Tag Archives: Planetary Care

Friends for Peace Day in Ottawa

13th ANNUAL FRIENDS FOR PEACE DAY

Saturday, September 26, 2015, 12 noon – 3.30pm (Doors open at 11)

Jean Pigott Place, Ottawa City Hall                         

www.friendsforpeace.ca

My full time job this summer is organizing a big event in Ottawa City Hall – the 13th annual Friends for Peace Day. This has been my job for over a decade. This year the event is held in Jean Pigott Place, inside City Hall, on Saturday September 26, from 11am to 3.30pm.

This year the event was held in Jean Pigott Place, inside Ottawa City Hall, on Saturday September 26 from 11am to 3.30pm.  And what an event took place. Onstage the mellow harmonies from The Valley Men choir set the scene, followed by Romy Mounzer – Ottawa’s answer to Whitney Houston. Lalith Gunaratne spoke eloquently about reconciliation in Sri Lanka, a model to break down barriers and cross bridges of hatred and separation. The string ensemble from OrKidstra dazzled, as did the Awards and Peace Grant ceremony that honored the work of Jurme Wangda for Tibetan Resettlement and to Coleen Scott for providing education and opportunity for the Karen people in Thailand.

The Circle of All Nations was a reality – represented by cultures, faiths, languages from across the planet. Kirtan from the Bhakti Connection, exquisite harp from Lucille Hildesheim and the Diversity of Color Miramba band brought the music and dance of Zimbabwe to close this year’s event at Ottawa City Hall. It was a fabulous day with the best ever performances. Everything excelled. We honored our elders, the many communities and the terrific volunteers who make it all possible. The support that poured in was unbelievable – donations to the Servery and Silent Auction by the diversity of Ottawa was heartfelt. Folk left full – not just with great food and bargains – but with a feeling that “YES” we can do it.

Friends for Peace is moving into a different focus, rather than the Friends for Peace Day, which takes up a lot of time and energy. We have decided to focus on specific projects with other organizations. For instance our first collaboration is with two church groups who are organizing events and awareness to bring Syrian refugee families to Ottawa. This is specific and the organizers are committed to making change. While the Friends for Peace Day provided great entertainment and brought community together – I would like to see more of a knock on effect. That – yes – folk are moving onto action.  So we are entering a new phase, which I think will be exciting and more effective. Stay tuned.

2012 Event - packed! (2)

It all started on a bitterly cold winter evening years ago, as the Iraq war loomed. I received notice that a Peace Song Circle was happening on Parliament Hill. So I went, accompanied by my wife Carolyn and our dog. No-one else turned up. I remarked to Carolyn, “This is a good idea – it just needs to be organized.” She replied, “Let’s do it.” And so we did and created the nucleus for Friends for Peace Canada.  It quickly grew to a loose coalition of 50 organizations and we asked them to begin the peace process first of all with themselves, then to the community and the world.  Our mandate evolved so that we gave annual Peace Grants to local and international organizations making a real difference, as well as working in concert with other coalitions in the city for environmental and social justice issues.  I also decided at that time to concentrate my energy and efforts locally, feeling that these efforts could infuse global networks from the epicentre created there. I had received many invitations to be a global speaker and teacher, yet felt that a concentration on my home city of Ottawa was the primary focus. I responded to the many international invitations with a gracious decline. I was inspired to devote my time and energy to moving things just a little bit in my city, so that more good things could begin to happen spontaneously. As I soon discovered, there were many good friends across the city more than happy to make this possible.

Ian and Peace Award recipients 2013

We organized 5,000 participants at the Peace Song Circle on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, held on a miserably wet, cold spring day in 2003. A sea of multi-coloured umbrellas on a rain swept morning welcomed all those gathered. As other peace protests joined us and sang “All Within Me Peaceful,” the crowd covered the grounds of Canada’s seat of government, all meditating at the end in total silence as the rain poured down on our heads. The pouring rain was strangely welcome, for it symbolized the tears of Iraqi children, my tears, your tears – transformed into hope through singing for peace with one another and experiencing deep peace. There was a transformation of anger, anguish and violence into a determined clarity to be peace and to oppose war. From there we know the wise actions to take. Those who are waging war would do better if they knew better; but they don’t know better.

