Simplicity is really using the minimum that you need to enjoy the fullest life.

Benjamin Crème

The following words were found in the December 2010 issue of Share International. They are from Benjamin Crème’s The Art of Living.

Simplicity has a role to play because as the path of evolution is followed, you find that all creatures, first of all, want to do nothing but eat. Then as the organisms become more and more complex, so their needs become more complex. Then you get human beings, a massive 6.5 billion of us living on planet Earth, living the most complicated lives, creating an infinite number of goods of all kinds, usable and unusable, useful and useless, which are filling the shops and the storehouses of the whole world. That is not to count the millions of tons of useless armaments which clutter and threaten the world.

Just take a walk down one of the main avenues in Tokyo, for example, and go the area where you can buy technology of all kinds: mobile phones, cameras, televisions or computers. You can buy millions of them. Every building is filled, from the first floor to the 20th, with nothing but all kinds of communication gadgets.

Will it get simpler? Is simplicity a part of it? I would say that simplicity is very much to do with the art of living. My experience is that as humanity grows and life becomes more and more filled with objects, with technologies, it becomes less and less simple, and it goes further away from what we are calling the art of living. We do not know how to live. It is not a good way to live, to fill storehouses with all these call phones and computers. They should be distributed if useful, or not made if useless. It is commercialization gone mad.

As we evolve, as the art of living develops in humanity, as we are willing to give up somewhat this complicated overproduction, we will find that simplicity is the keynote.

Simplicity is really using the minimum that you need to enjoy the fullest life. The fullest life can be lived as an art, but it needs simplicity. So that when we enter the New Age properly; when the art of living is taken seriously by humanity and is being recognized and developed; when harmlessness and the Law of Sacrifice are controlling it, then you will find a greater and greater simplicity also. The ‘wilderness experience’ will show humanity the need for simplicity. And the more complex the life, as in, perhaps, America today, the more difficult it may be to accept the simplicity of the future. But it will be a happier time because there is great happiness to be had in simplicity.

 Other related posts:

The Art of Living

More on the Art of Living

 

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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, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“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

I was cleaning out some old and redundant word documents when I came upon the following words I received in an email a few years ago. I have no idea who the author is but I am indebted to him or her. Life is simple, isn’t it?

Go in beauty and peace, John

 
On a positive note, I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, no matter how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:

I’ve learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents,

you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands.

You need to be able to throw something back

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you

But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,

your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide  something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch — holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

 

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator 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.

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


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I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my world. It may be a little different from the norm. But it is the life of my conscious choosing. It works for me and allows me to find fulfilment through service and simplicity of living.

At the age of twenty-five I had a highly stressful and challenging management position in customer services with Bell Canada. Each of the three men who’d had the job before me ended up in the hospital with a stress-related illness. During my annual physical with our company doctor it was found I had high blood pressure. Remember, I was only twenty-five. A few months later I headed off to the Middle East as an advisor with the international arm of my company. I began to travel. My perspective changed and I haven’t worked nine-to-five since.

I do what I love. So does my wife, Lucia. We don’t own much and nothing owns us. We have the freedom to listen to the spirit that calls in the night and whispers sweet melodies at dawn. We love our life, our family and each other. We love this place we live in and the community of friends with which we share our lives. We’ve needed to sacrifice a few material possessions and the financial buffer we’d had earlier in which to pursue our dreams. We wouldn’t have done it any differently. We are so lucky!

The following is a synopsis of last week’s experiences for me.

March 7 to 13, 2010

Sunday was a wonderful day out for Lucia and me doing walks in the beautiful world-renowned Bay of Islands which is just a little over a one hour drive from here. A link to a post describing that day is here.

Monday was a day of writing and included a visit by a talented and sensitive young man who had been unjustifiably threatened with dismissal at his place of work. The rest of the week entailed drafting a letter of support for him to his employer and numerous calls by Lucia and me to sort this mess out. For two hours in the afternoon I joined a small group of people practicing old-time songs to sing at a fundraising dinner for Far North Hospice coming up on Saturday night. Lucia and I closed out the day with a beautiful walk on the beach together and were treated to an amazing sunset.

