Wednesday, October 31, 2007


My mother, Agnes, was the fifth of seven children, and early on I knew by rote their names: Inger, Eva, Anne Marie, Ellen, Agnes, Vilhelm, and Gudrun. Six girls and a boy.
My aunt Inger was the oldest and not as bright as the rest of the siblings. The story went that she had fallen off a swing and hurt her head when she was little. There was a degree of snobbery in the family; lack of intelligence, or just lack of higher education, was looked down upon, and there had to be an explanation for her not being up to the family standard.

The five oldest girls with Inger at the right, my mother at the left
In my home a lot of the social life was centered on Contract Bridge, the cardgame that rivals chess in complexity, and which was played with gusto. Inger liked very much to play, but it was annoying for the others when she stumbled through the game and brought her team down, so it was always a sacrifice to include her. My cousins and I didn’t much like her; maybe we were cruel in our self-centeredness, but we picked up on the grown-up’s attitude.
Inger also had a particular little cover-up laugh she laughed when everybody else was laughing and she had not understood. She was thrifty, not to say stingy, with small amounts. I remember her coming into the dining room with a plate in her hand, saying: “The liverpaste is still good, I have scraped the mold off.” That, of course, became part of the family lore. It happened in a summer cottage she had built in Arild, our favorite summer spot at Kullen in Sweden. Now we stayed with her instead of renting, for the family feeling was a strong undercurrent beneath the sometimes-choppy waves.
When I came out, I didn’t come out to Inger, but told her only about giving up my job as engineer and wanting to study with an art teacher and paint. She asked to have a talk with me and begged me to promise that if I hadn’t “succeeded” in a year’s time I would return to engineering. I was very insecure, but, without trying to hide my uncertainties, I made her see that such a promise was impossible and absurd.

For many years I didn’t see aunt Inger that often, for I lived far from her and traveled a lot. Several times she helped me out and she never withdrew her love or judged my life. When it came to true generosity, she had a big heart. As I was the only one in the family who didn’t have a secure and well-paid job, she wanted to let me inherit her whole estate, but my uncle, who invested her capital for her, talked her into establishing instead a trust fund, the interest of which I could receive as long as I lived. The others agreed to wait with their inheritance until my death. That was a good solution for me; I still have this welcome addition to my income. If I had inherited the capital it would have evaporated long ago.She was the only one of the six sisters who didn’t suffer from depressions or other mental illness, until, in her last years, before she died at the age of 92, senility clouded her mind. When I came back from two years in France and said I would go and see her, I was told: “It isn’t worthwhile, she will not recognize you”.
“Well I’ll go and see her anyway,” I said.
She was in bed and I could see that she was close to death.
I took her hand and she asked: “Who is it?”
“Åge,” I said.
“A nephew of mine?” she said, and I kept her hand in mine and sat with her for a while. I allerted the family and she died two days later.

Funny, I shaved once in my sixties after having had a beard for many years. Whose face should look out at me from the mirror but my aunt Inger’s! It was disconcerting - though I had come to appreciate her after I grew up and when her age fused her shortcomings with the natural frailties of old age. How many hours of Scrabble have I passed with her, leading to uncountable victories for me!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Reincarnation is very simple; it’s mental energy. Your physical energy is exhausted at the time of death and the energy of your consciousness separates from your body and goes into another form, that’s all. That’s the simple explanation. Mental energy and physical energy are different. Modern science has some difficulty with this. They do explain some difference between mental and physical energy but Buddhism explains it more clearly.
(Lama Yeshe)

Question asked Khandro Rimpoche, a recognized reincarnation: Can you recall things of your past life?
Answer: It depends on what you would call remembering. When one talks about the previous incarnations one does not necessarily say that it is something like flashbacks. But it is definitely something that one can feel.

Think about these three possibilities:
After death there is nothing.
After death there is an eternity, either in heaven or in hell.
After death there is a revision of the life lived and a return to a new life.

Think about why people are born into such different circumstances.
Is it just that everything is meaningless coincidence?
Is it that God is cruel and without caring?
Is it that we are all bound to go through life’s possibilities according to our own actions?