Every year since the relentless rain on Parliament Hill, the annual Friends for Peace Days have been memorable. We got rained and snowed on for several years on Parliament Hill, thunder and lightning at Alumni Park of Carleton University – before we moved inside to Jean Pigott Place in Ottawa City Hall. The response to this community activism has blown everyone away, as it went beyond any of our expectations!!

The Friends for Peace Day is an awesome, diverse, unique Ottawa experience.  It is made possible by the generosity of volunteers and supporters and the diversity of Ottawa who show up to have a good time, be educated and inspired. The Friends for Peace Day creates an epicentre of intent and action – intense at times as people are moved to both tears and laughter.  It is fun, poignant and direct. The intensity and joy ripples through the diversity – all generations, faiths and cultures in our northern city. The force of the epicentre roars through the community and activist tables, Muslim families, Asian groups, elders, young folk and the volunteers. The diversity of Ottawa gathers, listens, dances, laughs, cries – and takes home an unforgettable experience of hope and confidence. The family grows bigger each year. All Nations, All Traditions – A Circle of Friendship www.friendsforpeace.ca I  love my summer job. It is such a rewarding experience.

Ian and Cheeky Child September 26 2015 (3)

 

 

 

Buddhist Online Journal Goes Blogging Ballistic

After thirteen years of presenting a standard online journal Pine Gate Mindfulness Community has taken it to a new blog format thanks to Br. Yves. This permits interaction and feedback on each item, enabling a discourse not possible before. It enhances the graphic/ photo content enormously and is in sync with the links and perks that online offers.

The URL: http://pinegate.wordpress.com/pine-gate-newsletter-autumn-2014/ is essentially the Table of Contents, which contains links to the different articles in the present issue.  Each article on WordPress is actually a blog post. We hope it works. Onwards – lightly and beautifully with Pine Gate Volume 13, Issue 3: Fall 2014,

Ian Prattis – editor

Yves Desnoyers – production editor

PINE GATE MINDFULNESS COMMUNITY                                                                       

Pine Gate is a Zen Buddhist community practicing Engaged Buddhism inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama and Sulak Sivaraksa. It has created an engaged expression for peace, social justice and planetary care as the community is the nucleus of Friends for Peace. The coalition, with Pine Gate at the core, has since created annual events to celebrate peace, social justice and planetary care. The resident teacher is Dharmacharya Ian Prattis – True Body of Wisdom. Ian is a poet, scholar, peace and environmental activist.  As a professor at Carleton University he taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Globalization and Consciousness – reflected in his 2008 book: Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves. As an ordained meditation teacher he encourages people to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed.  He has 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 Ian’s return from teaching meditation in India, early gatherings featured Ian, his wife Carolyn, and their pets – Nikki the dog and Lady the cat.  Since then it has blossomed into a very vibrant community. In the summer of 2001 major renovations took place to the lower level of Ian and Carolyn’s 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 three seasons at Pine Gate – the Fall Study Session from September to December, the Winter Study Session from January to May, and the Lazy Days of Summer program from July to August. June is recess and quiet time.

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

There are regular meetings for meditation and study every Thursday evening from 7.00pm – 9.00pm.  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.  The voice of the sangha can be heard through its Quarterly Buddhist Journal – Pine Gate – which appears three times a year. Quirky!.

“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!” 

Website: http://www.ianprattis.com/PineGate/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pinegatesangha

DIRECTIONS TO THE PINE GATE MEDITATION HALL:

In Ottawa, take Queensway to Woodroffe South exit; go to Baseline Rd; RT on Baseline; RT on Highgate (2nd lights) RT on Westbury; LT on Rideout and follow the Crescent round to 1252, which is always lit up with Christmas lights in the winter and full of flowers in the summer.  Tel: 613 726 0881

Contacts: iprattis@bell.net ; carolyn.hill@bell.net 

 

On The Road Again… 2 Books and a CD

Book Reading & Signing in Orlando, Florida, USA 

Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 3 – 4:30 pm:

    • 9222 Charles E Limpus Rd, Orlando, Fl 32836
    • Contact Pam Allen: 407 353 2000 PAllen1236@aol.com
    • Ian will introduce his two recently released books that throw light on issues facing future generations – Trailing Sky Six Feathers and Redemption.  He will present a talk titled “Awakening in Our Times: A Tale of Two Books”, to be followed by a book reading and signing.

