Another 5 Star Review of Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era by Ian Prattis

 BOOK REVIEW

Five Stars 

 Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Painting With Words, Poetry for a New Era is a book of inspirational verses written and compiled by poet Ian Prattis. Shying away from the old fashioned traditions of symbolism and imagery, the work expresses an emotional outcry in a raw and direct form, creating powerful auditory moments to express the highs and lows of the human condition, as our author sees and experiences them. The work is separated into six themed sections, travelling through different moments in recent history as the author experiences them, reflects upon them, and reaches different emotional conclusions along his journey to full discovery. What results is a work which runs the full spectrum of emotional consideration, taking a singular, personal experience and reaching for the qualities which make it universal to all.

One of the things which I found unexpectedly delightful about this work was the strong and recurrent connection to nature that Ian Prattis strives for. Whilst many of the works pertain to some of humanity’s most unkind acts towards one another, unveiling the true greed and violence we are capable of as a species, others look beyond these base defects to consider the potential for good that we have if we can reconnect our spirits to nature. The poems are direct in address, but spiritual and philosophical in the message which they leave lingering afterwards. Overall, Painting With Words, Poetry for a New Era, presents an optimistic new viewpoint with a clear and engaging emotional progression of how it came to be.

 “Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era” Order through: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html  To avoid shipping costs, Ottawa area friends can get a signed copy directly from the author –your purchase enables you to take home a prior book or Meditation CD home for FREE, as a special thank you.

 

5 STAR Review of “Painting with Words”

Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era 

BOOK REVIEW

 5 Star – Reviewed By Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite                                                 

 Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era by Ian Prattis is a collection of poems that are thematically arranged and that reflect the very soul of humanity, filled with imagery and rhythms that mimic the different seasons of the human soul. The poems in this collection bear witness to what readers feel, perhaps in the hushed hours of the day; emotions, thoughts, feelings, and realities for which they find no language. This poet succeeds in capturing moments of reality that allow readers to connect with the things he writes about. The voice is powerful, the poetic lines rhythmic, and the entire collection is filled with powerful imagery. I love the depth in Ian Prattis’ poetry and the beauty in the rhythm and the richness of its diction. For instance: “A week in the life/ of a poem/ has words racing to knowing’s edge.” Here is another: “Phrases creep / over the dawn of logic, / suspended, then gone.”

Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era opens new portals into reality. It is highly imaginative and the author articulates brilliantly on a variety of themes, from denouncing the horrors of war, to celebrating the seemingly mundane moments of life, to capturing the relationship between humanity and nature. Each poem is unique, expressing a thought, a reality, a moment in existence in a succinct manner. Some of the poems are very personal while others are universal in nature. This collection is as delightful as it is meaningful. You will read these poems and find yourself going back to them.

“Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era” Order through: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html  To avoid shipping costs, Ottawa area friends can get a signed copy directly from the author –your purchase enables you to take home a prior book or Meditation CD home for FREE, as a special thank you.

 

 

Finding the Poetic Voice.

During my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo, with Voluntary Service Overseas, I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds and how I was feeling. From that time on I scribbled poetry wherever I went, eventually accumulating trunks full of poems that reminded me of the experiences, particularly those later in India.  My extensive shamanic training with incredible First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged, and those notes were a sign post 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 somewhat stifling. When I started late on the writing craft – I had to re-learn how to write without sounding pompous. I gave up on footnotes!

My challenging journey through life navigated shamanic healing of childhood sexual abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an ashram in India. From this vast range of experience I developed an ability to sculpt narrative in a novel way and this was expressed in my poetry and books. My life as a global traveller certainly stretched my attention beyond any limits I could have placed on it. Expansion of mind was inescapable. I certainly stumbled through the first part of life, but then stood strong in my own sovereignty in the latter part. 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. I live very simply as a planetary activist. As a Zen teacher my initial task was to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge.

My book – Redemption – was first written in 1975. 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. When I rediscovered it forty years later I could scarcely believe my eyes. Anita Rizvi had this to say….  “Redemption is a riveting chronicle of one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation.” She goes on to say, “What is so exquisite is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition . . . When the main character’s journey takes him ever closer to the abyss, the author refuses to ‘sanitize’ his experiences.