For me there is no doubt about the answers.
Reincarnation is the only way to explain the difference in our lots, without giving up a belief in some kind of ‘divine’ justice. This justice manifests itself in the law ‘What-You-Sow-You-Shall-Reap’ and that makes us directly responsible for our own life, from its original circumstances to the way it develops.

According to the materialistic view all activity, bodily and mental, ceases at death. But since the material elements basically consist of energy and we don’t really know anything about the true nature of this energy; how can we know for sure - or deny for sure – anything that may be going on in the mysterious realm of pure energy?
We have enough reports of phenomena that cannot be explained, such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and instances of clairvoyance and telepathy, to make simple coincidence very unlikely.
The spiritual view postulates the supremacy and unity of Spirit. The difference between this belief and the prevalent Western belief in God is that the Great Spirit inhabits everything and is not in any way separate from creation. This belief is more kin to animism, the most ancient belief of humankind.

Let us take a look at the cycle of life and death.
In the womb, between conception and birth, there is awareness but as yet no concept of life. Awareness is a quality of Spirit, and awareness contains memory.
Memory can be seen as being of three kinds that I will call: instinctive memory, immediate memory, and historical memory.
The instinctive memory is unconscious and it is necessary for survival in the world. It contains memory of skills and/or special phobias.
The immediate memory is the conscious memory of past events. This is what we normally call memory.
And finally the historical memory, which is special for humans, consists of the ‘stories’ that fixes the images of immediate memory into a fictitious past. It is also included in what we normally call memory. Because the historical memory is an individual transformation of the immediate memory, the same event is often remembered completely different by different people.

In early childhood, besides the instinctive memory, there may be shreds of immediate memory from last life. As the person grows older these memories fade away together with the memories of early childhood.
In the Tibetan tradition there is established a continuity between lives so that one can find the reincarnation of a specific person who has honed his awareness and thereby strengthened his memory. To be recognized he must choose, from among objects, those that were his in his former life.
The reincarnated is of course a different person with different genes derived from different parents and living in different circumstances; so what is it that he has brought with him from a former life, besides the fading memories?
He brings the honed awareness – like a light that dispells the darkness of ignorance, the source of all misery. He brings awareness with instinctive memory of skills that is perceived as giftedness or talent and makes it easy for him to relearn things.
Here we are talking about special individuals, but it’s the same for everybody; mental energy is indestructible in the same way as physical energy is. It can change form but there is a constant connection of causality and nothing is ever lost; so everybody is bringing with them baggage from former lives as fate decides. Cause and effect is like the glue that unifies the universe in the Spirit. In its subtlety it is what seems to be fate.
There is both determination and free will. When free will is in accord with the determined course, good luck ensues.

Death is the reverse of life; similar to the way sleep is the reverse of being awake. There are different stages and different states in death, just like there is in life, but they have a content that we can hardly imagine, except that it may be dreamlike sensations that we have no precise words to describe.
The first stage in death is the transition from life’s complex richness to the bare essence, the pure Spirit of one’s own being. According to tales of near death experiences this seems to begin in bliss, but soon one must confront truth. The mythical ‘judgment’ is the suffering or the joy that this confrontation will provoke, according to the life one has lived.
To go through this process there must be a structure connected to the awareness. This individual structure of awareness I call the Soul, and it is the mental energy that sustains, but is independent of, the physical energy.
The next stage then, is where the karmic repercussions of life have to be gone through. This could be ‘heaven’ or it could be ‘hell’, but in the end it will be exhausted and the wish for a new life will guide the Soul to seek reincarnation.
At conception we are thus transmitted from the unlimited mental realm of death into the bare essence of a one-celled organism. Conception, like death, is a paring down to the essence and there is bliss in both transitions, but it doesn’t last !

In all sentient beings the illusionary is coupled with the indestructible. If one can see through the illusion, only the indestructible is left.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Do you like the new colors ? I'm happy about the title banner - don't ask me how I got that metallic effect ! It came by itself; I used iphoto and changed the colors on and on, five or six times, and suddenly the colors began to mix and glint like metal.
I had to change the other colors to fit but that you probably will not notice.

I got an e-mail from Ellesa and Michael saying they had been reading the blog. "You are all over the place," they said, and I guess that's true. I like that !