TRAILING SKY SIX FEATHERS: One Man’s Journey with His Muse

Our 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 the edge of a dangerous precipice. From there we stare into the abyss of climate change, ecosystem and financial collapse, nuclear energy breakdown, resource wars, cyberbullying, terrorism and anarchy. These issues are making civilization vulnerable to extinction. I believe that our culture needs to awaken spiritually in order to ensure survival.  My new book “Trailing Sky Six Feathers” illuminates issues that will impact the human race for generations. The book follows my spiritual journey as I travel across the globe throughout the course of two lifetimes.

Book video: http://youtu.be/9ohImbVX57g

KEY POINTS IN THE STORY

  • HERO’S JOURNEY OVER FOUR CENTURIES
  • PLANETARY CARE – 18TH CENTURY RENEWAL, 21ST CENTURY ACTIVISM
  • EARTH WISDOM OF THE ELDERS/ SHAMANIC HEALING
  • FUTURE GENERATIONS
  • GURU TRAINING IN INDIA/ NDE/TRANSFORMATION
  • REMEMBERING; PAST LIFE COLLIDING WITH PRESENT LIFE/ RESISTANCE
  • TRANSFORMATION OF KARMA/CONSCIOUSNESS
  • VERY DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE STORY THRO’ CENTURIES

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

The darkness before us does offer an opportunity, a chance to remake ourselves by transforming our minds. Instead of being eaten up by the abyss we can choose to Awaken Spiritually, for that transforms the one thing we can control – our minds. It often seems that we are waiting for someone to step up for us – a Mandela, Ghandi or Martin Luther King. But they are dead and gone. So it is up to you, up to me, to step up and awaken spiritually. That’s what my book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers is about.

There are two main characters that open the book in 18th century Arizona – Trailing Sky Six Feathers and Eagle Speaker. When the reader encounters Trailing Sky Six Feathers, my muse from the past, they encounter a powerful, relentless woman who transforms my life in reality in the 21st century.  She has been described as one of the most powerful women in modern Canadian Literature. Eagle Speaker is her husband and also my transformation vehicle. He dies cradled in her arms in a medicine wheel in the year 1777. As he takes his last breath, Trailing Sky whispers to him: “I will find you my husband, I will find you.” Past life memories collide  n with the present. Karma is reversed, the internal battles are over, and I begin to live life as a Meditation for Gaia. The relentless shadowing by this engaging Muse brings understanding not only to me, but to anyone engaged in overcoming the darkness of their past. This book caps my long-term fascination with consciousness.

From the Blue Ink Review: “Though this fantastic tale leaves room for skepticism, most who read Prattis’ latest work will be swept up in this saga of self-examination, revelation, and indeed, exhilarating global adventure. Prattis writes with erudition, charm and humor, ridiculing his own blunders as much as he praises his teachers. Prattis presents a unique viewpoint hewn from hard-won exploration of traditional wisdom, offering all of us the overarching advice to “awaken spiritually,” so that we may “create a stable economy and way of life” and save Mother Earth.”

REDEMPTION – The Lost Manuscript

And so I come to the second book of 2014, Redemption, a novel I first wrote in 1975.  It was forgotten, as back then I did not know how to get published. The manuscript was rediscovered by accident in 2011. I found it in an old filing cabinet where it was gathering dust. I could scarcely believe it was such a good read and requested my wife and a couple of friends with critical eyes to read it through, just in case I was dreaming. One friend cried all the way through, the other mused about the film to be made. Modern technology enabled the yellowing typed manuscript to be transformed into a computer-ready document. It required attention ranging from spelling and typos with small additions from my writer’s eye some forty years later, yet stands pristine as when first written. The story is an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced at that time, forty years ago. The surprise for me was how could I have written such a book while in a desperate state of mind? I was a total mess with a failing marriage in the Hebrides, Scotland, and trying to maintain a career at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either.

