For some reason, the snowflakes were long today and looked like cragged mountains and spikey castles.
The Berry Feast (for Gary Snyder)
let us meet again
in this secret world
that our minds will never know
we can open the windows
and let silence in,
bird calls and wind in the grass
let us align ourselves with this
it has been patiently waiting
while we were dreaming
the autumn wind caresses the lake,
making little ripples of tenderness
birds swoop down, shouting with joy,
reeds and trees are swaying
wind, lake, birds, reeds
are all in love with you
and dance to remind you
to drop your imaginary baggage
and end your imaginary travels!
you have been home all the time
please be here with us
and dance with us again!
a dark pond in the woods –
over the years I’ve found out how to
still its ripples until
I can see the moon’s reflection:
by not doing anything.
Today I find myself
about to jump right in,
knowing I will dissolve
in the depth
where all knowing ends
tonight I dreamed
I was in love with a beautiful lion.
I knew I should be very afraid
but I decided to trust.
We lied in the dark and held each other very close.
In the morning she ran and turned
into a beautiful and dangerous creature again
jump into the endless glistening blue
sink beyond the multitudes of sunlit
movements and colors and forms.
In an ordinary ocean you’d now disappear
in a cold dark mostly lifeless abyss,
But in this kind of depth,
the deeper you sink, the more wonderful it gets –
it will be beyond your wildest dreams,
because this abyss is lit up by
something brighter than all suns
step aside and become quiet,
let this cat’s purr fill the universe
like each of these dew drops mirrors all creation
afterwards, you are free to resume your dream of self.
you are sitting in God’s lap and all is well,
even if you walk away from it,
but then it might be difficult to notice
Turquoise Coast 4: in Black and White
Turquoise Coast 3: A Taste of the Orient
We also went to several cities during our Provence/Cote d’Azur vacation: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, and Toulon. We actually went to Marseille twice because there was so much to see and do! Here are some of the things we saw … (and we came back in 2016 to see that the whole harbour area had been renovated and is now shiny and beautiful!)
Some of the architectural details … parts of them still very beautiful, other parts … I guess they were meant to be beautiful …
Finally, we sat down for a tasty mezze dish containing tabouleh and other treats …
The Game is a very serious thing …
Soaps are a big thing in the Provence … at least in tourist shops …
Taking a short break from the hot day in a cool church, with two women practising on a beautiful organ …
Various coffee places …
We found the oriental culture especially fascinating … the shops offer an overwhelming variety of oriental food … food and more. So many things I did not know! I thought I could spend weeks here, finding out about all these mysterious things in detail …
Toulon contains a military harbour … who would have thought that (at least on the advertisements) French torpedoes are dispatched by good looking young women wearing civilian clothes …
This ad promotes „shopping attitude“ – yes, I’m sure even the inhabitants of these ugly buildings are more than happy to bring all their money into the expensive clothes shops …
Turquoise Coast 1: Walking in Beauty
We spent a week or two in Bandol, a coast town at the Cote d’Azur east of Marseille. We took walks along the beautiful coast and in the countryside. Of course, lying on beaches, swimming, and coffees were also part of the program. (We also visited the cities – this will be another entry.)
Three days after we came back, my mother Charlotte died. This beautiful little sand building on one of Bandol’s beaches was signed and probably built by another Charlotte:
I love Crème de Marrons – something you don’t get often in Germany.
a French beauty on the beach … but wait, isn’t this …
The coastline is breathtaking!
Why haven’t I been to France for so long? maybe because my knowledge of the French language is more or less limited to „café au lait“. But we found that being here is not difficult even if you don’t speak any French. Looking forward to the next time!
A Moon to Hug
depths of feelings,
a joy, a lightness, unfathomed landscapes,
a deciphering of messages,
maybe disappointment, sadness, hopes,
but what is really here?
some depth of an unknown quality, no doubt
plus some movie,
and if the movie doesn’t work, another movie
and a wondering – if the movies stop, what is here?
do we really need movies?
what if the movie that we love so much
is actually a prison? each movie another prison?
„what? I can’t let go of this,
without the movie life is cold and bleak,
disappointing, boring, a dark hole“
but is this true?
what if all of this is allowed to stop
and the wind blows right through?
Stepping out of the forest, long shadows
far horizon, clean and open sky
looking up into nothingness for no reason
finding my heart leap with joy,
at this unexpected sight. The moon!
An explosion of love. Oh to be able to jump high and hug it!
