“The pygmies of the Ituri Forest must be saved. They still represent the true human potential for love, peace and harmony, without crime or greed.” Jean-Pierre Hallet

Imagine an explorer who survived backwater fever, a knife slash in his leg, and a dynamite explosion that not only blew off his right hand at the wrist, but caused a 75 per cent loss of hearing. Though he was bleeding profusely, he swam across a lake, narrowly escaping crocodiles, and began a painful two-hundred-mile journey to reach medical aid. Jean-Pierre Hallet was that explorer and I reckon if he could live his dreams any of us can pursue ours. He was truly a giant of the 20th century. The following words summarize his life and were found at: http://www.midhudsongalleries.com/id8.html

Jean-Pierre Hallet was a man more intimately connected to Africa than perhaps any other westerner. His feats were legendary-what one expects of fiction and adventure movies. About his mission to save the vanishing Bambuti pygmy tribe in the Ituri Forest in Northeast Zaire, the newspapers and magazines of three decades reported it in various ways. He Saves Little People; A Giant Comes To The Rescue; He’s The Biggest Of The Little People of Zaire; Humanitarian Sows Seeds of Hope and Pygmies Have A Friend in Hallet.

A friend, indeed. In 1955 he lost his right hand, in an explosion, while dynamiting Lake Tanganyika for fish to feed a Pygmy tribe. In 1957 he was successful in obtaining, from the colonial government, official acceptance of his “Declaration of Emancipation” for the endangered pygmies. He lived with the Bambuti pygmies for eighteen months and learned six aboriginal languages and seventeen dialects. His extensive knowledge of the pygmy language resulted in a dictionary of more than 18,000 terms, which remains unpublished. He founded The Pygmy Fund in 1974, the only organization devoted to the preservation of the lives and culture of surviving forest dwelling Efe pygmies.

Born in 1927 in Louvain, Belgium, Jean-Pierre Hallet was the son of Andre Hallet, the famed Belgian post-impressionist painter, who lived in the Congo. Jean-Pierre played with pygmy children, north of Lake Kivu, in the northeastern part of the former Belgian Congo. At six, he left his playmates to go to school in Europe. He was already the height of an average adult pygmy in the forest. He returned in 1948 with a Sorbonne education. He was now an agronomist and a sociologist. Jean-Pierre was twenty-one. He was six feet five inches tall and 225 pounds. His incredible life was about to unfold and his reputation as “father to the pygmies” and the “Abe Lincoln of the Congo” was just beginning.

Jean-Pierre Hallet would become a heroic figure. He would become an authority on African culture and a blood brother to many tribes. He was an internationally renowned africanist, ethnologist, naturalist, author, lecturer, explorer, cinematographer, artist, African art authority and collector as well as a death-defying adventurer. He delivered more than 500 African babies, pygmy and non-pygmy. It would be difficult to find another man with such a resume.

He would author three books, the Kitabu trilogy. (Kitabu is roughly translated in Swahili as book.) Congo Kitabu, the first of the trilogy was autobiographical. It would be translated into twenty-one languages including Chinese and Russian. His own words say it best. “I grew up among the pygmies, learning everything that is their world,….making my first bow and arrow…..identifying birds and animals.”

In Animal Kitabu, he explained the odd double life of the hippopotamus, aquatic by day and terrestrial by night. “At the Rwindi Camp in the Congo’s Albert National Park, the hippos used to come on moonlit nights, walking a full mile from the Rwindi River, just to stand outside the restaurant and watch the tourists eating, drinking, chattering and playing cards. During the day, tourists went to the river to watch the hippos.”

In Pygmy Kitabu, his descriptions of the pygmies had palpable charm -“They are very amiable, warmhearted, fun-loving, sometimes mischievous but wholly non-aggressive characters, who behave more like the elves of European legend than the awful killer apes of modern myth.” He also wrote “They love to dance, sing, play the harp and flute, tell jokes, compose tongue twisters, and engage in thrilling sports like the grand old game of archery-ball.”

Jean Pierre Hallet withpygmyband

Human Potential, a magazine published by The Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, featured a cover story in the September 1975 issue entitled” To Save A People”. The cover photograph was a charming portrayal of a moment of tenderness between a pygmy father and child. The man behind the lens was Jean-Pierre Hallet who captured the warmth and the sensitivity of that moment. “To Save a People” was comprised of a series of conversations by M. Hallet as told to Senior Editor Herman L. Hoeh. Following is some of what he said.