http://youtu.be/FLd7_gxIlYw – book video

This novel is set in The Hebrides, islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, with startling cycles of maturing and downfall of the main character Callum Mor, a gifted child, master mariner, derelict drunk, who eventually gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. He enters the dark zone of alcoholism and withdraws from society. With only his animals keeping him this side of sanity, he survives in a bleak solitude. Until a family with a small girl seeking refuge from a storm come to his house. Slowly, he edges away from his self-destruction. He saves the girl’s life in a blizzard. At this point, a glimmer of awakening dawns in him, and this sets the stage for the final drama that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit. Laced with grim humor, the story has nature’s harsh and beautiful rhapsody as the background for tragic human failings. It applies universally to human suffering in a chaotic world. The triumph of human decency provides redemption rather than giving up. Looking at this book forty years later, I notice the contemporary theme of Global citizens staring into the abyss, Yet instead of being eaten up by it all, I say:  “Awaken spiritually” for that transforms everything.

Redemption front cover

Lucille Hildesheim, International Harp Artiste has this to say about the book:

“What marks a great work of art is that it touches the heart and soul. Redemption touched mine very deeply. It is so vividly descriptive of both scenery and people, drawing you into the life of Callum Mor, making you cry for him, cheer for him, and wishing you could continue on his journey with him. It is a book to be read over and over again, from which to take away life lessons and inspiration for our own personal journey. This is a book to share with those who touch your life.”

2013 Friends for Peace Day

Image

2013 Friends for Peace Day                                                             

 Koozma Tarasoff wrote this article as part of his report on the two week Peace Festival that preceded the Friends for Peace Day. He received a Peace Award in 2012 for his long term activism for peace issues.

 

The 11th Anniversary of Friends of Peace under the leadership of Ian Prattis and his team from Pine Gate Mindfulness Community, was an outstanding event. With a coalition of 50 organizations in the Ottawa area, Friends of Peace has been an integral part of the Annual Ottawa Peace Festivals.  There were peace and environment booths along the periphery of the hall, a food court at the back, a long set of tables on which were items for the Silent Auction, and the stage at the north end. Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso had a booth publicizing their European-Asian Walking for Peace: An Inner Journey, about their 5000-kilometer, 13-country, 13-month walk for peace from Rome to Jerusalem in 2001.

The OrKidstra Kidplayers, in the photo above under the direction of Tina Fedeski, and Kidsingers directed by Margaret Tobolowska, Jeannie Hunter, and Jennifer Martinez, were excellent. Among the songs in the half-hour presentation was ‘Ode to Joy’, with some 35 instrumentalists and 20 young children.             

 

Dandelion Dance Company, directed by Hannah Beach, brought forth some 11 young lady actors, dressed in black, up to the age of 18. With their passion for nonviolence and the basic rights for people, the Company presented four themes designed to build a better peaceful world: (1) We have a right not to be bullied and harassed; (2) We have a right not to be hungry; (3) We need to deal sensibly with a ‘cash, credit, and debit’ society; and (4) A poem on our hope and dreams that we want for our society.

The Big Soul Project (some 50 people as singers and a 4-piece band), headed by Roxanne Goodman, Music Director, has appeared at the Friends for Peace every year, on this day for the 11th time. They were excellent in fulfilling such numbers as ‘What are we going to leave behind when we leave?’ Its message: ‘Now is the time, will you be able to say I was here?’ ‘When I leave this world, will I make a mark that I was here?’ The implication is that what we do today will affect the quality of life tomorrow.

 

The Metis storyteller Robert Lavigne titled his talk ‘Idle More More’ to highlight the urgency of dealing with the misdeeds of the Canadian government with the Native population in the country. ’Enough is enough. It is time to act now!…This is a movement of awareness. Remember 99 to 1 percent? This formula does not work. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And the environment is being destroyed….This is part of our Spring.’

