Saturday, March 31, 2007

From the Garden

This is the best time in the garden, everything is so fresh and green from the recent rains. The old pear tree is all flowers:

From the left: artichoke, the lemon tree, the newly planted tomatos and the rhubarb:

Handsome Joe, who gave me the lemon tree, came over for drumming Thursday night:

Friday, March 30, 2007


Manjushri is the bodhisattva of wisdom, one of the three main bodhisattvas of Tibetan Buddhism. The other two are Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva of compassion, and Vajrapani, bodhisattva of strength. Together they embody the three qualities that are necessary to progress towards enlightenment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Limbs and Branches

I have had this picture of nomads in the Sahara for years. It inspired me to take the following picture and then yesterday I saw the third picture with a similar motive on the blog Adonis.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lama Yeshe

Lama Yeshe in Kopan 1970

From a question and answer session with Lama Yeshe in Italy Oct. 18, 1982:

Q. I've been interested in Buddhism for a long time but I find it difficult to penetrate the teachings deeply because I don't have anybody to ask. Occasionally I can ask a geshe* some questions through a translator but as time goes by I find new questions and problems that are rather extensive and I don't know who to speak to about them.

A. It's good that as you think about the teachings more questions arise. Buddhism is a path of research into the universal reality of your own mind, and when you examine this reality and where it comes from, countless questions come into your mind and this process begins to shake your previously held concepts. However, from the practical point of view, you have to answer your own questions through meditation. I truly believe that you can't get satisfactory answers from anybody else. Perhaps I'm ignorant--of course I'm ignorant--but in my experience I've had to fertilize my own mind, be constructive and take personal responsibility, and that's the way I've found answers to my own questions.

So my experience also applies to you--unless you're merely seeking intellectual, verbal answers. But who wants those? If you have a philosophical question, we can give you philosophical Tibetan answers, but they probably won't fit your way of thinking. There are cultural differences in Western and Tibetan philosophical thought. Anyway, if your questions are strictly philosophical and you're seeking simply intellectual answers, then you can probably find some philosopher to reply, but if you're looking for something deeper you shouldn't expect an external teacher to be able to give you all the answers. That's not the Buddhist attitude.

Q. Thank you, but I am seeking deeper answers than the merely intellectual.

A. Then it's best that you find the answer within yourself through meditation rather than expecting some Italian monk or other teacher to tell you. Through a combination of analytical meditation and single-pointed concentration you'll get answers; the best answers.

*A geshe is a higher degree of teacher in the Tibetan tradition.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I met a young man who said: “I will not read books because I don’t want to be influenced.”
How naïve to believe this to be desirable or even possible.
We should be influenced; we must be influenced. “Influence brings accomplishment,” says Lao Zi. There is hardly anything truly original in our mental set-up. What makes it our own is how we accept influence.
At birth we know very few things by instinct and it is all by influence that we develop and hone our skills. There are books that are full of the wisdom of the past; if we think deeply of their content and bring the resulting understanding to the test of action then our understanding will become sound.
Action is all important and to be aware of our actions is the cornerstone of all spiritual practice. It is equally necessary in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. Action is everything we do and say and think, and since we act according to our wants, our needs, our ideas, our feelings, our assumptions, our expectations, our opinions, we have many things to be aware of and to see clearly, without bias, to judge fairly without you and me, me, me!


Saturday, March 17, 2007


This collage contains parts from letters from my father and from my aunt Inger, letters that came after I had been in prison in Morocco.
The writings in the background are mostly in Danish and consist of fragments, but the quotes from my father’s letter go: “Your situation surprised me very much,” and: “I cannot understand why you have to stay in that u-land.” From my aunt’s letter: “Never again cause me such emotional agitation as you have done,” and: “You understand my despair at knowing you in prison in Morocco where we thought you would become sick from the food and everything.”