Tuesday began with Lucia’s weekly yoga class attended by a group of local ladies, a visiting man from the UK and me. After spending an hour-and-a-half giving a Touch for Health balance to a client/friend, it was time to address the computer. For the next few hours I was engrossed in formatting my new book. It’s quite a satisfying and exciting exercise to see the words begin to look like a book with page numbers, chapter headings and the like. One can see the conclusion to the months and months of creative writing taking a concrete form. I also continued to tweak the new book cover I’d started the week before. In the afternoon I spoke on the phone with a friend in Arizona whom I’ve interviewed in the past. He’s a deeply sensitive and creative individual and it was this conversation, together with the one with the young man the day before that inspired me to write the article entitled How to be Sensitive, Vulnerable, Creative and Safe in an Unfeeling World.

The day finished with a journey with friends into Kaitaia for our weekly session of Scottish Country Dancing.

 

Bottle Nose Dolphins in New Zealand's Far North

 

Wednesday’s highlight came at two o’clock when Lucia rushed in from her walk on the beach to get me. An excited group of primary age children staying at the Christian Youth Camp here had the privilege and pleasure of playing with a large school of dolphins right by the shore here at Coopers Beach. I quickly got into a bathing suit and jumped in with them. What a buzz! There was a pod of approximately 15 adult dolphins rounding up kowai, a local fish. The dolphins took turns out from their feeding work to entertain the kids (of all ages). We don’t often have the dolphins so close to shore so this was a special treat. For these city children the experience will never be forgotten.

Wednesday evening saw me on the radio for a fascinating interview about mental health and healing in the modern world. For more on that see the blog and interview here.

Thursday afternoon I was invited to attend a class for homeschoolers with an Italian operatic singing ORFF teacher. ‘What, dare say, is that?’ you ask.

Carl Orff (1895-1982) was a German composer and educator who developed a unique approach to music education. Orff defined the ideal music for children as “never alone, but connected with movement, dance, and speech—not to be listened to, meaningful only in active participation.” Orff said, “Experience first, then intellectualize.” Based on this ideal, the Orff approach builds understanding of concepts and skills through connecting students with the music by experiencing it on all levels. These levels include speech/chants, movement, singing, drama, and by playing pitched and unpitched instruments.

The above paragraph was copied from http://www.classicsforkids.com/teachers/training/orff101.asp There is a wealth of further information on that website.

I will see about having the teacher, Lilia, on the radio soon. I’ll let you know if this comes to pass. Below is a clip to give you an idea how Orff works. I have to say it was a lot of fun. It was like Brain Gym to music. The children did better than me!

Thursday evening I walked along the beach and turned inland to a friend’s place for a couple of hours of chanting, followed by meditation. One friend, a talented semi-blind musician originally from Switzerland, recently returned from an extended stay in India. He shared some new chants with us, accompanying them on his harmonium. The friend, Shelley, who hosts these evenings each week, is a skilled and talented homeopath who is currently studying two books outlining new remedies (nosodes) for diseases carried in meat. A nosode is a remedy consisting of the product of some specific disease administered in minute doses for the cure of the same disease. I’ll have Shelley back on the radio in June to bring everyone up to date on these new challenges to people’s health. Here’s a link to a previous interview with her.

Friday began with my usual walk on the beach but it began a little later than usual because I’d been particularly productive writing first thing. I met a man, a retired local farmer, on the beach and leapt immediately into a far-ranging discussion. I realise it is this kind of chance meeting that give richness to my life. For me, freedom is having the time to honor the synchronistic encounters that occur regularly if we have the eyes to see them. Simplicity of living is by no means dull. It is exciting in the nicest sort of way. There is a feeling of joyful expectancy that doesn’t go away.

