Tag Archives: Redemption

2015 TIFERET INTERVIEW: Part One

2015 TIFERET INTERVIEW with MELISSA STUDDARD: Part One 

Tiferet Journal is at the nexus of literature and spirituality. It publishes high-quality poetry, prose and art that further meaningful dialogue about what it is to be human and conscious in today’s often divisive world. The entire interview is in Tiferet Journal, Summer 2015 http://tiferetjournal.com/

MS: Redemption the manuscript has been on quite a journey. It was written in 1975, lost for decades, rediscovered in 2011, and published in 2014. In what ways is this journey relevant or parallel to Redemption’s plot? What do you hope will be the next stage of this book’s journey?

IP: 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 2011 was how could I have written such a powerful book 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.

Redemption front cover

MS: Speaking of the Hero’s journey, can you say a bit about the connection between Redemption and Trailing Sky Six Feathers and why the Hero’s journey works so well to convey your ideas? 

IP: I consider Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as an underlying template for all great books and weave its threads through my writing. Redemption is the first book in a trilogy that has Trailing Sky Six Feathers as the second book. They are companions – but the reader may not cotton on to that until they read the final chapter of Trailing Sky Six Feathers. Chapter Nine is titled “The Circle Closes” with a return to memories of the insane sea journeys I undertook in the Hebrides. That chapter is quite an “AHAH” moment. The final book in the trilogy (under construction) takes characters from both books, placing them in the future on a new planet. From the 18th century, Rising Moon (daughter of Trailing Sky) is hurled by shamanic means to the new planet. From the 21st century Tom and Sian Hagen with their daughter Catriona get there from a failing spaceship. Life on the new planet permits a beginning anew for our species – A Hero’s Journey to reconstruct a society based on ecology, sharing and caring.

But there are calamities to endure – a brutal abduction and rape, a militant jihadist cell hi-jacking a spaceship in order to take over the new planet, the desperate loss of pioneers in an exploding spaceship. I do not shy away from the reason for finding a new planet and place in the mouth of Dr. Tom Hagen a speech to the UN that I would like to give from the future. It is about the willful ignorance displayed by corporate and government cabals invested in the carbon/oil complex, while eco militias murder in the streets and social disorder is a norm. The first chapter of the final book is a lyrical and dangerous meeting on the new planet between Catriona and Rising Moon. Instead of killing one another they become blood sisters. The second chapter is quite dark about the perilous destruction of the spaceship and safe departure of some of the travellers. Chapter three is a love story and Chapter Four provides vision. Chapters Five and Six are dark yet permit the human spirit to prevail. The battle with jihadists in Chapter Six is not for the squeamish. Chapter Seven returns to love and nature while the final chapter Eight muses philosophically about human survival anywhere. The end game is a philosophy to endure and not repeat the mistakes of the prior civilization on Planet Earth.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

MS: Redemption is a wonderful and fitting title for the novel because of the many facets of redemption that occur. Will you discuss the ways in which this concept manifests in the novel, both big and small? 

IP: 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. Laced with grim humor, the novel has nature’s harsh rhapsody as the background for tragic human failings: violence, power, murder, rape and madness. Each phase is laden with an underlying opportunity for redemption. The failings are ultimately topped by the triumph of the human spirit. Callum Mor’s bleak solitude is broken when 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. The glimmer of awakening dawns in him, and this sets the stage for the final drama that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit. 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.”

Available at www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com   Autographed Book – Order Through: http://www.ianprattis.com

Melissa Studdard

Of her debut poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God…” and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” Melissa Studdard is an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, hosts Tiferet Talk radio, and judges the monthly Goodreads ¡Poetry! Group contest. She is also the author of the novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah, and a collection of interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews. Her awards include the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Pleiades, Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, and Connecticut Review. Learn more at www.melissastuddard.com

Melissa Studdard

A WRITER’S DREAM

It happens – that moment when unexpectedly your writing receives glowing confirmation. Luckily I have had a taste of that. At a writer’s retreat recently, the facilitator who had read my book Redemption spoke of it that it was not so much a read but as if she were listening to music. The cadence of the writing struck her forcibly. I often describe Redemption as an extended prose poem but like her musical note more.