The moon and my heart are suddenly one,
and then the depth and the love spreads
and is suddenly everywhere,
the trees, the wind, the little blades of grass.
Outside of movies, everything is simple and infinitely deep
and true, and so real, so real.
In The Air Tonight
and then, after the first warm day with naked feet
and purring cats and coffees
beside the little pond inhabited by
toads madly in love,
it suddenly feels too cold to stay outside.
sun sets behind the hill, nightfall,
first bat flies through the empty dark blue
under a beautiful conjunction of
Venus and Jupiter, worlds
whirling out there in the eternal night
Scent of Mud
The ice cold wind bites. The mud is deep and soft
as I walk uphill.
Did I hear that familiar sound? Looking around in the vast
grey cloudscape, I finally find the V formation up high,
and while I watch, they suddenly start to loosen the form,
circling for a while.
I pass by my favorite oak, ears hurting from the cold wind
while thinking of the forest of sequoias inside my soul,
huge ancient beings, soft-barked,
holding and protecting me in difficult times
while I curl up underneath them.
The image vanishes, I look up again
the formation has disappeared somewhere in the vast grey.
Minutes later, more calls from above
and I find, looking around, more and more formations,
flying with the strong wind towards their
northern homes. Why does this sound speak to me
Later, back in car
drive home, heating up.
Mud underneath hiking shoes
slowly heats up. The scent of soil.
A Forgotten Place
On this ice cold February day, I found myself alone on a remote hill near Berlichingen (a small Southern German town), visiting an old Jewish cemetery while taking a walk. I had been here before some years ago and wanted to feel that atmosphere again.
The cemetery (used from the 17th century until the early 20th century) has a very special feel to it, something very old and forgotten (although it certainly isn’t – the cemetery is simply no longer used because there aren’t many jews living in Germany nowadays, for reasons that I don’t have to explain). I walked around on the dry leaves and except for that sound, it was utterly quiet.
I certainly didn’t have any morbid or even eerie feelings, it was rather peaceful here. There were actually just trees and stones here; the distant history of many lives existed only in thoughts. But there was something here that I can’t quite put into words.
In the far corner of the cemetery, this stone said, ‚in this area tender children lie‘. I was happy that there weren’t any Nazi victims lying here, that would really have been creepy. The last funeral was 1932. All the jews buried on this cemetery were respected citizens living in times when this madness hadn’t begun yet.
I eventually had to leave as the sun was setting and it was getting really cold. The light rays were almost horizontal, lighting up the beautiful lichen patterns on the stones.
Happy Duck Day at Kilometer 691
Locus Amoenus II
Her birthday, a day off together, the sun was shining and it was very warm for an end-October day. We went to see an unusual little
chapel on a field somewhere west of Cologne. It was designed and built by Swiss star architect Zumthor for a family of farmers who felt grateful for a long and good life, and wanted to build a chapel.
We were not the only visitors on this wonderful day. We would have loved to have this very unusual place for us alone for a while, but so did the others. Maybe I’ll eventually come back here on a grey day outside the school holiday period.
The building is shaped like a tent, originally built out of 112 spruce trunks with layers of concrete on top. When it was finished, a drying fire burnt inside for three weeks. The trunks dried off the concrete and could be taken out. The walls on the inside, under the open roof, still show the shapes of the trees.
Lots of glass tubes connect the dark interior to the outside, creating dots of light in the walls. Sitting on the tiny bench beside the candles, it was totally quiet. The place has a very special atmosphere, but I found that I felt much more in a meditative mood outside, on top of the open field near the chapel. Somehow it seems to be slighly unsettling to me to sit in a dark little room with no way to see if any other people are approaching. Some part of me feels safer alone on a hill where I can see in all directions.
For some reason, there was an invasion of ladybugs, flying around and sitting on the concrete of the chapel, hundreds of them.
We walked through a village nearby that turned out to be less interesting than we had hoped, but at least they had very good cake on offer.
In the evening, some shopping and dinner in Cologne. We saw the first signs of Christmas approaching, but also of the carnival season that officially starts on November 11. A big thing in Cologne, even more important than the puppets of the classical Hänneschen theater.
A stroll down the Rhine. We were too tired already to take a closer look at the amusement park on the other side. A nice day out!
Full of Love
Another week with 100+ people in this place that I’ve written about several times before. We had a full schedule and very little time but I managed to take a few walks, some of them in the late evening, walking with a moon shadow. I don’t know if these photos manage to give an impression of the incredible beauty of this place. Especially the sunny September days are breathtakingly beautiful here.