Bronze Whaler Shark

When heading out for my afternoon swim, a man warned me that there was a huge shark that had been hanging out by a buoy around which I swam most days. He said it was twice his size and said he wouldn’t swim because of it. I asked if was a Bronze Whaler and he replied in the affirmative. These sharks come into our bay each summer. I know of no one who’s ever been hurt by one. I went in for my swim but I must say I did stay a little ways from the buoy. It was a wonderful, refreshing swim. I saw no shark.

Saturday, I walked into Mangonui, our picturesque little fishing village to go to the weekly market and to pick up some bread from the local bakery for our daughter, Asha. On the way home I stopped at a roadside stall to buy some lettuce and cucumbers. The owner/gardener picked the produce while I followed them around. How’s that for service? They even gave me some seedling lettuces and bok choy for our garden. We had visitor in the afternoon, and then Lucia and I attended the forty-fifth wedding anniversary of some lovely friends who’ve recently moved here from the U.K.

I had to leave a little early in order to be on time for the fundraising for Hospice at the local lawn bowling club situated just around the corner. The singing went well. The place was sold out and over $2000.00 was raised for Far North Hospice. It was a successful evening, even for the diehard cricket fans watching the television screen in the corner. The Kiwis won a test from arch rival Australia. By the time I walked home along the beach under a starry sky at eleven o’clock I was more than ready for bed.

I was up early writing most days. And, of course, each day began with yoga and meditation and a walk and was highlighted in the afternoon with a swim. For more on my daily routine check out this post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my discourse as much as I’ve enjoyed the actual happenings. I’d love to hear your comments.

John

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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, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

I’m presently working on two books simultaneously. One is the sequel to In Search of Simplicity. It will be called Beyond the Search.  The other is a little book of essays, quotes and affirmations. That one is being read by a friend now.

I thought I’d paste below a few  pages from the very beginning of Beyond the Search. It will be available soon.

John 

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator 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.

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

 Contents

 Introduction

A Dream

Chapter 1: A Cross-Continental Journey

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The Path of the Spirit is Magical

                

Part One: Land of Enchantment

Chapter 2: A Place in the Sun

Turquoise Mountain

Cornplanter

Close Encounter of a Serpentine Kind

A Warm and Feathered Welcome from Nature

A Transplanted Eccentric

In the Arms of the Angels

Chapter 3: Cooperating with Nature

Of Worms and Other Wild Things                                                                                              

A Taste of Perelandra

A Loving Welcome to a Strange World

Of Bathrooms and Bidets

Aggravating Agitator

Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered

The Garden Symphony

Will You Go Through the Fire With Me?

Rock Squirrels

All Are Welcome

Chapter 4: The Challenges of Solitude

More Encounters of a Serpentine Kind

There is Power and Grace in a Name

This Was Our War

The Hailstorm

Chapter 5: Of Gold Mines and Babies

Teaching a Horse to Fly

The Resistance Movement

The Threat

The Hearing

The Birth of My Teacher

The Storm after the Calm

The Turning Point

Chapter 6: The Self-Sufficient Life

The Essential Importance of Trees

A Solar Food Dryer

Water: A Precious Resource

The Essene Way

Who Were the Essenes?

Our Version of the Essene Diet

An Admirable Bean

The Fire of Life and Cooking with the Sun

More Snakes with Rattles

Graduation to Wild Foods

Diet for a New America

Chapter 7: Gardening Naturally and Organically

Why Use Organics?

The One Straw Revolution

The Founder of Permaculture

Permaculture Principles: Guidelines for Sustainability

Chapter 8: Moving on From the Dream

Surrender

Jellie and the Peace Walkers

A Change of Plans

There’s Only One Way to Spell Truth

A Peace Walker Returns

Lashings of Ignorance and Dollops of Greed

Part Two: Arizona

Chapter 9: Cherry Valley Ranch

Restoring Health: Investigations of a Natural Kind

Educational Observations

Part Three: Golden Bay

Chapter 10: Welcome to the Land of the Long White Cloud

Fruit Forest Farm

A Gentle Approach to the Possum

Willing Workers on Organic Farms

Retreats in Wangapeka

Peace Pilgrim

A Reformed Rainmaker

Love is Letting Go

The Man Who Planted a Forest

The Dream of a Frenchman

Part Four: Canada and Europe

Chapter 11: A Risk Worth Taking

Pulsing in Provence

A Modern Indian Saint

There’s An End to Depression

Linguistic Labors of Love

Chapter 12: Can One Let Go This Much?