Besides blogging I also make jam. Today I made apple-guave jam out of the last Red Delicious and the first small guavas. The guavas have an intense taste that give pizzas to the apple sauce. For dinner I made Danish pancakes = crèpes, and ate them with vintage rhubarb jam. And I mean vintage ! I've had this jar and a jar of green tomato jam since 1987. My friends urged me to throw them out, but before throwing them out I ventured a taste and they were both totally preserved and tasty.

It's getting late and I wish you a good night and a bright morning.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I couldn't decide on which blog to post this my latest drawing - so I put it on both !

Saturday, October 20, 2007


A word about Ngawang Chotak, whom I met in Nepal under the name of Chris in 1970.

Chotak recently went to a center in San Francisco that helps alcoholics and while he was there he lost consciousness. He was taken from the center to San Francisco General Hospital. The doctors found bleeding had occurred in his brain, like when a trauma to the head occurs. Further, he was put on a respirator, which means the doctors believed he was not able to breathe by himself.
Now he seems miraculously to be coming back from another brush with death. He can breathe by himself and communicate. His sister and his oldest son are with him and his younger son is on his way from Nepal.
Pray with Ngawang Chotak’s many students for his recovery!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


It has taken time to sort out the photos, but here we are at the entrance to Yokohama's China Town, at the bus station in Yokohama and with June in his house.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


This grafiti is inspired by the Music of Africa.
I'm listening to Baba Maal from Senegal.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I had a best friend in high school but after we graduated we had less and less contact. The last time I saw him was a Saturday night about four years after graduation, and that’s when I realized that we had nothing in common anymore. The atmosphere had been strained and the night boring and I left early around eleven o’clock.
On my way home, walking to the train station, a group of laughing partygoers called out to me and when I responded they invited me to a party that was going on in the house right behind them. That was just what I needed to dispel the gloom of a friendship extinct.
I started out with some stiff drinks and then I noticed that the girls danced together and the boys likewise. Even though this was three years before I came out, I suddenly had no doubt that I belonged. I was rather drunk and I spilled my heart, how I was in love with a straight boy. I got some sympathy and soon forgot my laments and joined the party, totally letting go of my inhibitions.
One guy eagerly pursued me, but he didn’t interest me; there was a boy that I had my eyes on. With him I danced and there was a strong current between us. After a while we sneaked off to find a hiding place where we could consume our passion, but we had hardly gotten started when my pursuer found us and joined in.
This was my first genuine homosexual experience and however exciting it had been in the moment, the next day found me in a very different mood. I felt soiled and debased, I had been drunk, I had had sex with two persons I didn’t know and I had lost my undies in the mess.
The straight boy I was in love with was staying with me for the summer while we were both doing a workshop in survey. We were together every day, but I couldn’t talk to him about it. In comparison to that messy night and my drunken lust, my love for him seemed pure - but was it? Not really! It is true that I was happy just being with him, being his best friend, but the undercurrent of physical attraction was never the less at the bottom of our connection. My relationship with him repeated my pattern of furtive approaches to pleasure. If we happened to be in the same bed, I rolled close in pretended sleep. He, of course, had his suspicions, but since I was not explicit, it went on for several years and never came to any kind of clarity.
When he found a girlfriend and began to prefer her company to mine, it spelled the end of our closeness.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

MY MOTHER - BORN OCT. 10, 1887

My mother always gave total support and she had a strong mind. As a young girl about nine or ten years old she had the sudden realization that religion was just old wives tales and since then she believed only in science. What science could not explain was better left alone. She became a chemical engineer and was working in chemical physics. In nineteen seventeen she was engaged to be married, but her fiancé died in the Spanish flu in 18. He left a teen-age son Jørgen and my mother was close to him and took care of him. When he became an officer in the army they drifted apart and in I my time they didn’t see each other often. He had married a woman who suffered from depressions. In the end she committed suicide by going away and taking an overdose of sleeping pills in a hidden place. My mother talked about this and I remember her having some admiration for a job well done, so to speak.
Jørgen shot himself when the Germans invaded Denmark. The government didn’t put upany resistance and his soldier’s honor was shamed.