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When a reviewer hits the mark it is a big wow when they seem to read your mind and intention. It makes up for all the misunderstandings. Julia Ann Charpentier in her review must have been sitting in my mind. She describes Redemption, “An admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity……. In this descriptive passage, the devastated mood surrounding Callum Mor’s father can be seen and felt in contrast to the harsh elements of nature: “In the wake of the gale, the day had produced a hazy sunlight that made the reeds in the marsh glimmer, but the unexpected heat in the day could do nothing to warm the cold, vacant, deadness that now enveloped Andrew….  In a later scene, winter emerges as a villainous character: “The wind from the north soughed softly along the shore but froze any man it gripped. The cold stole into every door and numbed the hands and minds of those unprepared for it.” The novel falls into a vague realm of timeless storytelling. This does not detract from the literary quality.”

Redemption front cover

A close friend weighed in with something familiar. Lucille Hildesheim, International Harp Artiste

“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.”

A wonderful cap to this musing was recent when I went to send some books through the Post Office. The young woman at the counter had posted many of the packages of books I had sent to competitions and I always gave a copy to her to read. She gave me a big hug and told me that the most recent book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – had changed her life. This is really why I write.  I told her that the final bookend of the trilogy takes characters from the two books she has read and places them on a new planet in the immediate future. She cannot wait for that one. My expeditions to the post office are a highlight for me these days.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

Foreword Clarion Review of Redemption, by Julia Ann Charpentier

An admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity.

Redemption front cover

A lost manuscript from 1975 reveals the depths of a sensitive man’s soul in this pondering look at life nearing a crossroads. Not until 2011 did Ian Prattis pick up his heartfelt novel again, a book he titled Redemption.

Set in the Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland, an unpretentious locale steeped in regional culture, this story focuses on an eccentric yet down-to-earth protagonist named Callum Mor. Subject to individual understanding and loaded with the symbolism often found in parables, the book alludes to more than what is openly stated in the narrative. Like all interpretive fiction, Prattis’s writing will communicate a different meaning to anyone who attempts to analyze his carefully crafted words. Short but powerful, Redemption may leave a person wondering whether pieces of this tale were intentionally obscured, for the plot covers an extensive period of time from Callum Mor’s childhood to maturity.

An admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity. In this descriptive passage, the devastated mood surrounding Callum Mor’s father can be seen and felt in contrast to the harsh elements of nature: “In the wake of the gale, the day had produced a hazy sunlight that made the reeds in the marsh glimmer, but the unexpected heat in the day could do nothing to warm the cold, vacant, deadness that now enveloped Andrew.”

As Callum Mor ages, he slips into abject loneliness and succumbs to alcoholism before he goes through a positive reawakening. Gentle, with a poignant affection for animals, this cosmically aware lover of God’s creatures seems to collapse under the brutality of man’s instinct to inflict pain. To a certain degree, this somewhat typical view of morality confronting immorality causes the novel to fall into a vague realm of timeless storytelling for any indefinable, poetic piece without a specific purpose. This does not detract from the literary quality, but anyone seeking an indisputable message will not find it here. In this scene, winter emerges as a villainous character: “The wind from the north soughed softly along the shore but froze any man it gripped. The cold stole into every door and numbed the hands and minds of those unprepared for it.”

Ian Prattis is a professor of anthropology and religion. A peace and environmental activist, he was born in the UK. Prattis has spent much of his life living and teaching in Canada. This moving and eye-opening book will be a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. Beneath a polished urban facade remains a part of human nature that few want to acknowledge, either due to fear or simply because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth.

Julia Ann Charpentier

Available at www.Amazon.com  and www.BarnesandNoble.com   Autographed Book – Order Through: http://www.ianprattis.com/Redemption.html

Bringing Inspiration to The Earth.