Amsterdam Respite

Close Encounters of an Artistic Kind

Sahaj Marg

Chapter 13: Finding Balance

The Oldest Organic Orchard in the Country

Traditions to Touch the Heart

The Roots of Relationship

Epilogue: Some Lessons Learned

 

 

Introduction

Beyond the Search is my story. It also contains the stories of those I’ve met along the way and those who’ve walked the path before. I may not have met them all, but the trails they’ve blazed and the examples they’ve lived illuminate the story and at times carry my pen across the page.

In my first book, In Search of Simplicity, I describe the magical, serendipitous journey through many lands that brought me from the brink of death, finally, to that inner place from whence we all emanate—that place of absolute power and love, the Source of all creation. That discovery changed my life.

I also found, towards the end of my years-long quest, in a remote hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas, the woman of my dreams—Lucia. That discovery, too, changed my life.

In the course of my travels a dream began to form: a dream of returning to the land; a dream of self-sufficiency in the high deserts of New Mexico, to a place I’d never been before.

Beyond the Search chronicles our attempt to live the dream; to live simply, nobly and in harmony with nature and each other; to live an unfettered life, unplugged and disconnected from all forms of media, while remaining connected to the messages coming from nature and from within.

It is the story of our challenges and adventures—from rattlesnakes and a devastating hailstorm to an international gold mining company intent on developing an open pit mine on the other side of our fence.

Beyond the Search is a triumph of the spirit. It is an inspiration to anyone wishing to live a little more simply, a little healthier and more connected with nature.

Join me: join us, on this journey into a world of cooperation and great peace for all the nations and peoples of this planet.

I hold the pen, but who is the author of the story?

I walk the path, but who guides my feet along the way?

In an age in which we are taught we each forge our own destinies can any of us escape a deeper destiny, a timeless book in which we each inhabit a page?

In an age that preaches independence are any of us truly independent—from each other and from the spirit that carries us along? A spirit barely hidden from the world we call reality; a reality which is but a meager impression in the macrocosm of life.

In these pages you will come to know me and Lucia, the woman who shared my dreams and who continues to dream with me today.

You will follow our sometimes faltering steps on our shared journey as we join in creating gardens and a family in New Mexico, Arizona, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands. A humbling discovery was made in the years described herein: to realize the truth is one thing; to live it is another.

In the end it is neither the degrees we’ve attained nor the positions we’ve held that measure our success. It’s the love we’ve shared and that we allow to flow through us that is the real measure of who we are.

I openly share my life and my love with you. At times I play the fool. Always I am the eager student. In reading this story perhaps you too will be my guide. Welcome.

John Haines

A Dream, 2007.

It was a beautiful crystalline American Southwest summer day with nary a cloud to mar the azure tint of the sky. We were traveling north on the interstate highway and had just passed a small modern city. My passenger was a high school student, Michael, in his late teens. He had been visiting and helping us for a few days. Earlier that same stunning morning we had said goodbye to Lucia before jumping into the car for the two hour drive to the airport. Michael was flying home to his parents in Vermont.

The road followed a narrow ridge of rock and earth, like the back of some ancient giant dragon, the rest of whose body had been devoured by the sands and rocky scree of the New Mexican high desert plateau. On our left stood mammoth centuries-old trees, the likes of which one only finds in a handful of protected areas anymore. After this narrow band of trees the earth fell away sharply to the endless flat, open desert below. On our immediate right plummeted another cliff into a gorgeous, turquoise lake, an unexpected oasis in an otherwise stark and parched environment.