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Astrological Events

Reg calculating

From my diary, Santa Barbara, April 18th, 1980:

Last night, as I come out from the dojo, Reg is calling out from his car: “What is that star next to the moon? Is it Venus?”
“Yes, it is Venus; the love star next to the emotion moon!” I say.
So, today is the day for emotional love coming up. It seems that 3 degrees before a conjunction there is an interference that blots out the influence of one of the planets. In the morning emotions clash and love is absent: Reg and I get in a quick ‘conjugal’ argument over the clogged kitchen sink and he turns his back on me to end the argument. We both have moon in Cancer.
Then: love shines and emotions are calm. Fred and I go downtown and do some shopping together. We have the connection of Venus through the earth signs of Virgo and Taurus.
At the time of conjunction between the moon and Venus, about two in the afternoon, there is a knock on the door. For once I look through the spyglass and see a distorted dark shape. I open, and there is Joey with his back to the door looking over his shoulder, immediately smiling and turning around. He has been away, working, but is now back with his girlfriend and a new bike, a Honda 750.
He pulls his shirt off. “I’ve gotten a new tattoo! It’s only half finished.” A dragon on his left shoulder blade. I can’t make him stand still more than a second for contemplation. There is this strong energy going between us; neither of us knows quite how to deal with it except that we have to acknowledge it. I go to get the camera and when I come out from my room with it he is just taking off his shirt for the third time since he came. He is on his way to the bathroom to check out the dragon again, but at the sight of the camera he jumps, exactly as when I wanted to massage his feet – no way! “I don’t want anybody to know how I look!” It makes me feel that the view of him is very precious, and he sure is a beautiful kid, like one of these roses that have been nipped a bit by the frost in the edge of the outer petals while they are still buds.
I guess what I should do now is meditate a little upon these events, not so much in their astrological pattern as in their duality. One year ago both my love and my emotions were tuned in to Reg; today we fight over a trifle. Even though we have never been lovers, I feel with him somewhat like these wives who suddenly, after a long ‘happy’ marriage, cannot bear the sight of their husbands, who are completely unconscious of their bad manners. By bad manners I mean selfishness. But the best object of meditation must be my own selfishness, which is pretty obvious.
Joey isn’t too happy, he is drinking too much and just had his mouth smashed in a fight and he is ready to pull away from his girlfriend. This comes out very quiet and clear, but then he covers up. There is something so sad about it and I am confused as to what I can do to help him and to enlighten myself or vice versa.

Joey, drawn from a photo that I obtained.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


The present was enough, though my work in the cemetery told me every day what happens when you let an unsatisfactory present go on too long: it becomes your entire history.
Louise Erdrich, 'Demolition' in the New Yorker, Jan. 1, 2007.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


From my diary, June 1987:

Hans came with his son Adam whom I had not seen since he was five – now he is nineteen. I could hardly believe it was the same person. As a small boy he was dense and chubby, very strong-willed and sometimes quite wild. Now he is tall and bony, polite and reasonable.
We had one memory in common: one day in the house in Älmeboda he was overly excited and I took him in my lap and held him very tight, and I told him: “When you relax completely I will let you go.” As soon as I loosened my grip on him he tried to get away and I held tight again.
It took a long time before I could let go of him without he tried to bolt, but in the end he relaxed and we sat for sometime peacefully together. His warm little body in my lap was pleasant – maybe even a bit exciting - and he must have liked it too, for even when I told him he was free to go, he didn’t go right away.
When I thought of him this was what came to mind and apparently it had also made a deep impression on his mind since this was the one thing he remembered, and he said it had been good for him.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

An Affair in Africa

The first time I went to sub-Saharan Africa, I attended a drum camp during the first month. It took place on the island of Roum, an hour’s ride from Conakry in a canoe-like boat with an outboard motor.
Roum is a small island with only one village and two beaches, one on each side of the island. It is like a little tropical paradise. When we arrived, there emerged, out of the waves next to the boat, an Apollonian apparition, an almost naked, shining bronze-god with a harpoon in his hand. This, I thought, must be what God had in mind when he created this world.