I was invited to an interview with Robert Sharpe on his radio show to highlight my two recent books – Redemption and Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. Available at www.ianprattis.com  However, the discussion began with Friends for Peace Canada, an organization I founded at the outbreak of the Iraq War. It then turned into a fascinating tapestry that covered Peace, Planetary Care and Social Justice, dharma and youth culture, universal energy and transformation – basically a litany of my life journey.  Robert was very skillful in bringing out my views on karma, past lives, the future of the species and my training with Thich Nhat Hanh, Native American sages and with the Vedic tradition in India.  This comprehensive conversation could have carried on for hours.  Thankfully it is limited to one hour – so if you have the time and patience I encourage you to listen in – and please send in any questions that may arise.

Robert also asked about the next book – the end point of a trilogy. Here I take characters from the prior books and place them in the future on a new planet. One from the 18th century gets there by shamanic means, Three characters from the 21st century arrive by space ship. This new adventure explores the future while looking back at the conditions that crippled the earth,

Guardians

Click on:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/biteradiome/2015/01/03/redemption-and-trailing-sky-six-feathers-one-mans-journey-with-his-muse

Mental Illness, Alcoholism and Depression

The greatest gift one can receive is that of finding one’s true nature. The human spirit is resilient and can triumph over tragedy and psychological dependence. Learning to find our inner strength can conquer mental illness, alcoholism and depression. It is one factor in the complex reality of modern day suffering. It is essential to have a good physician and social support as well as the tools of mindfulness to nourish inner strength. The reality is that almost 15 million adults in North America suffer from some form of depression, enhanced through alcoholism and other mental afflictions.  I believe that the power of inner strength can help such wounded individuals overcome their worldly crutches. It took me a while to come to these realizations and the avenue was through a book I wrote some 40 years ago. This novel – Redemption – is in fact an allegory for depression and life difficulties that I once experienced, though I did not realize it at the time. The themes of mental illness and depression are writ large in this book – a turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation.

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The novel illuminates startling cycles of maturing and downfall experienced by the book’s main character – Callum Mor – a gifted child, master mariner, derelict drunk, who finally gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. His failings and misery are ultimately conquered when he saves the life of a young girl and comprehends the fragility and beauty of human existence. “Redemption” was a “lost” manuscript, first written in 1975, forgotten until spring 2011. The narrative was vivified and refined with hindsight forty years later. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and of human nature.  Callum Mor takes the reader on a deep Hero’s Journey. It opens with his childhood in the Hebrides. He draws wonderful mentors to him; his schoolteacher, who lights the spark of a bard in him, animal friends such as an otter, a brutal fisherman who shields his darkness from the boy as he matures. Callum Mor thrives despite the poverty of his home in an island nurturing with gentle humor and adventure.  This novel moves from the rhapsody of Callum Mor’s idyllic childhood through tragedies to the derelict zone of his alcoholic drowning out of pain and suffering. His father, a seaman longing to be at home, is driven to madness by his inability to create a place for himself on the island. His brother is murdered on the docks at Montreal. So Callum Mor stays with his mother and forgets his yearnings to be a writer. He becomes the best fisherman in the region before grave misunderstandings tear his love, Catriona, away from him. This displaces his gifts as he drives himself and his crew to the very limits of endurance. The manner of his mother’s death is the final straw.

Callum Mor’s sensitivities and mind snap, as 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 winter blizzard. The glimmer of awakening dawns in him while sheltering in a cave with the child warmly ensconced in a gutted carcass of a sheep he killed to keep her from freezing. He sees his life pass in front of his eyes and this sets the stage for the final drama that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit. “Redemption” is my fourteenth book and first novel, though actually the first book I ever wrote.  In 1975 I was unable to get it published.  I found this “Lost” manuscript in an old filing cabinet, read it through and could scarce believe it.  I requested my wife and a couple of friends with critical eyes to read it through, just in case I was dreaming. Modern technology enabled the yellowing typed manuscript to be transformed into a computer ready document.   My wife thought it was incredible; one friend could not put it down and mused about the film to be made; the other friend cried through most of it.  All of which encouraged me to bring “Redemption” to life. I was tempted to leave this gem from 1975 in its pristine state, but realized that my insights some forty years later could enhance the narrative and flesh out “Callum Mor” into a character of epic proportions.

