May 2015


The beach described below.

The beach described below.

We were sitting with friends on the little beach beyond the long stretch of white sand at Rangiputa late one sunny Sunday afternoon.  Two of us had been swimming in the refreshing crystalline waters. We’d laid out a tarp and were picnicking, sharing thin slices of Peter Niepel’s delicious organic sourdough bread (procured by our friends at Kerikeri’s Saturday market) topped with local organic avocado, cucumber and courgette (purchased at the Kaitaia Farmers market).

I’d been sharing stories from Mary Ralph’s compilation of Doubtless Bay’s fishing community’s memories of the past. One such recollection was of the shark hunts in the Rangaunu Harbour and of the subsequent drying of the shark carcasses to provide Maori with a year-long food supply. Those days are long gone but I did see a two-metre-long shark cruise past me the year before while wading near this same beach.

Our friends shared the true tale of a friend of theirs in America. He was driving alone on a remote country road. He noticed something small and moving on the road and stopped to investigate. He was intrigued to find two mice slowly making their way across the road. They each held opposite ends of a tiny twig in their mouths. ‘What are they up to?’ he wondered, bending down for a closer look. It was then he noticed the one mouse was blind.

I’m reminded of the very special Seattle Special Olympics 100 yard dash in 1976. At the sound of the starting gun, all nine contestants started off in their own way, making their best effort to run down the track toward the finish line. That is, except for the one young boy who stumbled soon after his start, tumbled to the ground and began to cry. Two of the other racers, hearing the cries of the boy who fell, slowed down and looked back at him. Then without hesitation, they turned around and began running in the other direction—toward the injured boy.

While the other contestants struggled to make it to the finish line, the two who had turned around to run in the other direction reached for the boy and helped him to his feet. All three of them then linked arms and together they walked to the finish line. By the time the trio reached the end, everyone in the stands was standing and cheering, some with tears streaming down their faces. Even though by turning back and helping the boy who fell, these two Samaritans lost their own chance to win the race, they wore smiles on their faces because they knew they had done the right thing.

Competition presumes winners and losers. We all know the high of watching our modern day gladiators win an important match. We also know the agony of defeat. Let us not forget that we’re all in this thing together. Life is not a competition. As Albert Sweitzer once said: “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found to serve.”

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

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From a recent walk to Cape Brett

From a recent walk to Cape Brett

Often we don’t have the opportunity to create the circumstances of our lives. But we always have the opportunity to create our response to our life circumstances.

Equanimity is a quality at the heart of our ability to feel peaceful no matter what is happening around us.

When one rests in equanimity it doesn’t mean we don’t care about the world. We just accept it as it is. We rest in our own peaceful centre, knowing all is perfect just as it is, even if outer appearances would seem otherwise.

I’m reminded of the Chinese story of the prosperous man. Part of his prosperity is that he owns a horse.

One day his horse runs away. The man is devastated by his loss. He practically tears his hair our looking for his horse. What poor fortune, he thinks.

After a few weeks the horse returns with a wild horse. So now the man has two horses. What great fortune!

The man’s son tries to train the new horse. He rides it for a short time before falling off and breaking his leg. He may always limp. Terrible fortune for my boy, bemoans the man.

Then along comes the army through town, recruiting all the able-bodied young men for a war against the ‘barbarians’. Of course the son can’t go. Oh, what great fortune, thinks the man.

If one could always see the big picture and recognize the interconnectedness of all events one might not be so emotionally entangled with apparent outer circumstances. What may at first appear unfortunate may turn out otherwise. Just because you don’t always see the sun doesn’t stop it from shining. Just because you don’t always feel your heart doesn’t stop it from beating.

Appearances can indeed be deceiving. Thomas Merton encourages us to see the beauty in another. ‘To see the eagle in the egg, the butterfly in the caterpillar and beauty in the sinner.’

Does joy not naturally arise when we recognize the preciousness of life? The French philosopher Andre Guide asserts that we must ‘embrace joy as a moral obligation.’

I was listening the other day to Jack Kornfield. He relayed the following story.

Zorba was walking along and saw an old man planting an almond tree. As we know an almond tree is slow to grow and bear nuts. Zorba asked the old man why he was planting the tree. “I carry on as though I will never die,” answered the old man. “And I live,” said Zorba, “as though I might die at any moment.” They are both right, don’t you think?

A friend told us recently of a practice given her by her Essene teacher: What would you do if this was the last day of your life?

What would you do? Could you treat each day that way?

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101