A blog about meditation, activism, dharma, buddhism, and… song!

I’m a meditation teacher trained in the Burmese and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. I came into meditation practice via activism inspired by the Quaker and Catholic organizers  in the peace movement, particularly those  involved in the Alliance for NonViolent Action (ANVA), and the civil disobedience and industrial conversion efforts at Litton’s Cruise missile plant near Toronto. I’ve also been involved in East Timor solidarity  work, and, more recently, in Indigenous solidarity work, particularly in Nunavut. I’m inspired by the social and ecological justice spirituality of Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Rosalie Bertell, Phil Berrigan, Gary Snyder, Alice Walker and Elisapee Oootoova, as well as the teachings of Nagarjuna, Ajahn Chah,  Buddhadassa Bhikkhu, Clare Culhane, Ivan Illich and Noam Chomsky.

E-mail: dharma_eh [at] yahoo.ca
Some of my other writing is posted at: http://www.lionsroar.ca/  and at: https://sfu.academia.edu/DerekRasmussen

Because it is an orientation all of us newcomers* could benefit from, here is Elisapee Ootoova’s Inuktitut poem-speech given to assembled dignitaries in Iqaluit during founding ceremonies for establishment of the Nunavut Territory April 1, 1999.  These (translated) remarks were a marked contrast to anything else said that day; her words show a completely different mindset/philosophy than government bureaucrat-control, corporate-resource extraction, or Euro-American utilitarianism…

“Nunavut, from this moment: sea mammals, we state to you: the water, the sea do not pollute our sea–it is our home; do not make it a concern, do not contaminate it; so that we may continue to be a food resource. Our Creator has created us to provide food for you.

As fish we state to you: the lakes, look after the lakes. manage your fresh water so that we will not be contaminated and we can continue to be a food source, because our Creator has created us to be a food source for Inuit.

The mammals of the land, we state to you: please take care of the land and the vegetation; please do not contaminate us for they are our only food and our only habitat; so that we may not be a concern, and continue to be a food source, and a source of clothing. Our Creator created us, so that we could be utilized, by you.

The air of Nunavut–those of us who are birds say to you: because we fly through the air over vast distances to migrate to the Arctic–please watch over the land and the air, so that we will not be contaminated, and remain a food source for you.

Our Creator has created us so that we could be here with you,

for as long as the sun shall set,

for as long as the sun shall rise.”

(*’Newcomers’ being all of us who have been accepted here in the last 400 years by Host peoples who trace their histories back 5000-15,000 years.)


3 thoughts on “About

    1. Hi John!
      A thousand apologies for the crazy late reply to your note from last year (!). Argh, I’m so sorry!
      (Is there some kind of equivalent ‘Darwin Awards’ for the Internet?–ie. “blogs destined to go extinct due to author’s neglect”? Put me in the running.)

      In any case, in answer to your question, here is a bit of a description of our Dharma activities. Thanks so much for inquiring; and once again sorry for the delay in replying. –Derek

      The Morin Heights Dharma House (Dharma Maison de Morin-Heights) is part of a network of Dharma communities originally inspired by the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche; places like Clear Sky, Crystal Mountain, and the Sunshine Coast Retreat House in BC; Awaken in Toronto, the Dharma Centre of Canada, and Crystal Staff in Ontario; and overseas: Dharma Japan, Wangapeka (NZ), and the Origins Centre (Australia). These communities seek to unfold Buddhadharma teachings combining the best from Eastern and Western traditions with scientific and artistic paths of unfolding.

      The Morin Heights Dharma House offers regular classes and retreats and helps to coordinate teaching by Derek Rasmussen in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Morin Heights, Quebec. Derek is a social and eco-justice activist and graduate of the three year Buddhist Seminary and Academy program at the Dharma Centre of Canada. Since receiving lay ordination from the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche in 1992 he has been teaching meditation tinged with activism, ecology, music and humor; he blogs here.

      For info on Ottawa, Montreal or Morin Heights Classes contact Jane Marenghi:
      c/o Morin Heights Dharma House
      52 Chemin Watchorn, Morin Heights, Quebec
      (450) 226-6453

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