The teachings and exercises were about topics that I won’t try to describe here in detail, but some of it had to do with the source of intelligence, as described in Almaas’s book about „Brilliancy“. And connected to that, complex stuff such as the oedipal complex and how it influenced our capacity to feel and express passionate love, or our tendency to sublimate this love into ways that were less difficult in the contact to our parents. Many participants, including myself, had very moving experiences of deep love. Amazing what capacities are waiting to be uncovered in us.
And no, even if these retreats take place in a Christian monastery, this stuff doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity 🙂
While New York, just shaken by an unusual earthquake, prepares for a severe tropical storm, we’re having much more harmless weather conditions here, but unusual as well: today we had a hailstorm, something rare for this area.
While I took some photographs, hail jumped through the open terrace door, some of the ice balls made it all the way to the other end of the house.
Our water lilies got perforated …
Several loads of torrential rain followed in the hours after the hail. And we discovered that the skylights in Sabine’s room aren’t completely tight – one of them above her bed. The mattress was partly wet. We had to drag it in front of the heating, hoping it will dry soon. Adventure!
Nuraghe Island 2: Fish Out Of Water
The name of the place was Bosa, the river was called Temo. I have never seen a river that was so full of fish – large ones, tiny ones, everywhere you looked there were fish, and in the evening, the surface of the river was criss-crossed by fish that swam around with their heads out of the water. They didn’t tell me why they did that (I spent two hours at the riverside with a hydrophone and headphones – the results were disappointing: the fish of Bosa don’t talk).
The old town of Bosa, beneath a large castle ruin, is a maze of picturesque cobblestoned paths and colorful little houses. The view from the castle over the beautiful wide valley is definitely worth climbing up there.
In the evening, we found a real good restaurant at the riverside, right opposite the decaying tannery buildings that were one of the sources of Bosa’s wealth many years ago.
The next day, on the way to the east, a visit to a medieval church, extramuros … a friendly dog followed us for a while … red poppies and hissing crickets in the heat, and a last look back to Bosa.
This year seems unusual, weather-wise, too much sun for April-May, too little rain, and the plants grow and are flowering more than ever before, or so it seems. At the moment, our Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain) is pretty amazing and if there is a quiet moment, without wind, cars, or planes, you can hear that the whole tree hums with bumblebees. What a great natural sculpture!
Postscript: our wonderful Golden Rain tree eventually was killed by voles – apparently the roots were tasting too good, and I could pull the big plant out of the soil with one hand.
Walk The Dog
We took a long walk near Lindlar with my old friend Thomas and Chikai, his friendly Akita Inu dog, past the quarry where I had recorded a few midwife toads a while ago, and beyond it into a very beautiful open landscape of large fields and hills that I wasn’t familiar with although it is just half an hour away from here.
The sky was amazingly blue. Sabine couldn’t stop exclaiming how beautiful it was everywhere around. I had to agree.
What a beautiful walk. We came home happy and very hungry and ate lots of chocolate.
This looks like a Porsche covered in red, and fast asleep. It was parked near a house that we walked by during our walk. I thought you might like it too, so here it is.
When The Wind Quiets Down
when the wind quiets down
there is a vast stillness all around.
some very distant sounds
of a crow or a car –
tiny streaks on
an wide empty blue canvas
from the hilltop
far away horizons, timeless
mid-February sun begins
to warm up the world
stirring up fragrances of soil and grass
there is a promise
not only of spring
but also of something much larger
that my little brain can’t grasp
something too huge to take in
Solid Like Hematite
back at Kloster Schöntal with many old friends … each one a different color
deep in the west, a very thin moon
we’re very lucky to have a large moon like that
it stabilizes the earth rotation,
making regular seasons
and enabling life on earth
a walk under a very blue very wide empty sky
a sparkling sense of joy
little glowing dots seem to surround me
an exuberant lightness
the triangle of desire, self-rejection and hope
keeping us fixated in a prison.
it seems so human, so life-giving to have hope
„the life energy of it“
but then, no animal seems to need hope
and aren’t they the ones who are full of life energy?
the deep seated desire for love and acceptance
(we used to live in tribes without which survival was unlikely)
searching for it on the outside
getting some, losing it, never really safe
all the time unaware of the true love
until it comes to pick us up
sitting at the computer desk, waiting for the show to begin, chewing cardamom …
the conviction that I cannot do anything
the conviction that I have to do it all myself
how can both coexist?