It is important for me to remain true in telling the grittier and more difficult aspects of a poem or story, also to touch the mystical elements that led to it being transposed to written form. Yet in 1975 I was writing way over my head and lacked the maturity to understand the deep nuances emerging from my pen. The book was writing me and it is fitting that it was not published until 2014, as 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 in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. The surprise for me in 2014 was how I could have written such a powerful poetic novel while in a desperate state of mind. The themes of mental illness and alcoholism are writ large in this deep and turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation. Redemption is an allegory for the depression and life difficulties I once experienced, though I did not realize it at that time.

From the rhapsody of an idyllic childhood through traumatic tragedies to the derelict zone of alcoholism and then to a state of awakening – I depict the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to “Redemption.” The poetic voice in the book is a lyrical and moving tale of struggle, love, loss, transformation and hope. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and human nature. Its starkly gorgeous and remote island setting creates and reinforces the central themes of struggle, family, community and wonder at the beauty of the world. Its rich cast of characters offers numerous gripping interludes that brim with complex interpersonal drama. Relationships with people, land and sea skilfully brings the poetry out.

In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America: Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry cultures implode. Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary aboriginal 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, consciousness, and re-write some of Carl Jung’s psychology. I chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. I am not good at sitting down and writing four pages a day. I wait until the spiritual energy is present within me, then I write. Sometimes this is frustrating, as I want to get on with it, but when I do not stay still and wait – I simply write garbage! So I use the in-between times to do research and edit. When the energy is sparkling, the writing flows effortlessly.  I do not consider this as a necessary template for others. It is just what works for me to connect to the Muse within.  I trust that far more than any impatience.

My books are screenplay-worthy epic tales that weave together seamlessly to create inspiration. Global citizens are staring into the abyss. 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. Turning on 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 life to find the courage and determination to transform. All of this funnels back into my writing.

The stories I tell in my poetry and books are offered as a gift to our planet. My purpose in life 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. My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become responsible stewards of the earth and society.

Books at http://www.ianprattis.com 

Cyberbullying in Schools and Teenage Suicide

Cyberbullying in Schools and Teenage Suicide

The triggers for teenage suicide were brought to my attention through a drastic and dangerous situation with one of my young friends. He had slipped into a deep depression caused primarily by being bullied at school and was seriously contemplating suicide. His father had phoned me in alarm and I suggested that his son come and stay with my wife and I for a while. This would take the heat out of the situation. I also had a long conversation over the phone with the young man without mentioning the word “Suicide.” I talked to him about our kayaking adventures and other things that I knew would bring some joy and happiness to his mind. These were the first steps to transform the hurricane force of his strong feelings and emotions that led him to consider suicide. Over the phone I also taught him a simple meditation about being a tall tree. He was open to Buddhist “stuff” through my and his dad’s practice and somewhat curious about both of us! The analogy I used for the meditation was that of a storm of strong winds coming up and shaking the tree tops and breaking branches, while the bottom of the tree trunk stays solid. So that when something arose like a strong wind to hurt him, to think of these things as the tall branches being damaged by strong winds. If he placed his hands on his tummy and breathed deeply in and out to this trunk for ten breaths, then his distress and anger would slowly calm down. He then accepted my invitation to come and stay with us. I also learned over the phone with this youngster that what destroyed him the most was cyberbullying from anonymous sources.

I had no knowledge or insights about cyberbullying. Before he arrived in Ottawa, I consulted with savvy school councillors across the country. I learned that cyberbullying was now an everyday reality for teenagers in schools. I was shocked by the ramifications of the dark shadow of cyberbullying and by the fact that a whole generation of school children had grown up with it. Most adults were as ignorant as I about the intensity of hate and cruelty crashing through the virtual world of cell phones, twitter, chat rooms and email. Cyberbullying had become an everyday mosaic in the life of teens. The field they played in was a free-for-all virtual reality for immature minds to vent their spite, malice, hatred and cruelty without restraint–simply because they could-as they hid behind a veil of anonymity. The impact on victims was very severe leading to breakdown, depression and sometimes to death through suicide. I learned from multiples sources that cyberbullying, mental issues and depression were a huge issue in most schools across the nation. Parents and teachers were often completely unaware of this odious shadow playing out in schools. With this new and alarming knowledge I knew I had to present to this young teen some simple practices, even if their source was complex.