The first day in camp we had an orientation meeting with Abdoulaye Camara, the one dance teacher who spoke English. I was the only man in the group of nine American students, and Abdoulaye warned the girls that the young African drummers were very fast to become intimate and the girls should be ready to say no if they were not into it.
“Any questions?”
I asked: “What is the attitude to homosexuality in Africa?”
“That doesn’t exist,” said Abdoulaye with proud finality.
That, of course, gave some indication of the attitude.

The beach that turned towards the lagoon was very long and, at low tide, very wide and seemed to be always empty. I went there one of the first days with the two girls from the group that I had connected with, and their escorts, two young drummers. There was nobody else so I went skinny-dipping. A boy that I hadn’t noticed came swimming up to me and was obviously in a playful mood, and so was I. He was 15, I guess, and he was lean and muscular, as most people are in a country where you have to work hard to survive.
I love playing in the water and we lustily splashed each other; we were out where the water was chest-deep and he started coming up close, swimming around me and under me, sliding between my legs. I grew an instant, involuntary response and it was then demonstrated that African men are very fast! It lasted for a while, this surprising and enchanting encounter with a merman. When I had ‘enjoyed’, as the French say, he disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared.
My friends joked just enough to let me know that they had seen something go on, but not enough to embarrass me. Later I found out that the boy worked on one of the boats from Conakry; so his visits to Roum were irregular and infrequent. I met him one day on the path to the beach and I told him that I had a gift for him, a t-shirt, and we arranged how I could give it to him secretly.
I met him on and off and we managed also another tryst in the sea, hidden behind an anchored boat, and I left him some money by a mark on the empty beach and saw him pick it up without my friends noticing.
On two later visits to Guinea I met him again but it began to loose its charm. He was growing, and the romantic merman transformed into a young professional hustler.

We were living in tents, and I, being the only man, had a tent for myself. It stood under some trees next to the plaza in front of the school. This plaza was the place for parties and performances and New Years Eve there was blaring music and a dance in the schoolroom. There were couples and to one side mostly single men dancing. A young fisher, Ben, who was from Sierra Leone and spoke English, and who lived in the neighborhood of my tent, started dancing with me. The next dance another guy asked me to dance with him and I didn’t have the guts to say no, but when that was over I found my friend Ben again. He was a sexy dancer and he acted like a magnet on me.
Suddenly the music stopped, the lights went out and everybody went home – except me. I sat with Ben on a log in the dark. He asked me if I wanted a woman but I said: “I want you!” He took my hand and placed it in his crotch and I felt that he was hard. It went on for a while about a woman, one even turned up and was offered to me. We went into Ben’s house and his mate was there, but I repeated that it was him I wanted and finally he came with me to my tent. First he lay down on his stomach ready to be taken, but that was not what I wanted. I was amorous and I wanted to kiss him and revel in his beauty and he didn’t seem to mind. We had negotiated a price, a ridiculous low price, but handling money and talking about money is a normal thing in Africa.

From left: me, Ben's roommate and Ben
To keep an affair secret in Africa is a challenge. Your friends are your protectors and they like at all times to have check on where you are and with whom. I was not sure how they would react if they knew, and there was also a measure of excitement in keeping it secret. Of course a few village people knew but they were cool; I met Ben’s roommate on the path one day and as he passed me he winked and smiled knowingly. The tent was definitely not the place to make love, but Ben knew a hidden place in the jungle close by the village and here we met a couple of times before I left Roum.
Every time I was in Guinea I returned to Roum and the last year my visit fell on a full moon night. I met Ben and we managed to make a plan for the evening. I gave him a sign and left the village and he followed and met me on the path and took me down to the rocks by the sea. There we spread all our clothes on a warm flat rock and everything was so perfect, the lonely place by the moonlit ocean and my beautiful lover. Most often it had been pitch dark when we were together, so it was a treat to enjoy the sight of his flawless beauty.
That was our last meeting for I have not been back to Guinea, but it is still vivid in my mind.

The Lake

A sketch for the trigram Tui, the joyous or lake. 1968