“Michael, look! They’re cutting down some of those old trees.” My voice was tinged with awe. There was no judgment. I was simply amazed to see the magnitude of those trees, some of whose trunks were now dangling precariously, ready to fall at any moment. Men with huge chainsaws worked feverishly to sever the remaining bits of wood that just held the trees together.

As I returned my visual attention to the task of driving the car, I saw, to my amazement, that our vehicle had left the road and we were now soaring over the lake with the full momentum of the 70s era airborne Chevrolet. I hadn’t heard or felt when we broke through the guardrail, as my logical brain said we must have done. It was obvious we would soon crash head on into the approaching cliff.

Just to the right of this cliff I noticed a sort of natural, twisting rock lane rising up from the shore of the lake, as if a lava flow from some dreamtime volcano had frozen in place. This lane led to a mostly horizontal stretch of rock, above which soared a broad, rainbow-shaped arch of solid rock. The unreal blue of the sky and the rugged landscape beyond could be seen in part through this huge, natural arch.

All this was noted in a furious instant. I made a decision and turned to Michael.

“Let’s head for that lane of rock to the right of the cliff.”

Now you know that one can’t control the direction of a car once it leaves the surface on which it is being driven. Michael and I didn’t know that. Together we leaned and looked in the direction we wished to go. The car responded instantly to our intentions. It would be touch and go, but based on our present trajectory I estimated we would just clear the lake, if we were lucky.

Above us, barely visible in the shadow of the arch, were the faces of a man and two small children, each anxiously watching our approach.

Luck was with us and we hit the lane, tires bouncing and skidding, just where it rose from the lake. The onlookers smiled with relief and so did we.

Just another day in paradise, I thought as we drove on and returned to the interstate. Michael made it to the airport on time.

 

 Sangre_de_Cristo_Mountain_sunset

A Cross-Continental Journey

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Kansas, February, 1989.

I’d been driving all day in the second hand Ford pickup I’d purchased the week before in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was Santa Fe I had left in the light of a rising sun twelve hours earlier. From the shadows of the Sangre de Cristo peaks, I’d driven north to Colorado through the forested foothills of the Rockies. It had been yet another beautiful clear day, with the cool winter sun reflecting rainbows from the snow on the side of the road.

At Colorado Springs, an immaculate military town, I’d turned east, losing elevation as the gentle rolling hills and high plateau in the rain shadow of the mountains gave way to the flat, monotonous stubble and snow-covered prairies of Kansas.

Kansas. The name and the place forever remind me of someone else embarking on a magical journey. Dorothy and her dog Toto left the dust bowl of Kansas and followed a yellow brick road to find a wizard in the Land of Oz, a wizard who could direct them home.

I still found it amazing and somewhat magical how I had ended up here, a lone traveler in a small red truck on a slick road in Kansas, also heading home.

I grew up in Ontario, the place I was now aiming for like a bee pulled to honey, or a metal filing irresistibly attracted to a magnet, on this solitary cross-continental winter drive.

Five years and a month earlier I’d left my work, my family and my home in Canada on an adventure. That adventure had carried me and my backpack from the Middle East, where I’d worked two years as an advisor to Saudi Telecom, through Europe, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand to Papua New Guinea in search of truth and simple, meaningful existence. From there I’d crossed the breadth of China and the nearly three-mile high Khunjerab Pass into the Hunza, a Shangri La-like land of apricots and centenarians. All told, eleven months were spent in the Himalayas. In McLeod Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama and a thriving Tibetan community, I’d overcome severe illness, experienced a profound spiritual awakening, met Dutch-born Lucia, my partner-to-be, and received a remarkable chain of synchronistic messages directing me to embark on a life of self-sufficiency near Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place I’d never been before.

I’d arrived in New Mexico to find that the place I was pulled to belonged to a man I’d met in Nepal almost a year before. He and I negotiated a settlement on the twenty acres of land his tiny handmade house sat on. And now I was bee-lining for Ontario to pick up the furniture, books and other personal belongings I’d put in storage five years and a month before, so that I could begin my experiments in self-sufficient living at the base of Turquoise Mountain, near Cerrillos,  thirty five minutes southwest of Santa Fe.

