FOUR PHASES: Lost, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring
Koozma J. Tarasoff, Professor
A book of 91-pages that raises the fundamental issues of peace, climate change, Coronavirus pandemic, respect for nature, and the survival of our species deserves public attention. Ian Prattis, retired anthropology professor in Canada’s capital Ottawa, Guru in India, Zen teacher, Founder of Friends for Peace, and award winning author attempts just that. He does it by combining nonfiction with poetry (an innovation in itself), shows us how to set a moral example to our children, uses metaphors of kindness to make good things happen spontaneously, and gives us the tools of dealing with stress and burnout. All this was done by a mature man who once befriended a wolf as a pet, met with female shamans, and went to India for two years of training with wisdom people. With a gentle smile, he invites us to walk carefully as we breathe in and out in search of peace, healing and mental health. On our part, we need to visualize a better state of being by connecting reality to the magic state of mind and the silence within. This path is courageous, but requires us to pay attention to our surrounding ecology. In search of peace, for example, we need to get to know the stranger if we are to survive on our beautiful planet. Bravo, Ian, you have given us hope in a troubled world. For the purist at heart, Ian offers the following: 'Activism without mindfulness practice can lead to disillusionment. Also spirituality without an engaged expression is equally unbalanced.'
FOUR PHASES: Lost, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring
Poetry has always been a strong practice when it creates prose. It has taken a long time to cultivate my new book - FOUR PHASES: Lost, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring. I have published several prior poetry books but none like the new one that has shaken me up. My new book deals with poetry and prose at four different levels that are necessary to balance our world. Severe Climate Change is already upon us and needs swift action to give homo-sapiens a chance of survival. However, the global pandemic and Russia's war devastating Ukraine may detrimentally affect the world from taking the possible route to a live-able Earth as we know it.
The time for wakefulness is NOW!
The Time For Wakefulness
This is a deep journey through the heart of nature, her elements, the earth, ancient wisdom, the threads of the universe that are woven into our cells.
Ian Prattis' new book "FOUR PHASES: Lost, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring," explores planetary and environmental issues we have ignored, abused and disconnected with. It may be a soft voice in most parts, but it is incisive, a "scalpel of poetic musings" that probes the consequences of our actions towards nature, the planet, the responsibility of the legacy we are leaving behind for the next generations.
This award-winning author has woven a montage of shining poetry, poignant essays, epiphanies, short pithy stories, multi-dimensional shamanic journeys, deep Indigenous wisdom, the Buddha's path of mindfulness, the Hindu lessons of surrender-fullness and our lost connection with family and generations.
The bevy of literary expressions emerges as one crystal voice from a deep chamber. A voice that breaches the surface to make us seriously ponder what we have ignored, shunned, or run away from.
The author states that he bravely goes into literary work. "A stone tossed into the oceans of life" - as he terms it. For me, I see it as a shimmering river that flows into a collective soul-scape. We can hear and feel the scrunch of our feet as we walk through those forests, marvel at the fresh rhapsody and scent of spring shoots, the flaming russets and gold sheens of autumn. But, we also sense "the quietness of dark pines" that look down from high and "say very little…the echoes we cannot hear." And yes, we "no longer speak of seasons or note the flight of geese…we ignore the language of the whales calling…"
While creating that metaphorical clearing in the woods or sky or ocean, the author also stokes that much needed long pause. Here in that space of is-ness, we face our inner demons, anchor the wisdom of the Elders, yoke in the urgent importance for the younger generation to understand "the meaning of rivers, forests and mountains."
This is the time when spirituality needs to be balanced with engaged expression, Prattis notes in his essay, "Burn Out, Take Refuge." At the same time, activism needs to embrace the spirit of mindfulness … to spring from that space of stillness.
In these times of the Covid pandemic, Prattis talks about the wisdom of walking meditation, where our footstep and conscious breathing becomes the "brilliant piece of engineering to quiet the mind and body."
How often we forget these profoundly simple truths in the busyness and buzzing haste of our lives. To seek refuge and strength in that togetherness of sangha - the community of spiritual practice.
In his poem, The Forest, there is this single aspen tree, "lonely, waiting for companionship, fragile in its aloneness, in our aloneness." He stands within her circle. "And for a brief moment neither were alone."
Beneath the dermis of Prattis' writings there breathes the soul of engaged spiritual activism, of a deep care for nature conservation, ancient Indigenous wisdom, the hauntingly real Shamanic journeys, and more importantly the need to reconnect, nurture and nourish mother Earth.
~ Shobha Gallagher, Freelance Writer
Jana Begovic, Poet, Novelist, Senior Editor of Ariel Chart Literary Journal
Prattis' new collage of writing, divided in Four Phases is threaded with the shimmering gold vein of his gentle poetic activism, through which he gathers us in a literary embrace, and nudges us toward a shift of consciousness in our relationship with nature and each other. His disenchantment with the state of affairs and the ever-increasing violence in the world, and his utter shock and white-hot rage over the discovery of torture and murder of children in residential schools, he alchemizes not only into poetry and inspiring articles, but also into concrete action. One such luminous example of positive action is the establishment of the Dr. Ian Prattis Scholarship for Indigenous, Black and Racialized students at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Prattis' profound and compassionate reverence for the natural world, reflected as an ever-present leitmotif in his verses, reveals his genuine sense of belonging within the oneness of the Universe, because, as he says, "every molecule engages in the Universal threads," and by damaging and wounding the external world, we inflict harm on ourselves.