This prompted me to think deeply about what Buddhist practices would be useful to ground the troubled minds of teens so they could resist cyberbullying and prevent being pulled into self-hurt. I had to be selective and intelligent about mindfulness practice. Strategic too, so that it would be readily grasped by a young teen. It was clear to me that cyberbullying was a malicious enhancement of unworthiness and hate. Many teens played both sides of this virtual reality, victim and bully, so rampant and vicious was this spectre of hate. I started to talk to my young friend about foundation practices I used every day and how they might help to calm his mind when he was troubled. He really got the Two Arrows Teaching from the Buddha. In a nutshell this teaching is about a man walking along a path when suddenly he is hit by an arrow fired by a hidden and unknown attacker. The pain was terrible. Then a second arrow was fired into the same spot and the pain and suffering became unbearable. I asked him if he knew who fired the second arrow. He slowly nodded his head and said: “That would be me. All my fears and insecurities would come up to inflame the hurt of the first arrow.” I was very impressed. I told him that he was exactly correct, that our fears, anxieties, exaggerations and dramas inflame the first wound, causing a small ember to explode into a raging forest fire. The point of the teaching was to assist him and me to come to a STOP, to calm the mind and body. Then find a way to NOT fire the second arrow into a trigger that had hurt us. Buddhism was not such a drag after all.

My wife and I had picked him up from the airport in Ottawa and made him completely at home. At first there was no mention of his depression and strong urge to commit suicide. My wife fed him with mounds of food. It seemed that he emptied the fridge at least twice a day. He could sleep in as long as he needed to and rest. On occasions he would join me in the meditation hall in the basement of our bungalow. He was curious about my practice, so I taught him how to make good friends with his breath, concentrating on the whole length of the in-breath and the whole length of the out-breath. That if he would do that ten times without distraction he would feel calm. He also joined in when I did walking meditation. Here the breath was co-ordinated with each footstep and a simple mantra to follow each breath.
IN – OUT, with left foot and right foot.
NOW – WOW! With left foot and right foot.
He smiled at that. Furthermore, when I added the final concentration of being aware of how our feet touch the floor-heel/ball of foot/toe-he could in fact align himself with Earth Energies. I told him that this part of walking meditation was very important, as it was the catalyst for the strong earth energy already inside his mind to come to the surface. And that this energy was stronger than his troubled feelings and emotions. He looked at me quizzically as I provided a demonstration. Then when he practiced it, he found it to be OK. He related, much later, that walking meditation was the best for him, as he felt a sense of steadiness and of being refreshed. Over the two weeks he stayed with us his visits to the meditation hall were intermittent but by the second week he came down every morning in his pyjamas to keep me company in the meditation hall.

Ian at Pine Gate

Once he got dressed each morning and after a late breakfast, I would take him to the various science and technical museums in the city, as that was his passion along with First Nations culture. Fortunately in Ottawa I knew several curators, one at the Aviation Museum and one at the Museum of Civilization, which had the Grand Hall of North West Coast Cultures. My friends in the museums kindly gave him individual tours. I could see his sense of self-esteem rising with the tours and kindness. He was over the moon about receiving such special attention. We were gladdening his mind – a vital point that arises later.

We played board games, charades and kept on gladdening his mind. This was a vital step in the Buddha’s teaching on mindful breathing. He meditated with me quite often and each time we would do the Tree Meditation together. When the time felt right I asked him if he would like to talk to me about what was going on. He told me about three boys who bullied him at school. He also felt that they were behind the cyberbullying, though he had no proof. Also, that neither of his parents really listened to him. I listened quietly until he finished talking. Then I picked up the telephone and found the number of his school and talked to his vice-principal for a while. She was very open and supportive and had already taken steps to separate the three bullies, keeping two in detention during every recess. I also telephoned his parents and reminded them about deep listening, which they promised to put into practice with their troubled son. This boy had listened to the phone calls and was amazed at the support for him that was being galvanized right before his eyes.

I also brought to his attention that his father and mother were deeply worried and doing their best for him. That if he decided to “off” himself, his father, mother and little sisters would be devastated. He genuinely did not want any of that to happen. We also talked about emotions and feelings overtaking us. He totally understood that he was letting one or two strong emotions get him down, when he had so many others to choose from. I managed to convince him that his feelings and emotions were not fixed. They are self-created in his mind by triggers. That in fact we sort of make it all up as we go along and often increase the impact of triggers. The trick, I told him, is to notice when we are getting stuck on one or two heavy emotions. Then we ask ourselves: “Do I want to go there, knowing what it will lead to?” I repeatedly emphasized that with this kind of awareness we can begin to stop the process of causing harm to ourselves. He really got this. His understanding was that triggers such as cyberbullying were a spark. He could either stamp it out or create a raging forest fire. He had turned the Two Arrows teaching into a personal tool and clearly understood the difference between responding rather than reacting. He was a smart teen.