The story is an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced at that time–40 years ago. The surprise for me was how could I have written such a book while in a miserable state of mind? I was not in a good place physically or mentally – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep a career going at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. Publishing this book in 2014 was an imperative for me, as a necessary part of my own life- journey. It is a companion to Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse-also published in 2014.  These books are writing me. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Xlibris websites. Check out: http://www.ianprattis.com/Redemption.html Book video: Youtube: http://youtu.be/9ohImbVX57g Redemption Interview http://toginet.com/shows/xlibrisonair Find Recent Shows 10-19-2014

Triumph of the Human Spirit

Triumph of the Human Spirit

Inner strength and resilience conquer mental illness and alcoholism

 PRESS RELEASE for “REDEMPTION”

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – According to the Anxiety and Depression Association, nearly 15 million adults suffer from some form of depression. Professor, author, and distinguished scholar, Ian Prattis believes that the power of inner strength can help these wounded souls overcome their worldly crutches. “The greatest gift one can be given is that of finding one’s true nature,” Prattis said. “The human spirit is resilient and can triumph over tragedy and psychological dependence.”

Prattis’ new novel, “Redemption” is an allegory for depression and life difficulties that he himself once experienced. The novel, which is set off the northwest coast of Scotland, illuminates startling cycles of maturing and downfall experienced by the book’s main character – Callum Mor – a gifted child, master mariner, derelict drunk, who finally gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. Callum Mor’s character is epic and takes the reader on a deep Hero’s Journey. His failings and misery are ultimately conquered when he saves the life of a young girl and comprehends the fragility and beauty of human existence.

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Redemption is a companion to “Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse”, which was also published in 2014. Both books can be viewed at www.ianprattis.com.

Please visit http://ianprattis.com/Redemption.html for more information on:

“Redemption”

By Ian Prattis

Price: $15.99

ISBN: 978-1-4990-1234-7

Available at: Amazon, Xlibris and Barnes and Noble online bookstores

http://youtu.be/9ohImbVX57g

About the Author

Ian Prattis is a poet, Professor Emeritus, founder of Friends for Peace and a spiritual warrior for planetary care and social justice. Ian now lives with his wife Carolyn in the west end of Ottawa where the Pine Gate Meditation Hall is located in the lower level of their home. Since retiring from Carleton University in 2007, he has authored four books on dharma, two on the environment, a legend/autobiographical combo and this novel. He enjoys the freedom to create at his own pace and has yet to discern the ordinary meaning of retirement.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**


EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact:

Ryan Simpson | 317-275-2057 | rsimpson@bohlsengroup.com

(When requesting a review copy, please provide street address.)

Views on the “Redemption” Book

PRAISE FOR REDEMPTION

 

Lucille Hildesheim, International Harp Artiste

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.

Mary Helen Dean, Management Professional, Ottawa, Canada

I loved this book, captivating on so many levels, as the story reinforced my resolve. I have three criteria for a good book…I don’t want it to end, I love the end, and I do not wish to speak to anyone for several hours after I finish it. So, this met my criteria on all these levels!

Anita Rizvi, Consultant, Ottawa, Canada

“Redemption” is a riveting novel chronicling one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation. The narrative may be applied both individually and universally. Individuals are suffering all over the world from the chaos that life brings, be it violence, abuse of power, cheating, torture or the destruction that comes with war. What is so exquisite about this novel is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition. Callum Mor draws us in as he demonstrates an intuitive understanding and respect for nature. We are intrigued by his innocence and purity which contrast so strongly with the tragic failings that surround him. When Callum Mor’s journey moves him even closer to the abyss, the author refuses to “sanitize” his experiences. Rather, they are put out there as graphically and tragically as they occur. The story pulls you in and before you know it, the reader is seduced and becomes Callum Mor. As he is redeemed, so are we. “Redemption” is so beautifully written, exploring the human condition in its entirety, even the darkest elements. The author does this with grace, elegance, compassion and without judgment.

 

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Tina Fedeski, Executive Director of Orkidstra Canada and founder of  The Leading Note Foundation.

A magical journey of the struggle towards hope, inspiration and love.

Jo Anne Denis, retired federal public servant from the Government of Canada.