After the death of mother’s fiancé she moved in with her elder sister, Eva, and they had great sisterly love for each other. Two independent women, young, free, educated, and spirited, living with a circle of friends in the liberal middle class.
They both had a couple of serious amorous affairs. I never could make my aunt Eva tell me about hers, but I knew about my mother’s.
She had an affair with her married boss, professor B. How many years it lasted I don’t know, but if it hadn’t already ended it was broken in the summer of 24 when she met my father and they fell in love and conceived a child.
My father was a painter with some succes in academic circles, married to a Polish artist who painted lyrical and genuine still-lifes with flowers. They had a daughter who was thirteen years older than I.
To be a single woman with child was not common in 1925. But my mother stood up for herself and she told family and friends how happy she was, and was generally accepted.

The birth was difficult and she had some complications, but they were soon healed, and that summer she often saw my father and I imagine they had a happy, romantic time. He promised her to get a divorce and to marry her, but I think they must have known that their happiness was fragile, for marriage was still a strong institution at that time.
When I was about a year old my father’s wife found a picture of me in his pocket and with her wife-power she made him promise never to se my mother or me again. He wrote to mother that he felt obligations towards his wife, whom he had brought to Denmark, and he thought my mother more able to be single.
I wonder what she felt, but it is my guess that she realized that life with my father might have been difficult and that living with Eva and having a child was in many ways ideal. I never felt that her life was not fulfilled, not until circumstances changed and her strength gave in.

She loved me totally and in spite of working 9 to 5 she gave me ample time. Every night we would sit by the lamp at one end of the sofa and she would read to me. She didn’t want to read things that she didn’t like herself. Of the early things she read I remember Hans Christian Andersen, Winnie the Pooh, Oliver Twist, Gulliver’s Travels and The Three Musketeers.
She was like a lioness if anybody threatened the apple of her eye, mama’s boy!
The time we were closest was when I was thirteen. That summer I traveled with mother and Eva to France where we visited with my former schoolmate. It was a fairytale trip for me, a new world opening up while I was still protected and taken care of. After that I began more and more to pass time with my peers, the war came, and decline set in.

Professor B had turned bitter and began to torment not only my mother but also his other assistant, who was easier to get to. My mother had reached menopause and the bitter unfriendliness at her workplace began to take its toll. She brought home a notebook where she had written down his harassments and she would often cry when telling about it. The assistant comitted suicide, and according to my mother it was he who drove her to it with his unpredictable rages when his unclear orders were misunderstood. Added to this was the gathering tension in Germany, the persecution of Jews, and also an estrangement from her old friend Holger. The cause of this was Holger’s wife, who could not accept her daughter’s marriage to a young teacher of proletarian roots. My mother gave shelter and help to the young couple, and as a result she was not invited to Holger’s 50th birthday. That was like a slap in the face. Years passed without communication and it was a thorn in my mother’s heart.

In 1940, three weeks before my 15th birthday the Germans invaded and occupied Denmark. My mother’s depression had completely taken over and incapacitated her. She was bedridden and every day when I came home from school I visited her and tried to cheer her up – a Sisyphus task!
She was scheduled to be hospitalized in a few days, when one day I found her bed empty.
“Your mother has gone to get her hair done”, said the new housekeeper, and so, when I later heard the front door I went to the top of the stairs to see mother. But it was Eva.
“I thought it was mother”, I said, and in that moment I read the truth in Eva’s face, and we both knew that there was no doubt; she had taken action and nothing could be done about it.

The impressions from the final years have always seemed to overshadow the feelings from happier times. There are images in my mind, of course, from these times, but I was still a child and her love was the very element in which I lived. With her sickness the communication turned into something more like a chore. You had to be careful what to say since everything could be the cause of new worries in her troubled mind.
It felt like a betrayal that I, who had always participated in every aspect of our family life, had been kept ignorant of the suicidal thoughts that mother had in fact expressed to Eva. She had preferred to leave, and even though I knew that she had done it in part because she knew she was a burden to us, I felt both bereaved and guilty.

Now our two lives span 120 years, and I still often think what she would have made of my life and times.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Thursday, October 04, 2007


YES! It is called a 'Fire Rainbow' - One of the rarest of all naturally occuring atmospheric phenomena. The picture was captured on the Idaho - Washington border, and the event was reported to have lasted about 1 hour.
Clouds have to be Cirrus, at least 20K feet in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals and the Sun has to hit the clouds at precisely an angle of 58 degrees.
(From Deejohnized)