Ian Prattis presented the annual Peace Awards. The first went to Douglas Cardinal, ‘a visionary world master’ who was the architect for the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Born to a German – Native family, Cardinal said that all of Nature including human beings are interconnected. ‘Life springs through every being and rock in this life. This is a symbiotic relationship of life and nature. Each person has divine creation in them….Each person is a God….We are Gods on this land. That is our legacy. We have the capacity to create as well as destroy….Elders trained me to honour culture as the peacemaker. We come from a society where everyone is noble, unique and responsible.’ Ian Prattis then turned to the second recipient of the 2013 Peace Awards. This was to Amber Lloydlangston, historian at the Canadian War Museum and the key person who developed the Peace Exhibit there. Ian praised Amber for her excellence in producing such a unique exhibit, beginning with the Aboriginal Six Nations story. The exhibit officially ends in January 2014. Ian remarked: ‘Let’s help to make this a permanent exhibit, so that peace remains as an integral part of the war museum.’ After receiving her Award, Amber Lloydlangston said that she was humbled in being present with such a candidate as the renowned Douglas Cardinal. In the Peace Exhibit, she said that she and her colleagues wanted to show to Canadians what peace means in the form of diplomats, soldiers, peacekeepers and humanitarians.  

 Image

Lucille Hildesheim’s performance on the Celtic Harp was outstanding.   The closing Friends of Peace Band from Montreal, led by Sonja Ball and friends, was very lively, with a focus on how lucky we are to be alive. ‘This is about being happy and our right to be happy.’ That was certainly the feeling at the end of this magnificent day. The diversity of citizens who came to the Friends for Peace Day laughed, danced, cried and went home with confidence and solidarity.

Peace, Planetary Care and Social Justice are alive and well in our northern city. A Circle of Nations no less.

 

 

 

Flush The Internal Toilet of Your Mind

Flush the Internal Toilet of Your Mind

Earth My Body - Front Cover

 Stepping out on the environmental stage is one part of the Global Warming dance.  It cannot be fully effective until the internal choreography is in place, which is why I address global issues of environmental pollution and degradation through the discipline of meditation.  That is my initial responsibility and rests on key spiritual qualities of responsiveness grounded in responsibility.  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince was explicit about this:

Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab.  The soil of that planet was infested with them.  A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late, it spreads over the entire planet.  It bores clear through it with its roots.  And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many they split it into pieces…  “It is a question of discipline,” the little prince said to me later on.  “When you’ve finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care.  You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rose-bushes, which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth.  It is very tedious work,” the little prince added “but very easy!”

 

We flush the internal toilet of our mind by pulling up regularly all the “baobabs” and garbage of our inner ecology through meditation and self-healing; then attending to the toilet of the planet will be very easy.  Although the excerpt from the Little Prince is not a good translation – it does serve well.  The phrase “faire sa toilette” means to wash up and get ready for the new day and includes the whole process of morning hygiene to getting dressed.  It is a polite phrase that readily lends itself to taking care of the planet.  To neglect care for the planet by sitting on the fence, and resisting the radical and costly change to a carbon neutral economy, ensures that the “baobobs” from our mind and habit energies will create an uninhabitable planet for our species.  If there were an ancient biologist on Mars studying a million years of earth history, she would note a parasitic infestation of Planet Earth that was not very intelligent.  An intelligent parasite would ensure the good health of the host that supports it.  And so the Martian biologist would factor in an elimination date for our species in her star-date log.

 

But there is such a thing as higher intelligence – a level of knowing that emerges from diligent meditation and the practice of awareness.  Our goal in meditation is to heal and transform not only our selves, but also our place on the planet.  Meditation is a progressive movement towards wholeness and integration, and requires that we look deeply into the environment we are located in, and the environment we create with our thoughts, attitudes and values.  In the process of meditation we liberate ourselves from internal blockages created by maladaptive patterns of inner ecology, and are then able to enter a state of clarity and compassion. Thus we transform by personally experiencing different cognitive and perceptual levels that enable us to transcend internal “baobabs”.  This inward step to refine consciousness enables us to create adaptive solutions for Global Warming from a foundation of wisdom and confidence in our clarity.  What we do now has consequences for our future.  The consequences of not acting now are much more costly than the massive investment in an alternative economy and way of life.  The Future is Now!  We prepare for the future through present mindfulness and astute awareness about the consequences of our actions.  This ripples through to future generations and to Mother Earth, enabling a sustainable earth culture to emerge.  Just flush the internal toilet of your mind.  “It is a matter of discipline………very tedious, but quite easy.”