Thank you for the gift of your book, Redemption. It is a lovely read. Elegantly sad. We all have a piece of Callum Mor in us. I certainly identified with many aspects of his journey. So thank you for the enjoyable hours reading about this fine human being.

To order a book: http://www.ianprattis.com/Redemption.html

Milarepa: Movie Review

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

Milarepa Photo

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

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

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

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

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

Milarepa photo 2

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

Callum Mor’s Awakening

Callum Mor’s Awakening

Cover Song of Silence5

This is an excerpt from my recent novel, which is available on Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Song-Silence-2nd-ebook/dp/B006WB6JII/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330006852&sr=8-1

Testimonials:

I was captivated by Song of Silence. I have three criteria for a good book…I don’t want it to end, I love the end, and I do not wish to speak to anyone for several hours after I finish it. So, this met my criteria on all three levels!

Mary Helen Dean, Organizational Professional, Ottawa, Canada

“Song of Silence is so exquisite in the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition. The story pulls you in. Besides the fact that Song of Silence is so beautifully written, it is a book that explores the human condition in its entirety and honors the darkest elements. The author does this with grace, elegance and compassion.

Anita Rizvi, Consultant, Ottawa, Canada

 

From Chapter Seven

Callum Mor sat with his jacket and coat loosely about him, creating a pocket of warm air that would resist the freezing will of the storm. He breathed slowly and deeply, using the least energy as he sat there and thought. His life went before his eyes and he smiled gently as he saw his childhood and island nurturing. He recalled his family at picnics and peats, the joy of dancing competitively with Moira and rabbiting with Donald. And his teacher, Rachel MacDougall, was there in his mind’s eye. Remembering their adventure with the otter, and how he had written as much about her inelegant slide into the mud as much as he did about the otter, he smiled. He smiled in gratitude for the freedom she opened in his mind. He had received so much. His expression did not change as he thought of his father, Andrew, driven to madness by events he could not overcome. His heart welled with love for his father. He knew it was love that had driven his father to such lengths. He recalled the patient love of his mother Annie and the winter expeditions to the mail boat as their major weekly outing. He understood the warring factions in Brett MacVicker and felt grateful that this man, who killed his brother, should have shielded his darkness from him. His thoughts drifted and rested with his mother and old Colin as they aged. He then thought of his first Catriona. He had long grieved for her and saw her immense love for him and was overcome by it. Thought of her humbled him. Yet now he felt no pain on thinking of her radiance. He gave thanks for the present Catriona – fast asleep and warm within the insulation from the dead ewe. He offered respectful thanks to the ewe for enabling his little Catriona to live. He grieved at the wreckage he had turned himself into with drink, not for what he did to himself but for the pain he had inflicted by rebuke and indifference on people who only loved him. He dozed in the cold for only a moment. His mind kept him awake as he thought of the child Catriona and her mother and father. In the knowing of them they were as gifts to return him to himself. As morning light shafted through the darkness, he lost his self-contempt and saw compassion as the saving grace of both himself and his fellow man. In that long night of freezing cold and driving blizzard his mind led him to these and many other paths and levels of his life. His suffering dissolved as his compassion grew. By morning he arrived at full self-knowledge – a state of enlightenment that he remained in for the rest of his days.

He had no regrets, was without fear, simply filled with a deep well of compassion and love that had always been there within him. He took his time sorting these insights with his mind that was now working with clarity about his life journey. He saw clearly how it had brought him to this state of emancipation.

The blizzard had ended. Catriona was awake and alive and drew from the new strength and calmness that Callum Mor now possessed. He used his fisherman’s knife to hack strips of fleece from the sheep to bind their feet and hands and wrap round her knees. Layers of fleece were thrust inside her cardigan and his jacket to keep them warm. They left their small cave after Catriona gave a special prayer to the dead ewe that had saved her life. And to Callum Mor, whom she loved so totally. They explored the land about them, looking for a path to follow. The snow had gently moulded Nature’s difference into a smooth quilt but Callum Mor knew the way to the edge of the fell.