There’s something about solitary travel that allows the mind to wander in ways it has rarely wandered before. Perhaps the newness of the surroundings spawns newness of thought, unencumbered by the conditioned associations of the familiar. My mind and my thoughts investigated a question I’d been forced to ask a few times these last years.

What is the biggest fear most of us have, besides the fear of public speaking, that is?

The answer arrived without hesitation: The fear of dying. The fear of death.

Is this simply the ultimate fear of the unknown? If fear can be described as ‘false evidence appearing real’ the evidence is based more on our own conditioned ruminations than on any concrete fact.

How much had my scholastic and religious education prepared me for dying, for death? The Tibetans and ancient Egyptians each had ‘Books of the Dead’, clear guides for those left behind to assist those on the next stage of their journey after having left behind their bodies and their loved ones. And there was a whole recent body of Western literature that investigated the possibility of life after death.

Ah, the fear of death. It’s a strange thing, isn’t it, since death is inextricably linked to every birth. As far as I could see, from the moment one is physically born, every subsequent moment brings one closer to death. If that was the case, and I could see no way around it, if one fears death, one carries that feeling through every moment of living. This struck me as being a counterproductive way to live.

When I was struck down with spinal meningitis in Norway I’d been absolutely terrified of dying. I don’t know why I felt that way. I just know that was how I felt.

When Dr. Yeshi Dhonden treated me in India with the herbs of his specialty, Tibetan Medicine, my already severe symptoms initially deteriorated further and I feared the worst. I don’t know why; I just know that was how I felt.

It seemed to me my years of work and travel subsequent to my formal education had been packed with more consequential and practical learning than all my years spent in school. I began to view my entire life as a school.

I loved my traveling life, even though on more than one occasion, I’d been extremely ill and come face to face with my mortality. I love the unknown. I love adventure. Wouldn’t death be the ultimate adventure? Why had I feared it then?

It has been said that there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. Where does fear originate? If one lives completely in the present moment, is there room for fear?

I’d always considered myself an optimist. I’d even created a mnemonic in Saudi Arabia to help me with the challenges I faced in that land and work environment so different from anything I’d experienced to that point in my life: POP or Patience, Optimism and Persistence. It could have as easily been an extension of that well known adage, ‘If at first you don’t succeed: try, try again.’

My last couple of hours of driving I’d been accompanied by a steady drizzle. It reminded me of the kind of winter weather I’d left behind in Southern Ontario. It was the kind of weather that plays havoc with roads, turning them from dirty slush one moment to hazardous ice the next.

America is criss-crossed with interstate highways, the four lane divided roads designed to get motorists from point A to point B in the shortest possible time and, seemingly, in the least picturesque way.

This trip of mine was to take me from the continental divide to the Great Lakes, following in general the flow of water from the flanks of the mountains on an inexorable journey to the sea. I was determined to maximize my enjoyment of this trip. So I would take America’s Blue Highways, the two lane strips of asphalt that visited the little towns and scenic byways of this massive country.

Tomorrow I was due to follow the Missouri River until it disgorged its vast bounty into an even bigger river, the mighty Mississippi, at St. Louis, the biggest city in this part of the country. I was getting in touch with the land and waters Mark Twain had immortalized and which had fired my youthful enthusiasm so many years before. I was no Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer, but I was on a journey of discovery nonetheless.

I turned the vehicle lights on. It was that in-between time of dusk when visibility was at its deceptive worst. I turned north onto an even quieter two lane road, another byway new to me. There was very little traffic. My destination—Southern Ontario—lay mostly east and somewhat north of my present location, so I had to occasionally alter my course. I noticed too late that the drizzle, my misty companion of the last two hours, had stopped. Not only does visibility diminish at dusk, but the temperature drops.

I should have known better. I should have slowed down. As it was, I was already traveling at 45 miles per hour, well below the speed limit. My years spent overseas had dulled my winter driving senses.

