Gathering Wisdom, Warnings, Teachings, Stories


 Gathering Wisdom, Warnings, Teachings, Stories


I presently live in Ottawa, Canada and encourage people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the planet may be renewed. My poetry, memoirs, fiction, articles, blogs and podcasts appear in a wide range of venues. I bravely go into literary work, a stone tossed into the oceans of life.

However, it took a long time for me to step out on a journey of transformation. As a young man I struggled with anger, violence, greed and being self-centered, though I was concerned about Mother Earth since childhood. Indigenous First Nation elders taught me the ways and traditions to guide my way onwards. I knew that the achievements of these primal indigenous societies must become an integral part of our future human consciousness. They knew that the genocide they suffered was provided by the actions of clergy, colonialists and industrialists – stamped into their brains and hearts.

Now - I bluntly talk about humanity’s future as precarious, brutal, and dark until we learn to save our climate, health and cultural emergencies. As a university professor I had the experience of thousands of student dialogues and did my best to present history and context clearly, accurately and vividly. The main theme was that there are two forks in the road. Which will we take? Dark, bone chilling and captivating, or inter-connectedness and interdependence of humans, community, and nature elements. Relationships allow us to survive, thrive, heal and grow. The prevailing theme is survival and love in humanity and in nature - despite the challenges. Yet pathological consumption degrades our planet as industrial systems devour themselves. Are we at the end game without a philosophy for the future? Our tomorrow will be shaped by the actions we take right now. There is still short time to ground economy in ecological principles and the constraints of thermodynamic.

We are in the midst of a health, medical, cultural and environmental crisis. The enemy now is us and our unsustainable way of living with others on our fragile planet.

What kind of future are we creating for our children?  Do we teach them peace - acceptance, tolerance and self-worth? Or through neglect do we allow violence to flood their minds so they learn hatred and war?  Even worse, do they live out our own personal wars expressed through our violent attitudes, speech and actions towards them?  I ask every adult, particularly men, to deal with their internal wars so that only the best in us is passed on to our children, not the worst in terms of violence. Our determination to be peace and our courage to stand for it creates the energy and power for change. 

The first step is clear – we must deal with our internal wars, hatreds and fears.  We must stop running and hiding behind addictions and busyness.  We stop, look deeply into the eyes of our children and make a commitment to transform our internal demons by stepping on to the path of compassion, whatever the tradition.  We need community for this, to support us in sacred ceremony, meditation and creative spirituality so that we raise our consciousness and refine our speech, attitudes and actions.  We show our children the way to peace by learning to be peace.  Let us be clear about the world we have created for our children. All violence is injustice and we have to teach our children the truth about war – greed, power, control. Not about winners and losers, but about the long-term suffering on both sides.

But the hatred grows, the suffering increases. What can we do as individuals to change this? To prevent civil unrest and war, we nurture non-violence within ourselves. We practice meditation and prayer in daily life to transform the poisons within ourselves and within our nation. Doing this in our family and in our community produces positive feedback loops throughout our society and government – which is ultimately accountable to each one of us. We enter into true peace negotiations by learning the methods of deep listening, respectful communication, understanding and peace to create bridges of understanding across the cultural and religious boundaries that separate. We create peace by knowing that compassion is the antidote to violence and hatred. This is the remedy for our troubled times.  Compassion, however, has to be generated in our heart by first of all taking care of our internal wars and violence.  Then we are able to touch the depth of compassion, strength and clarity within us and take wise action.  These actions are taken to the political and economic infrastructures that surround us. 

As we injure Mother Earth, we injure ourselves. The rising sea levels and the burning wildfires produced by Global Warming will kill millions, displacing millions more. We must change our ways and make peace with Mother Earth or we will not survive. Our collective greed, mindless consumerism, industrial pollution and government irresponsibility must change. We champion the cause of Mother Earth - of non-violent relationships in political and global affairs. This means our leaders have to be trained in the art of deep listening and stopping before contemplating violent action.  We must make it clear to our political and corporate leaders that business as usual is not an option.  As Ambassadors of Peace we must speak out to corporate and political leaders – not as individuals but as representatives of groups, coalitions and nations. As we go deeper spiritually, we realize that everything interconnects. We do not neglect the political and economic infrastructures that frame our lives. We hold them to account, we influence them with our clarity, wisdom and courage.  We consume carefully, rejecting the mindlessness of an uncaring consumer society.  The future is now, for the actions we presently take are shaping the possibilities for future generations.

I listen to young people talk about hopelessness. They are concerned about the planet, job opportunities, growing hatred and wars. Prejudices, bullying, physical and sexual abuse are all affecting far too many people. Hope is not a feeling that magically makes us feel better and think that all will be well. Hope needs to be put into actions in order to transform.

We represent the diversity of the world – an example of what can be. This experience, however, evaporates into nothingness if we do not translate it into action.  Begin the work on yourselves today, so that your attitudes, speech and actions become an example to your children, friends and communities. Take the practical steps to make peace with Mother Earth in terms of what you consume and support.  Then represent your community, in coalition with other communities, to political and corporate leaders so they know the general public means business. But if we want them to change their ways – we first of all have to change our ways. Show clearly that we are choosing peace and harmony within ourselves, within our communities and with Mother Earth.

Taking action comes in many forms. Education is essential, meditation is necessary, some may protest, others may take action through artistic expressions – the possibilities are endless. I was an Anthropologist and educator at Carleton University. I was a dharma teacher hosting a meditation community for 30 years. I was the founder of Friends for Peace and I write books. My writing is that of a Poet, life as a Global Traveler, Guru in India, Zen teacher – enabling the spiritual warrior within to focus on planetary care, peace and social justice.


Ian Prattis


Ian Prattis, Zen Teacher, Anthropology Professor Emeritus, peace and environmental activist, was born in the UK. He has spent much of his life living and teaching in Canada. His moving and eye-opening books, essays and poetry are a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. Beneath the 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. Prattis bravely goes there in his outstanding literary work. A stone tossed in the waters of life.


  1. i am not a big tree hugger but this piece gives alot to think about.

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