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Mumbai massacre survivor wants to spread peace

Since returning from India, as a wounded survivor of the Mumbai massacre, Montreal actor Michael Rudder has talked about peace and the value of forgiveness, posing questions like: “If they can train to hate, can I train to love?”

Now he’s trying to get beyond talk, into action, by producing a New Age concert featuring two gurus who have touched his life.

Why now? Because he can.

“I’m mending and mending,” Rudder said. “There’s still some ongoing stuff. Emotional stuff that comes up and physical stuff that’s hanging around. (A bullet remains embedded in his abdomen.) But I’m feeling so much better, stronger.”

Strong enough to finally bring to fruition a project that was in the planning stages before his life and the lives of so many others were forever altered when a group of Pakistan-based terrorists went on a deadly rampage in Mumbai between Nov. 26 and 29, 2008.

Rudder was one of the 308 who were wounded during the attacks, but two friends were killed as they sat beside him at dinner in the Oberoi Trident Hotel. (The total death toll of 172 included two people from Westmount, Michael Moss and Elizabeth Russell.)

Rudder was travelling in India with a group of 25 people led by meditation master Charles Cannon of the Virginia-based Synchronicity Foundation.

Cannon himself was not at the table (he was trapped upstairs in his room for 48 hours), but the vice-president of his organization, Alan Scherr, and his daughter, Naomi, died beside Rudder.

Now he’s bringing Cannon to Montreal to appear next week on-stage with Quebec New Age recording artist Patrick Bernard at the KoSA Centre in N.D.G.

Both people have been key inspirations to Rudder. Bernard will perform his chants inspired by sacred Sanskrit, Hebrew and Latin texts, self-accompanied on guitar and synthesizers. Cannon, who will be travelling without his musical instruments, will restrict himself to reciting 14th-century Persian poetry by Hafiz.

Cannon, a former actor, also will give meditational seminars while he’s here. But the concert performance will be something of a departure for Cannon, Rudder said. “I thought it would be great to have the two of them on stage together. They both have the gift of taking you deep into yourself.”

That’s the thing about peace. Rudder believes you get it from the people who have it. Will he be participating in the concert himself ? “Not to my knowledge,” he replied, “unless I trip and make a noise.”

But Rudder sees this venture, which he is bankrolling himself, as a possible move into a new career as a producer. Since the attack, he has done a few roles in French film and television and some dubbing, but, unsure of his strength, he hasn’t yet returned to the stage.

Whatever he does, from here on in, is going to be about peace. “I’m promoting it as an experience,” he said. “If you have an experience of peace in your life that is beyond your normal understanding, then you want to find out what that was and go there. If you have no experience of peace, only hate, then that’s what you’re going to create.”

Meditation for Peace takes place Friday at 8 p.m. at the KoSA Centre, 5325 Crowley Ave., in N.D.G. Tickets, $40. Call 514-656-5672 or go to www.kosacentre.org.

Charles Cannon will give a free information session with demonstration on Thursday, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. He also will give a full-day seminar called High-Tech Meditation and Holistic Living, on July 25 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the KoSA Centre. Tickets, $125, include a book and CD set. Call 514-656-5672 or Ticketpro at 514-790-1111.

[via Montreal Gazette]

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