Callum Mor returned to his island, a fuller and wiser man. He opened himself to the ways of his own people. They saw his goodness and his presence and knew not where it came from but many went to him, drawn by his softness and wisdom. He made the small and ineffectual feel useful, redirected bitterness to joy and loud and vicious men were gentled in his presence. There was an aura about him that transformed life’s frailties and failings into a creative reality. His goodness and gentle acclaim were feared by some for he had power over men and knew that he did; thus he moved them to greater understanding and compassion. Some resented his past indifference to them but on meeting with him, succumbed to his gentleness. They bore ill-concealed hurts that he healed, and wished him no harm. But the men who feared him hated his goodness and sought his destruction. They could not find a way to it but they waited, jealously guarding their intent, carefully marking the time when they thought he would fall.

 

Environment and Awakening

Environment and Awakening                                                                         Ian Prattis Zen Tree 

Allow me, dear reader, to introduce a Tale of Three books, which highlights a radical change in my writing. I had been invited to speak at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Ontario by Reverend Michel Dubord who takes an interest in my writings. One of his Christmas Eve sermons featured  my book Failsafe. As usual, I was snoozing in one of the back pews when my brother-in-law Kenny dug his elbow into my side to wake me up and whispered hoarsely in my ear that Rev. Michel was talking about my book Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves. Indeed he was – particularly about tipping points in the mind. Only he took it much further by concluding that the birth of Jesus was a tipping point into awakening.  What a brilliant leap on his part. Richmond is a delightful village on the outskirts of Ottawa. It is where my wife Carolyn grew up. Her mother Joan and sister Eleanor still live there. My theme was global, a talk on Environment and Awakening. It was about awareness of environmental crises leading to change in consciousness then to preventive action. The reality though, is that while citizens around the world are aware, they are overwhelmed by distraction, suffering and violence – all of which keeps them frozen in a state of inaction. The key to change this deep freeze is Awakening, a spiritual relationship with self and Mother Earth. The tale of my three books: Failsafe – Saving The Earth From Ourselves; Earth My Body Water My Blood and Song of Silence takes us to the center of what is required.

Failsafe – Saving The Earth From Ourselves

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Several years ago at the beginning of spring after a severe winter in Canada, I participated in a sweat lodge ceremony with respected elders from the Ojibway, Dene and Mohawk First Nations. A senior elder called for this ceremony as he felt a severe disconnect between humanity and the Earth. I felt privileged to be included. It took place in a remote part of Ontario and we camped close to the newly constructed inipi, specially built for this sweat lodge ceremony. Inside the lodge the prayers offered were very moving. We made deeply personal and collective commitments to serve the Earth Mother, to do all that we could to heal her and ourselves. At the end of the final round of the ceremony we emerged into the pristine beauty of a late snowfall under a clear star studded sky. There had been a two-inch snowfall while the sweat lodge was in progress. We walked barefoot in silence to where we were camping. Quiet smiles, not thinking too much. My smile grew immense when looking back at our footprints in the snow.  I gestured to my companions to stop and look.  Words were not appropriate.  We all smiled with the same recognition and looked at one another with new eyes.  It was as though these were the first footprints witnessed on Mother Earth, an epiphany that strengthened our commitment and resolve. Business as usual was no longer possible for us. Share the epiphany, as it is no longer possible for you either, dear reader. My book Failsafe was born from that moment.

David Suzuki endorsed it and wrote the foreword, aboriginal leaders delighted in the advocacy. My point was that in every mind there is a Failsafe that would activate when matters grew so bad that moving to a new mindset would be inevitable. I argued that the notion of innate earth wisdom, when combined with tipping points in the mind and counter culture, would be sufficient to change our collective mentality in the direction of better earth stewardship and a new economic paradigm. On the flip side, I was very aware of the cascading collapse of the world’s eco-systems and that our overpopulated, technologically based civilization may not adapt to a fast changing future without wrecking the environment. If we wreck the environment we are toast.   I knew to look for the means to shift our mind set. I replaced the question: “Can we fix the planet?” with a deeper question: “How do we fix ourselves?”  I recognized that the modern era transition from “Reverential” to “Referential” with respect to the earth had to be reversed, pointing out how our technical and economic institutions were outstripping our basic humanity. I even pondered on whether homo sapiens may be a failed genetic experiment.