I introduced him to parts of the Buddha’s teachings about the mindful use of the breath. The focus was on his feelings, emotions and mind. Keeping it simple, I outlined the sixteen breathing exercises that focus mindfulness, concentration and insight first on the body, then on feelings and emotions, then on the mind (mental formations) and finally on objects of mind (perceptions). The Buddha starts with the body where the brain and consciousness are located. The point of this teaching is to take us through each avenue of investigation so we grow stronger and gain some control over our emotions and thoughts. Then we can begin to recognize the triggers that can cause harm to us. The exercises were a systematic package to retrain his troubled mind. There were two aspects of the teaching that I brought to him – that was enough.

The second group of four breathing exercises provided an intelligent focus for his feelings and emotions. We studied them for a while.
5. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of experiencing joy.
6. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of experiencing happiness.
7. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of my painful feelings.
8. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of calming painful feelings.
Then we spoke at length about how we all love our dramas and allow ego-distortion to run rampant with our feelings and emotions creating all kinds of out-of-control reactions. However, if we can catch our dramas fuelled by painful mental formations, we can do an end run around our suffering by NOT firing the second arrow into our pain. We can go deeper and learn how to respond rather than react. We see how our feelings actually condition the mind. Feelings are totally normal. It is simply a matter of having the stability of mind not to be overwhelmed by them.

I showed him that he could skilfully use his breath to focus in on the experience of joy and happiness (Exercises 5 and 6). That deeply nurtures our feelings and emotions, creating a steadiness within, providing a foundation to bring awareness and calm to his mind. Exercises 7 and 8, recognizing and calming, provide a preventive measure to transform the hurricane force of strong emotions, a very important message to send to all young people contemplating suicide. The first two exercises nurture and sustain our positive feelings, so we can realize that we are much more than one feeling. So why allow one or two feelings or emotions to take us down into the hell of despair, loneliness and suffering? I asked him to write down the main feelings and emotions that drove him to think about suicide. There were three. Then I asked him to write down all the other feelings inside him. He took his time and wrote down thirty. Then I showed him the two figures, three versus thirty. He nodded his head and remarked “I get it. It’s an absurd decision.” I told him that feelings are just one thing focussed upon by the Buddha to show that the methodology of the sutra works. And that a good strategy is to use Exercises 7 and 8 to bring relief to being overwhelmed by strong emotions.

If the reader understands all of this and puts this understanding into practice then he can see that the particular emotion that is overwhelming him, making her dysfunctional, is just one emotion in their vast ocean of consciousness. This insight undermines the predisposition to be totally crushed by one or two emotions, as there are so many positive emotions we can play with. This is important for young people to know about, as they can quickly go into despair and even suicide when overwhelmed by emotions of fear and unworthiness. There is another group of four exercises that I felt were very important. They dealt directly with what was in his mind.

9. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of my mental formations.
10. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of gladdening my mental formations.
11. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of concentrating on the nutriments that feed my damaging mental formations.
12. Skilfully training myself – breathing in and breathing out, aware of liberating my mind by not feeding damaging mental formations.
This is what I told him after he had read through the four exercises with me. In Exercise 9 we use our breath to recognize, and then look deeply at thoughts arising in our mind. Exercise 10 gladdens the mind. This is a wonderful exercise as we deliberately provide the mind with nourishment to become stronger. Deep in our consciousness there exist many positive and wholesome seeds of potential just waiting for an opportunity to manifest in our mind. So we gladden the mind by taking conscious steps with our thoughts and intentions to water the seeds of Love, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity and other concentrations, so that this good stuff occupies the mind. Furthermore, we take positive action by organizing our everyday living so that external circumstances further the nourishment of the wholesome seeds latent in our deep consciousness. I stressed that we become very attentive about not dwelling on unwholesome seeds like hate, cruelty, despair, anger, jealousy and greed. In effect we are re-writing the programs in our consciousness that can be activated by ego to take us into the realm of suffering and harm.