I only knew the road had turned to ice when the truck began to spin. Fortunately no one was coming the other way on this quiet and dead-straight country road. Just as fortunately, the truck kept its spins, initially at least, to the icy pavement. The roadsides were more of the snow-covered fields I’d been traversing the better part of the day.

My attempts to adjust the spin were futile. I was definitely not in control. After a couple of full 360 degree revolutions the truck decided to slide straight backwards, presumably still at 45 mph. The headlights were doing an excellent job of illuminating where I had come from. I could only hope no other vehicles were coming the other way. The lights also made clear the deep ditches on either side of the road. Once my friction-free projectile of a vehicle left the road it would surely hit a ditch.

All this happened in a few short moments but, just as I’d experienced years before when catapulting over a waterfall in a canoe, time seemed to stand still. I could see I stood a good chance of dying. I seemed to have ample time to analyze this possibility. There was no fear. All I thought of was the inconvenience this would cause for my family and for Lucia, my partner-to-be. How would it be for them when they received calls from some stranger, probably a police officer, telling them of my unfortunate demise?

Unlike my experiences in Norway and in India, fear played no part in this. There was only crystal clear—dare I say icy clear—analytical thought free of emotion.

I continued to adjust the wheel, but the truck showed not one iota of respect for my efforts. The truck and I were in someone else’s hands and so was my family.

The truck turned again, 180 degrees, until the headlights were once more pointing in the direction I was headed. I began to pump the brakes, remembering my defensive driver training. The truck slid onto the right hand gravel shoulder and the braking took hold. I just managed to stop before entering the ditch.

The engine stalled.

I sat for a moment and gave thanks for my survival. Miraculously, the truck hadn’t hit anything and hadn’t blown a tire. I turned the key and the motor turned over, coughed, hesitated . . . and started! It was my lucky night.

I slowly and very carefully drove from the shoulder back onto the road. It was still slick, but I was crawling along now. It took considerable time to cover the five miles needed to reach the first little roadside hotel. Along the way, I passed two vehicles that had obviously left the icy road. One was overturned and attended by a tow truck and police car. Someone obviously hadn’t been quite as lucky as I.

When I settled into my simple lodgings for the night I reflected on my lack of fear during the brief icy trauma. I wondered if all my experiences traveling had taught me something after all. Death seemed less an unwanted stranger and more an obscure companion; not something to be feared, rather something to be accepted as an inevitable visitor at the end of life’s journey, at the end of one’s allotted time span. Death would visit sooner or later—at the right time.

I’d dodged the bullet once again and been given more time to live. There was work to be done. Tomorrow I would continue my cross-continental journey. Carefully. And then I would pick up the furniture and other possessions put in storage so many years before and return to New Mexico to begin my new adventures in self-sufficiency on a remote high desert property near Santa Fe.

I could see now this adventure involved another kind of work as well: the work of awareness.

I said time seemed to stand still when the truck began to spin. Reality exists where there is no time. Perhaps the trauma had temporarily jarred me from the illusory time-measured world into that timeless realm which the mind and thought cannot visit and where fear is a stranger.

Fear is surely a conditioned response that takes place in the conditioned world, rather than in the Eternal Present. Reality can only be found beyond the mind, and only revealed when the mind becomes quiet.

Surely, part of my new adventure would be to learn to return to that precious state of Reality at will, rather than relying on the suddenness of a trauma to jar the incessant thought and mind into a state of rest. I could see I needed to learn to live in a state of passive alertness, a state without judgment where one accepts things as they are.

Here surely there could be no problem. There are no problems in Reality. There are only problems in the minds of men. Oh, I had so much to learn.

To Be Continued

 Have you Found Your Ways to Serve Children on  Tree 110609

Are you doing that which you came here to do? Are you using your unique talents, gifts and abilities to uplift and enhance the lives of those around you? Have you found your particular ways to serve in these rapidly changing times? These need not be flashy or complicated. They can be as simple as picking up garbage from the roadside during a daily walk or smiling at the person you pass in the street. 