Failsafe is available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Failsafe-Saving-Earth-Ourselvesebook/dp/B006DLB4AK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329677682&sr=8-1

Earth My Body Water My Blood 

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In my last ecology class before retiring from Carleton University in 2007, my students insisted that I get more testy and belligerent about global issues. I enlisted their brilliance and diligence to do exactly that, with a collective focus on eco-communities. We studied this issue from rural communities to urban condos – and I did get belligerent, including a George Carlin inspired riff on “Entitlement” while severely holding political and corporate leaders to account. This adventure with my students reflected the particular shift in mindset required to salvage the global ecosystem for human habitation. Wherever we are located on the planet – we considered it essential to conduct ourselves as being part of a global eco-community.  Whether we live in a rural or urban locale, in the industrial or developing worlds, work in a factory, office building, farm or retail outlet, our mindset has to be focused on the reality of living as one component of Gaia’s ecosystem. An edited collection – Earth My Body, Water My Blood – emerged from the enthusiasm, insights and sheer hard work of these students. 

The book was organized around the five great elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space – which represent the Universe in Buddhist, Native American and Taoist traditions.  The sequence describes the principle of interconnectedness and provided the metaphor to organize the volume, as the five great elements taken together are inherent in all aspects of life.  They are much more than their physical appearance, as they mirror the inner reality of an interconnected human consciousness.  The driving force from the inner dimension is the feminine representation of awakening. The feminine principle is the creator of all matter and things, including the five elements and also ourselves.  The external forms of the five elements in the environment have the same factors as the internal presence.  So our global pollution, the endangerment of all species – including our own – is a direct reflection of what we have allowed our consciousness to become. I wrote the bridging chapters for each of the Five Great Elements from the level of testiness required by my students.

Tale of 3 Books 2013

This volume of essays was the continuation of Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves, which investigated the necessity of changing the mindset of humanity in order to combat the Global Ecological Emergency.  Earth My Body, Water My Blood provided a detailed investigation of how to do this by establishing the pre-conditions for eco-communities to function.  The collection described the mindset required to maintain an eco-niche for our species and covered the waterfront to ensure the successful establishment of an eco-community. The student teams knew the bigger picture and developed an antidote. If only we can get it right – and get it right now!  They were very aware of reining in our ego and greed-driven minds to permit the cultivation of different patterns.  Our shared excitement was that consciousness expansion could no longer be held back because a radical internal Climate Change would have emerged in humankind.  And so – our innate knowledge becomes manifest.  We interconnect with a vast counter culture that is no longer a minority, no longer asleep or disempowered.  We become another light shining in the quiet revolution that has over two million organizations worldwide pursuing constructive change. The best case scenario that we all agreed upon is this – our diligent mindfulness changes our brain structures in the direction that brings new paradigms of behavior into form.  As cells in the ecosystem of Gaia, humanity aligns its neuronal networks with principles of ecosystem balance, ethics and responsibility.  The critical mass has arrived and it amounts to a collective tipping point for our species.  Clarity and compassion are suddenly there to provide the basis for how we can be with the planet and with one another in a totally new way.  That was our collective intention with this piece of work, summed up by their phrase “Bring It On, Now!” This mentoring exercise with brilliant ecology students produced an excellent volume, which contributed to the 2011 Earth Day Environmental Award I received at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The highlight for me, however, was not the award. It was that the majority of students in this class chose to work as environmentalists in different sectors of the Canadian economy. They cared as much as I did and that was deeply fulfilling.

Allow me to relate a story told by a Metis raconteur.

The non-human land and air creatures of the world were alarmed and frightened by the world being on fire.  Each species and form sent a representative to gather in a secluded valley visited by rain, with a river running into the ocean.  This location was chosen so that the ocean and river creatures could also be represented.  At the gathering of the non-humans there was a huge cacophony of sound, laments, blaming, cries of anguish that the world was coming to an end – and much desperation.  Beyond this verdant valley the world was on fire. Then all the creatures gradually grew quiet and lapsed into silence as they observed Hummingbird.  Hummingbird flew to the river and took a drop of water in her beak. He flew to the fire and dropped it on the flames.  Back to the water, picking up a drop of water, flying to the fire and dropping it.  On she went, relentless and unstoppable – flying to the river for a drop of water then flying to the fire and dropping it on the flames.  All the creatures were astounded.  Finally Bear shouted “Hummingbird, what do you think you are doing?”  Hummingbird flew to the river for another drop of water and dropped it onto the flames.  As she flew back to the river, he hovered for a moment in front of Bear and said – “The Best I Can.”