Nothing survives in our mind without our allowing the flow of nutriments and energy to feed whatever occupies our mind. In Exercise 11 we investigate the nutriments that fed harmful notions in our mind, seeing them as an energy that requires some serious surgery. It is like cutting the affliction away. Once we become aware of the causes that feed our negative thoughts we can immediately reduce their potency. We first of all recognize the triggers that kept the affliction in our mind alive. And we realize the negative affliction is there because we are feeding it. This is followed by Exercise 12, liberating the mind whereby we choose to cease feeding the harmful mental formations by cutting off the nutriments that fuels them with energy. We stop feeding our demons – and they become afraid because they realize that you have got their number! And it is Number 12. There were lots of questions which I answered in his form of language. He eventually understood these weighty concepts..

This quartet of exercises played a big part in in this young teen’s rehabilitation. The focus by my wife and I on gladdening his mind was vital for him to eventually see that he could change the internal CD’s he listened to. We had listened carefully to him in order to identify the nutriments that fed his impetus towards suicide and then did our best to encourage him to eliminate them, so he could stop feeding the nutriments that inflamed his damaging mental formations. After emptying our fridge one day and finding it bare he started to laugh and said – “Nothing survives without food!” He got it and I was very proud of him and told him so. He had learned very valuable tools from this teaching and found some balance and steadiness.

The “treatment plan” from my wife and I was not in any way codified or formalized. In fact, we did not really have a plan per se. On reflection, I saw some key factors that are useful to highlight. They are not offered as a recipe for all situations of potential suicide by teenagers in schools. The causes of the desperate contemplation of suicide are complex and each situation has to be dealt with uniquely. Nor do I think it is always possible for the components of the adventure with this young man to be replicated in other circumstances. This young man had a prior exposure to Buddhist practice that helped him to be open to methods of breathing and walking that a street kid would find somewhat alien. Cyberbullying is a new phenomenon for our times, scarcely twenty years old. It affects all strata of society, not just teens, through online forums, listserves, social media and other internet vehicles that provide a semblance of anonymity for the perpetrators. The explosive birth of cyberbullying coincided with the ramification of distraction technologies. Cell Phones, chat rooms, ipads and the internet created an ecosystem of interruption technologies that many teens have become addicted to. They crave a global interconnect directed by this virtual world, yet rarely know how to use it responsibly so that harm is not done to others. In less than a generation the world has been fundamentally changed by this virtual reality and we have yet to catch up with its consequences. Nor are there sufficient failsafes and regulations for curbing cyberbullying. Parents and councillors are scrambling to deal with it and parenting skills have to adapt radically in order to protect our young children. Thankfully, an organization of dedicated educators-The Mindfulness in Education Network-has taken huge strides over the past decade to turn the tide through the development of mindfulness education programs for all levels of the school system. Their reach is expanding across North America and the planet. My fervent wish is that their efforts are not too little, too late.

 

The bottom line, however, is that distracted people do not realize they are in so much danger. I am reminded of a terse view from Rumi:
“Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.”
Neuroscientist Nicholas Carr in his book The Shallows (2011) documents a vast amount of scientific evidence that excessive use of the internet impairs precious human mental capacities. Margaret Wheatley (2013) writes:
“We have made this world into an unpredictable monster because we’ve refused to work with it intelligently. And the ultimate sacrifice is the future.”
There are many other reputable sources bringing attention to an issue that is overwhelming. We need many antidotes, especially as young people see before their eyes on a daily basis many forms of systemic cyberbullying – from Negative Political Attack Ads, Facebook rants to brutal Twitter attacks. Are these aspects of modern society any different from the anonymity of sitting behind a computer spewing out violent malice, simply because they can? Think about it.

This is why I refer to our cobbled together “treatment plan” because it worked. It evolved on a daily basis and I think it was effective for several reasons. Having this youngster leave a troubled environment was a great start. Consulting with his parents about his home situation was crucial. Surrounding him with love, attention and deep listening was a vital key. Teaching him how to be calm, in control of his feelings, and taking back his power through the teachings was an effective strategy. It worked well, as he has grown into a mature, thoughtful and caring young man. He was prepared to notice the behavior of cruel distractions that devastated him and then take steps to try something different. I pray that other teens suffering from cyberbullying will be so open.

Acknowledgements
Thanks to Leonard Poole and Catherine Cosstick for their critical eyes on this essay. And to:
Carr, Nicholas, 2011, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Minds.
Wheatley, Margaret, 2013, Living in the Age of Distraction. Shambhala Sun May, 2013.
Mindfulness in Education Network: MiEN@yahoogroups.com

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