"Silver birches silhouette the sky,
Sway and breathe
bend and whisper in the canyon…"
pulse in the singing rhythm of all Creation, unveiling Prattis' delight in nature. With a soothing meditative and aesthetic cadence of his verses, as well as his spiritual exaltation over the beauty of nature, Prattis succeeds in enlarging, even if only temporarily his readers' sense of sympathy and compassion for the planet. Through his poetic eyes, we sense wonder in the birch tree, and glory in the canyon echoing its whispers. Prattis still writes with excited hope that we may wake up from our slumber of apathy and take action. Poetry is not his pastime, but a driver of change and with his words, Prattis shakes us gently to the disturbing realities of climate change, injustices, cruelty etc. His poetry becomes a beacon lighting the path to a less violent future, by inviting us to engage in introspection of our own demons, as well as in exploration of our capacities and potentials to bring more goodness into to the world.
Dr. Kimberly Brayman, Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Ian Prattis's words light the soul and warm the heart; they brought me into sunlit canyons, by banks of racing rivers, and into moments of remembering how precious this world is, and how fragile our place here. As I read, I felt the intergenerational lineage of wisdom, and the need for both steady action and stillness. All of us who care so deeply for this world, and those that don't give the ticking clock of self-destruction much heed. All need to read his words.
Susan Taylor Meehan, Author
Ian Prattis has written another brilliant love letter to Planet Earth. Blending poetry and prose in a novel format, he takes us through a series of lyrical odes to the beauty and transcendence of nature, then mourns its loss at the hands of careless and often rapacious human activity. These are familiar themes to us all these days; however, Prattis proposes a new approach, a new mindset, to stop the destruction and rediscover our harmony with the natural environment. Using his own spiritual journey as a guide, he illustrates the power of peace, respect, compassion and courage to first, change ourselves, and then, to join in community to bring these truths to the world. He does not minimize the challenges we face. But he does not give in to despair; this is a book of vision, of compassion and hope, a must-read for all those seeking a new way to live in harmony with ourselves, our fellow humans, and our natural world.
Claudiu Murgan, author of 'Crystal Cloud'
It's been a long time since I read poetry. This genre doesn't cross my path too often and it has to be recommended by a trusted source before I log precious time to read it. In FOUR PHASES: Lost, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring, Dr. Prattis had created a sublime eco-system of imagery and feelings that transports the reader to the deepest place of safety, love, and gratitude. The souls that had their physical journey cut short can now find peace as they have been acknowledged through verses that weaved them back into the fabric of nature.
Derek Blair, PhD
Like many people, I often find myself lost in work and life. Ian Prattis' Four Phases is an escape from the rational and chaotic world that some of us find ourselves caught in. The author has a unique way of telling his story through verse - but also inviting readers to create their own. My favorite example of this is "Phase Four: Caring for the Planet." Here, Prattis assembles symbols and metaphors - such as rivers, seasons, oaks, children, and the muse - to convey an important message about the planet and the environment. This is a message that we can't hear too often. At the same type, these same symbols and metaphors hold deep messages about being human. The Muse, our inner creative voice, encourages us not to forget the creative, spontaneous, more eternal version of ourselves. Autumn encourages us to be mindful of what's really important to preserving and maintaining ourselves. The Oak encourages us to be strong and find ways to be resilient in life. The author cleverly uses symbols to make the connection between our own health and the health of the planet. This is a book for everyone. But especially for people who need a meaningful escape from the hectic rush of life. Readers will find themselves swept away by the eternal metaphors and messages in this book. This is a great read.
Carol Gravelle, Writer
Through the words, in the lines, traveling through the paragraphs, the images, the authentic embrace of nature's passion through her coarse river currents, colorful tree canopy, symbols of place in Nature as she is found in us soars in the poems such as "Creation Calling" and "The River Speaks" while the circle of Life and Death speaks of the sweeping power of water and her finger to mold and unmold any tree caught on the rocks' edge as depicted in "Ancient Tree in Winter." Dr. Prattis illumines the path and calls us to listen to the millennial old song of Nature's hidden beauty.
Pema Namgyal, Tibetan Poet
Dr. Prattis' new book "FOUR PHASES: Lost, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring" helped me to see our current state of the world through poetry and prose. We live in a dire need of better understanding and a different way of living. Through the author's deep connections with many spiritual traditions he showed me, not only that we have the knowledge and means, but also that we can live ecologically in a sustainable way. This coincides with Tibetan poetry.
Professor Koozma J. Tarasoff
This book raises the fundamental issues of peace, climate change, Coronavirus pandemic, respect for nature, and the survival of our species deserves public attention. Ian Prattis, retired anthropology professor in Canada's capital Ottawa, Guru in India, Zen teacher, Founder of Friends of Peace, and award winning author attempts just that. He does it by combining nonfiction with poetry (an innovation in itself), shows us how to set a moral example to our children, uses metaphors of kindness to make good things happen spontaneously, and gives us the tools of dealing with stress and burnout. All this was done by a mature man who once befriended a wolf as a pet, met with female shamans, and went to India for two years of training with wisdom people. With a gentle smile, he invites us to walk carefully as we breathe in and out in search of peace, healing and mental health. On our part, we need to visualize a better state of being by connecting reality to the magic state of mind and the silence within. This path is courageous, but requires us to pay attention to our surrounding ecology. In search of peace, for example, we need to get to know the stranger if we are to survive on our beautiful planet. Bravo, Ian, you have given us hope in a troubled world. For the purist at heart, Ian offers the following: 'Activism without mindfulness practice can lead to disillusionment. Also spirituality without an engaged expression is equally unbalanced.'