What is the best that you can do dear reader?

What is the best that I can be?

What is the best that our political and corporate leaders can do?

For the latter to emerge requires that we hold our leaders to account, and citizen activism on an unprecedented scale is necessary for that.  This is essential for the younger generation just coming into maturity and responsibility.  My generation has not left a healthy and viable planet.  I offer a humble apology to them for that neglect.  I ask of my generation of environmentalists, activists and organizers that they transfer their skills and knowledge to the younger generation.  To be mentors for the generation that has to do the heavy lifting to put things right on planet earth.  I will not be around to see the changes.  Yet I do possess a modicum of confidence.  I feel that the younger generation will modify the “Yes We Can” mantra that got Barack Obama into the White House.  In twenty years my hope is that the mantra will have been changed to “Yes We Did” with respect to Mother Earth. When I look at young people, I see beyond the ipods, electronic gadgetry and attitude to the deep intelligence that yearns for something better.  I love their in-your-face attitude, as that is the energy of determination that will drive them to put things into balance on the planet.  They are not caught so readily by the identities and trade-offs that my generation is so good at entertaining.  They are breaking down the barriers of discrimination, storming the barricades of separation.  I have only one thing to ask of them.  That they slow down for a moment and hold out their hand.  For as long as I have a spark in this mind and breath in this body I say to them – Wait for me, because I am going with you.

Earth My Body is available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Earth-Body-Water-Blood-ebook/dp/B006FKUOQY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329678067&sr=8-1

Song of Silence

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The Hummingbird story brings home that something else is necessary for us to redress the global ecological emergency. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. That means the future is sacrificed while we occupy an ecosystem of distraction technologies. Distracted people do not realize they are in danger. Rumi’s wise words are cogent: “Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.”  But political and corporate agendas had forced humanity off the edge of the roof to occupy an ecosystem of distraction technologies. Citizens around the world do not realize they are in such dreadful danger. Somehow we have to take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea right now.

Spiritual Awakening must factor into the humanity – earth equation, yet there is so much in the way. The fear and suffering felt globally prevents people from taking action, as they are frozen and trapped by their particular circumstances.  People feel dwarfed by the senseless carnage, violence and collapse of all systems – financial and ecological. Distractions also prevent us from waking up, as we just do not want to think about what is happening. We can, however, become awakened consumers and hold both politics and corporations to account. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to do so. This is the initial step into Awakening.

And so I come to the last book in this trilogy – Song of Silence – a novel I first wrote in 1975. It was soon forgotten, as way back then I really 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 read it through and could scarce believe it was such a good read.  I requested my wife and a couple of friends with critical eyes to read it through, just in case I was dreaming. Modern technology enabled the yellowing typed manuscript to be transformed into a computer ready document. Though it required attention to spelling and typos with small additions from a writer’s eye some forty years later – it stands pristine as when first written. My wife thought it was tremendous, one friend could not put it down and mused about the film to be made, the other friend cried through most of it.  All of which encouraged me to bring “Song of Silence” to life.

The story is an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced at that time – 40 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 real mess – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides, Scotland  and trying to keep a career going at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. 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 and the triumph of human decency provides redemption rather than staring into the abyss. Awakening transforms everything. Looking at this book 40 years later, I noticed a contemporary theme. Global citizens are in fact staring into the abyss – nuclear, economic, environment, violence, abuse – yet instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to you – Awaken Spiritually – for that transforms everything. I concluded my talk by reading a passage from the book (Pgs 134 – 137) that describes Callum Mor’s awakening and how it transformed everything.

The 2nd edition of Song of Silence is available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Song-Silence-2nd-ebook/dp/B006WB6JII/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330006852&sr=8-1