About the pygmies: “The pygmies of the Ituri Forest must be saved. They still represent the true human potential for love, peace and harmony, without crime or greed. If people are judged by the quality of their hearts and minds, the ancestral pygmies are giants of mankind. Yet, our often blind, “civilization” is now responsible for the imminent extinction of those people by systematically destroying their forest. Sophisticated technology is self-destructive. Our ultimate survival can only be inspired by saving a simple people such as the pygmies…”

On the pygmy belief about death: “God willed it. If God willed it thus, it is because He had his reasons. One does not judge God.”

On his documentary, Pygmies: “In the fall of 1972, I made a full length documentary on the Efe pygmies wanting to raise funds to help them in their struggle for survival. The Zaire government was about to rule that the pygmies could not be photographed, since they felt that because of their “primitive” appearance they “are bad public relations for the new nation.”…..I managed to produce this graphic documentary incorporating into 90 minutes the essence of a lifetime of observation and understanding-the first and last ever made. In September 1973 the film was shown, at a press preview, at The Academy Award Theatre in Los Angeles. It was a great success: standing ovation and excellent trade reviews.”

Jean-Pierre Hallet was appealing and charismatic. He charmed Tonight Show viewers appearing as a guest of Johnny Carson. He was photographed with Dwight Eisenhower. Writing his eulogy, following his death on New Years Day of 2004, family friend, Donald Heyneman, Ph.D., wrote “…he could not enter a room without arresting all attention. He could commandeer any conversation usually redirecting it towards his worthy objectives. Strong opinions, strongly-and fully delivered were a trademark. He was indeed larger than life, a powerful presence. One who led a full, unrestrained unconventional independent and important life, Jean Pierre Hallet was, and remains, a significant force in the lives of all who were privileged to have known him.”

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


Angels for The Birdies 051009

Today I attended a day of yoga and meditation with a group of friends under the capable tutelage of my wife, Lucia. After lunch she read the following story out loud. I have read this story many times and it still brings tears to my eyes. I share it with you below. It is called The Birdies: A Father’s Story originally written Lloyd Glen, of Mission Viejo, California in 1994. This version has been revised somewhat from the original. For more about the story in its original form and why it was changed visit the following post:


I was enroute to Washington, DC for a business trip. It was all so very ordinary, until we landed in Denver for a plane change. As I collected my belongings from the overhead bin, an announcement was made for Mr. Glenn to see the Customer Service Representative immediately. When I got off the plane, a solemn-faced young man came toward me and said, “Mr. Glenn, there is an emergency at your home.” My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over. Woodenly, I followed this stranger to the distant telephone where I called the number he gave me for Mission Hospital. My call was put through to the trauma center where I learned that my three-year-old son had trapped underneath the automatic garage door for several minutes, and that when my wife had found him he was dead. CPR had been performed by a neighbor, who is a doctor, and the paramedics had continued the treatment as Brian was transported to the hospital. By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain, nor to his heart. The door had completely closed on his little sternum right over his heart. He had been severely crushed.

After speaking with the medical staff, my wife sounded worried but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness. The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son laying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife who stood and tried to give me a reassuring smile. It all seemed like a terrible dream. I was filled-in with the details and given a guarded prognosis.

Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was okay, two miracles in and of themselves. But only time would tell if his brain received any damage. Throughout the seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline.

All that night and the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before. Finally at two o’clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, “Daddy hold me” and he reached for me with his little arms. By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine when we took Brian home, we felt a unique reverence for the life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely. In the days that followed there was a special spirit about our home. Our two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were much closer to each other, and all of us were very close as a whole family.

Life took on a less stressful pace. Perspective seemed to be more focused, and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound. The story is not over!

Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, “Sit down Mommy. I have something to tell you.”

At this time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases, so to say a large sentence surprised my wife.

She sat down with him on his bed, and he began his remarkable story. “Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn’t hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the ‘birdies’ came.”

“The birdies?” my wife asked puzzled.

“Yes,” he replied. “The birdies made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me. One of the birdies came and got you. She came to tell you I got stuck under the door.”

A sweet reverent feeling filled the room. The spirit was so strong and yet lighter than air. My wife realized that her three-year-old had no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to him from beyond as “birdies” because they were up in the air like birds that fly.

“What did the birdies look like?” she asked.

Brian answered, “They were so beautiful. Theywere dressed in white, all white. Some of them had green and white. But some of them had on just white. You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the little boy. You told the boy to stay and not leave.”

