In Search of Simplicity

ABOUT John Haines

John Haines
John Haines was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He now lives with his family in New Zealand’s lightly populated and stunning subtropical Far North. He’s lived in The Netherlands (twice), Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Mexico and Arizona, together with his first 25 years in Ontario, Canad More...



This search for simplicity carried me all over the world. You could call it a search for a simpler way of living, a more natural way of being. The external journey culminated in living for periods of time with two sets of agrarian people, one Islamic, the other Christian—the Hunzas in their Shangri La stronghold at the roof top of the world and the Trobriand Islanders at their doorstep perched on coral islets in the western Pacific. Each of these societies exists with grace and in balanced harmony with nature.

The internal journey took place while staying in Dharmsala, home of the displaced Tibetans and their leader, the Dalai Lama, in northern India. That journey carried me home to the place we’re all seeking, to the source of sustenance spoken of by every mystic, to the Heart of Life itself.

It is a chronicle of challenges: encountering a ghost, getting highjacked and more than once returning from the shadows of death with a mission. It is a story of import to every human being because it is the journey we are all on, a search for the meaning of life.

This true tale is filled with coincidences to the point of disbelief. The journey brought me in contact with inspiring people who dared to be different, who dared to be themselves. It is an epic adventure. It is a story of love. It has helped me to live my life with a simpler perspective and more meaning. I trust it does the same for you.

Years after the events described in In Search of Simplicity took place, I read The Celestine Prophecy for the first time. It felt like my personal journey mirrored that of the reluctant fictional hero created by James Redfield. I continue to be swept along on a great adventure (of my own making) to discover and to share the magic and the mystery of life. It’s waiting for us all behind every smile and with every breath of the wind. Enjoy!

John Haines

New Zealand, 2010

I like the idea that we are all multicultural. I have felt for a long time that I am multicultural and multidimensional. I am a man, a son, a brother, a husband, and a father. I am a gardener, a walker, a swimmer and a talker. I am a songwriter, a singer, a teacher and a learner. I am an artist and a friend. I am a peace worker. I have lived and worked with the Bedouin in Saudi Arabia and I have experienced their incredible hospitality and resilience. I have lived with the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea and I have observed the flow and dance and the social interdependence associated with the kula ring first described in detail by Bronislaw Malinowski. His marvellously vivid accounts of the way of life of the Trobriand Islanders have become classics in anthropology, none more so than his book Argonauts of the Western Pacific. I have spent months with Hunza people in what is today northern Pakistan. They have taught me much about living simply and in harmony with nature. In the Hunza I have looked into the eyes of the Aga Khan, the worldwide spiritual leader of the Ishmailis, and I have recognized a brother and a man of peace. I met Lucia (my best friend and my life partner), the Dalai Lama, and several life-long friends in Dharmsala in northern India. There too, I was assisted back to health from a serious illness by the amazing Tibetan doctor, Yeshi Dhonden. I have lived in Sydney and hitchhiked across the Nullarbor Desert. I have spent a week ensconced in an underground home in Coober Pedy and I have observed and read about the plight of the Aboriginal people, often estranged in their own homeland. I have lived in the American South West with my family where I was touched by the simplicity and depth of Native American culture. I have watched with admiration and respect as the Māori people have struggled to restore justice to a legal agreement between a colonial power and an indigenous culture. And I have lived with my family on two occasions in the Netherlands, where I have experienced what one particular old world culture and language is like. I was born and raised in Canada by parents of English and Welsh descent and I am Canadian. I live in New Zealand and I am a New Zealander. I am a citizen of the world. Every person I have met and every place I have touched has helped to shape the person I am today. Every person and every place is part of me. I feel their sorrow and their pain and I am one with their happiness and joy. More than once I have journeyed beyond the shadows of death and I have returned—with a mission. I have visited the place where all of creation began. A place that is infinitesimally small and infinitely powerful and loving. A place where there is no separation; where there is no you and me; where identity does not exist; where there is only Oneness and unity; a place some people would call God. And I have returned from there emboldened and strengthened and touched with grace. I have watched with helplessness as some members of humanity have enacted seeming injustices upon me and others and I have wallowed in despair. And I have climbed back from the depths of my own sorrow when I have again realised that the mark of my ignorance is the depth of my belief in injustice and tragedy. As Richard Bach once wrote in Illusions, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” I have drunk from the cups of poverty and wealth and I see little distinction between them. I seek solace from the Masters. They too are part of me. Their words remind me that I can be true to no one else if I am not true to myself. As Shakespeare has said “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Or, as Oriah Mountain Dreamer has poetically stated in her famous declaration The Invitation, “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.” As a boy I sang in the church choir. As a man I sing with people of all beliefs. When I listen deeply to the Heart of the Earth which is within me (and you) I hear a cry and a deep longing for peace. There are not six billion souls on this planet at this time for nothing. I am convinced that all of humanity shares a similar vision – a vision of peace. Our collective dream(s) and voice(s), applied cohesively, have an immense, unstoppable power. For years I have been consumed by a vision of the whole world singing together – a choir of angels clothed in human bodies, creating through song a world of peace: United We Sing And our voices are heard in the decision halls of the world, And the intention of our song is felt, As we the little people of the world see, finally, we do make a difference. The physical violence stops and weapons are no longer made As our governments follow Costa Rica’s example And no longer create armies of destruction. Defence departments are replaced with peace departments. And their efforts turn to worthy causes so that all of the world’s people have enough to eat and have clean, comfortable shelter, and a safe place to live. And we begin the reconstruction of our natural world That has been so sadly abused and neglected. We now have armies of children of all ages planting trees And the deserts bloom. As our voices resound around the world our hearts give a collective sigh of relief And peace descends upon us. And our children’s children will speak of this time with wonder: The time when the killing stopped; The time when the meek inherited the Earth United in song. Peace in ourselves, in our families, in our schools and communities, in our countries and in the world is not just a dream, it is inevitable. The timing depends on us. John Lennon’s words resonate within me. Will you let them resonate within you? You say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will live as one. John

“In Search of Simplicity is a truly amazing true story travel/adventure book by a loving and thoughtful man. I LOVED [this] book. I found it fascinating …inspiring, hilarious, moving.”


Amanda McBroom, actress, singer/songwriter and composer of the 1979 worldwide hit, The Rose.



In Search of Simplicity is nothing short of captivating. It's an incredible travelogue of the spirit, with a plot composed by the universe itself and an author who takes as much delight in language as he does in life. Whether you pick it up for inspiration or for escape, you'll discover that the entire book is evidence for how the whole world conspires to support and delight those who follow their hearts.”


Siona van Dijk, Director of Gaia Community

“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:


“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