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Cortes Island

This post is dedicated to my first students in Forest Bathing and Sea Scrubbing, a workshop that took place at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, north of Vancouver. Canada’s West Coast is the hometown of Greenpeace and is a place of intense mental activity coming from the progressive youth of the world. Every time I visit, the vigor and enthusiasm of the people I meet is a welcome surprise.

When I went into the vegetable garden in Cortes, I was greeted by another unexpected sight: a monster lily. This perfume factory from south eastern Tibet is on my bucket list. It is called Cardiocrinum giganteum, growing in cool moist soil to over 12 feet (4 metres) in height. The white flowers carry a red-purple stripe inside as a traffic signal to flying pollinators. Despite getting seeds from the Irish Garden Plant Society (IGPS) for some twenty years now, I have failed to grow this green teddy bear. I skulked around the lily every single day I was in Cortes.

Leaving Cortes Island for Vancouver International airport I had an unexpectedly eventful flight by seaplane, and arrived in the city feeling shaken. Luckily, Janet Law of the Unity Centre in Vancouver saved the day. She did not leave me out of her sight and we drew a magnificent crowd for the morning meditations when I spoke of Gougane Barra in Ireland and its wall of prayer, and my hopes for world peace. The Call of the Forest film was shown in the evening to a huge crowd. We packed the hall from wall to wall with hundreds of people. And Banyen Books’ supply of my work sold out early, so I signed napkins and pieces of paper as a substitute for books.

Back home, things are changing. Many people are putting their pedal to the metal and taking charge through environmental initiatives. One of these is Peter Croal with his National Healing Forest Project. There is one in Edmonton and two more are being developed in Perth and Winnipeg. His website is if you want to help and be part of the cure for this planet into the future.

The other is the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Peace Run, an international torch run which was started in India with the intent of bringing people across nations together. The participants will run through the garden here on July 24th. You can find their website at

Only together have we any hope of stopping the advance of climate change, and there’s no time to waste!

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