My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed knelt beside Brian’s body and seeing his crushed chest whispered, “Don’t leave us Brian, please stay if you can.” As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that the spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form.

“Then what happened?” she asked.

“We went on a trip.” He said, “Far, far away.”

He grew agitated, trying to say the things he didn’t seem to have the words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words was difficult.

“We flew so fast up in the air. They’re so pretty Mommy,” he added. “And there are lots and lots of birdies.”

My wife was stunned. Into her mind the sweet comforting spirit enveloped her more soundly, but with an urgency she had never before known.

Brian went on to tell her that the “birdies” had told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about the “birdies.” He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck and an ambulance were there. He said the birdies told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be near him. He said they were so pretty and so peaceful, and he didn’t want to come back. Then the bright light came. He said that the light was so bright and so warm, and he loved the bright light so much. Someone was in the bright light and put their arms around him, and told him, “I love you but you have to go back. You have to play baseball, and tell everyone about the birdies.” Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye-bye. Then woosh, the big sound came and they went into the clouds.

The story went on for an hour. He taught us that “birdies” were always with us, but we don’t see them because we look with our eyes and we don’t hear them because we listen with our ears. But they are always there, you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper the things to help us to do what is right because they love us so much. Brian continued, stating, “I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We must all live our plan and keep our promises. The birdies help us to do that because they love us so much.”

In the weeks that followed, he often came to us and told all or part of it, again and again. Always the story remained the same. The details were never changed or out of order. A few times he added further bits of information and clarified the message he had already delivered. It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell such detail and speak beyond his ability when he talked about his birdies. Everywhere he went, he told strangers about the “birdies.”

Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this. Rather, they always got a softened look on their face and smiled. Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and I pray we never will be.

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

From the White Eagle Website

From the White Eagle Website

Another offering from The Quiet Mind: Sayings of White Eagle

 Keep Your Contact (pg. 18)

 Whenever you are tired or weary, seek the Presence of the Golden One, and draw into your soul His love, His gentle beauty, His refreshment. If you can keep your certain, sure contact with God, nothing can go wrong in your life. You have no need to worry about decisions whether to do this, that or the other. Your decisions will be made for you, but you must be awakened to the spirit, quickened in spirit, so that you will instantly respond to the gentle guidance of the almighty Presence within you.

 For more on the White Eagle Lodge visit:


 The following words come from the website given above:

 White Eagle – the bird of vision, of soaring wings and sunlit skies.

 A spirit guide whose teachings were revealed to Grace Cooke throughout her long life.

 The name `White Eagle’ is not attached only to an individual, but stands for a true vision through the mists of earth into a larger and more perfect life.

 The center of the White Eagle teaching is love and understanding towards all. All people, all living creatures are from the same source–the Light, the heart of Good. We are all one family, joined by a common bond, a sometimes unspoken understanding–love.

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

The Quiet Mind Book Cover

I’ve decided to begin posting regularly (no promises on how regularly) short excerpts from a beautiful little book, The Quiet Mind: Sayings of White Eagle. I trust you derive as much inspiration from these words as I have. Here’s the first. These are in no particular order.


Loving Means Seeing Good

You must learn so to act, so to live each day, that you are naturally, at all times, a being of love. Love is not sentimentality. Love is seeing good, seeing God, recognizing the divine law of cause and effect working throughout all life. To love is to be tolerant towards all men, towards all the happenings of daily life; to be patient, thoughtful, kind and meek. All these qualities are contained in the one word—love.

For more on the White Eagle Lodge visit:



Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.


Shahzad Rose

Shahzad Rose





I received the following story in my inbox early last year. I was touched and inspired and I duly forwarded it to a cadre of friends. Little did I know the implications this one simple act would have on my life.


The Rose


The first day of school our Professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. 

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant Squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids.”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I’ve always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed, she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream.

“When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it! There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing The Rose.

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.


After receiving the story from me by email, a dear friend, Dave, living just a block away from us here in Coopers Beach, asked if I knew that the writer of the song, The Rose, named Amanda McBroom, had a vacation home in New Zealand. I replied that I’d not even heard of Amanda McBroom; I’d always associated The Rose with Bette Midler. Dave then informed me that Amanda’s vacation home was in Coopers Beach and that she and her husband visited once a year.


I immediately googled Amanda McBroom, found her website and contacted her agent about doing an interview with her the next time she visited New Zealand. Our discussions and the eventual interview are the subject of another blog found here.