Are you sharing the knowledge, wisdom and insights you’ve gleaned in the course of your life’s journey? It is a universal law that as you pass on the gifts of wisdom and enlightenment you have received you make room for more to be given to you.

 Are you listening to your heart and truly doing that which you came here to do or are you caught in the traps of self indulgence and feeling forced to ‘earn a living’ in a job you do not like? There is great joy in following the heart and the nudgings of spirit. And there is wonder in watching the synchronicities unfold when you do so. This is when the magic happens. This is when those curious coincidences occur in such a way that it becomes blatantly obvious you are not alone.

 

I wish you great joy and ever-unfolding wisdom.

 

John

 

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.

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Campfire on Beach for Extending FriendshipWhenever uncertainty arises, stop. Be present, fully present. Watch your breath. If this isn’t enough, take a walk in nature, work in the garden or turn to a practice that cultivates stillness and inner connectedness such as yoga, qi gong or meditation.

Life is an ever-shifting balance between stillness and activity. Whenever activity dominates, and this easily happens in our busy lives, consciously cultivate stillness and the sense of peace this engenders. We can spend our lives chasing castles in the sky, when that which we seek has been with us all along. As Peace Pilgrim said, “You cannot give me anything I don’t need.”

All desire comes from a sense of lack. If there is one message I would like to make, it is that we already have enough stuff. Let’s put our focus on the real stuff of life. As Thoreau said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” I might add, “Give me friendship.” For me, this goes further than traditionally understood. Whenever I rest in the stillness, I feel immersed in a warm womb of love. I feel forgiven for all of my errors of judgement, for all of my frailties. I am loved and I Am Love. I know that we are surrounded by unseen, loving friends. They guide us and urge us to aim always for the highest.

Last night I joined our teenage daughters, Amira and Asha, and Amira’s boyfriend, Toby, on the beach for a campfire. The wind was roaring from the west. From time to time, it brought a driving rain. We huddled against a cliff somewhat protected from the elements. The night came on and the stars jousted with the clouds. We watched the fire, enchanted by the constantly changing colours of the flames. The salt in some of the driftwood burned an eerie yellow. Ultraviolet, royal blue, green and an occasional flash of turquoise created a rainbow of fire.

Potatoes, broccoli and carrots were placed in a bed of coals. The tide came in. I felt a deep sense of gratitude. I reflected on what I already had in my life and knew, in that moment, that I was fulfilled.

We dragged the aluminium-wrapped vegetables form the fire with sticks. The aluminium tore and some of the contents spilled on the sand. We laughed. As I ate my salad, the three teenagers munched on charred, sometimes crunchy vegetables. As always happens by the beach, a little sand found its way into the food. We laughed some more. Desert, prepared by Asha, was bananas with chocolate and marshmallow, also wrapped in aluminium. When removed from the fire they were a sticky, delicious mess.

The tide came in further and threatened to smother the fire. Asha, the active one, perched in the swaying branches of a nearby Pohutukawa tree, cackling with glee as successive waves flowed under her.

I relished the exquisite ecstasy of the moment. Immersed in darkness, flames dancing, wind crying, occasional drops of rain finding our sheltered alcove; an unknown bird calling from the water. Times like this remind one of our connectedness with everything. Are not the stars our sisters, the sun an elder brother, the moon a maiden meant for love? The sand crushed beneath us, yet supported our steps. The salty water of the sea and the sweet water falling from the sky cleansed and purified our thoughts. The entire orchestra of nature kept us fully present.

Cultivate a relationship with everything. One cannot feel alone with such a sense of connectedness. This is what I call extending friendship.

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I’ve come to realise that any action without love is meaningless, empty and ultimately unfulfilling.

 

Love greases the wheels. It’s the lubricant that makes our actions flow. Ultimately we come to realise that it’s the power and presence behind (or within) what we call reality, but which isn’t real. Only love, and I’m not talking about romantic love here, is real.

 

Only love is real.

 

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.

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Your information will not be rented or sold, ever.