I finally slept ok in the third night
to wake up at 6 out of a dream
in which I remembered myself as a young child
my own early childhood innocence and openness
was so moving that I had to cry.
images of old grown-ups in comparison
they were all distorted, grimacing, and sick of their lives,
sick of madness from having forgotten themselves for too long.
then that woman (not one that I know in real life)
she was like … the archetypal good mother
I embraced her and cried on her shoulder
moved by the beautiful memory of my own
long forgotten innocence,
and I woke up with this feeling. How strange
and completely unexpected
walking through the yard,
a friendly white cat comes to say hello
while the eternal flock of black birds
still circles the spires, shouting
as it will in a thousand years from now
spending much of the day taking care of
a dear friend who is in deep distress
did palpably consume some of my own energy.
I lie in bed after midnight with headphones
carried into sleep on the wings of an angelic lullaby
sung by another dear friend
coming from the toilet at 4am
the sky is full of bright large stars
reminding me of that painting
3 hours later, all is grey and wet from rain
and the birds sing early spring songs
still suffering from the previous day,
something becomes quiet.
What a luxury to be able to read a few Hafiz poems
before getting up.
It sets my mind back on track.
All is happening on its own.
And I know this. What a relief
later, the topic of hatred and the urge for revenge
the being cut off from all of this
(aggressive behaviour was forbidden, unthinkable
so there is something old and unresolved) –
I am unable to access this energy.
A major part of my unconscious seems to still be
mostly unresolved and packed away
while the sense for unicity and the nonconceptual
is already growing, all following its own plan,
bypassing this white spot on the map as it were
„you don’t need more experiences of unity“
i feel like a beginner
deficient and insecure. Why did I come here anyway?
„mindful work“ practice in this group can be anything
from needlework to cleaning up or gardening
to learning a choir piece
(I hear them down the hall, slowly getting there)
I sit alone in the hallway, mastering talk recordings.
The woman with the bell comes by and rings –
stop and be present …
resume work with the second bell signal
(it is so hard to stay present with computer work
at home almost impossible, it works better here)
and being present vs. being lost in the trance of thinking
can be heaven vs. hell – more than that
this goes way beyond what the mind can imagine
„dedicating this work to the awakening of all beings“
she feels stuck, without hope.
he asks her, is there anything you want to do?
she says, „yes there is.
I want to cry so loud that all the windows shatter at once“.
Yes! let us cry together, there are enough windows
for both of us to shatter. This energy
needs to be free.
early morning, the cathedral shrouded in mist
waking up after a good night’s sleep
my heart is still heavy
I can’t feel where this weight comes from
so often, this inner life is inexplicable
and so often, subject to change
on short notice
„stay with your experience“
rule of thumb
and always the wisest thing to do
an hour with a white-bearded man
looking at my heavy heart
doing various breathing exercises on the mattress
nothing spectacular or difficult,
but bright and light new rooms opened easily for a while,
rooms in myself that I had never entered before.
I want my body back.
I WANT MY BODY BACK!!!
when the convictions (saying I can’t do it) give way and dissipate
and the stories about deficiency and disconnection cease,
then I’m here, I’m at home, I lack nothing,
and something seems to reunite in love.
„fake it till you make it“ I have to remember this advice.
Find a way, do whatever works
until the voices stop and the joyous simplicity
(that was there all the time)
another walk together over the hill
to the sacred spring cave
sitting in the bright February sun, talking, looking at it
and then back to coffee over muddy paths
positions and perspectives
how much they shape what we think we are
what would happen if they were all absent?
my two partners in the triad I worked in,
they both came to feel like newborn babies
one of them looking at her own hands in amazement
moving her feet
feeling insecure and happy
another foggy morning
rows of large trees along the river
populated with mistletoes
their tops fading into grey
the question of existence itself
inquiring into the feeling of existence
(grey and solid – like hematite? hmm)
different flavors of presence
still or exuberant
coming and going
the great joy of discovering together
what being home means
my black desperation when I lost it
my deep joy of finding it again
„hold it both at the same time“
getting beyond that dualism.
Ok, I’ll try that –
spacious presence without thinking or knowing
simplicity and peace
all the different flavors of the transcendent
and there are many more.
I come back from the walk
hiking shoes full of mud underneath
„when we know presence, when we are in touch with, and feeling presence, we are in touch with being“
The White Spikes
This happens when it is very cold and foggy. No fun to take walks because the cold creeps into your coat, but then everything looks like a fairytale landscape, or like those strange infrared photos where the sky is black and trees are white. Everything is covered by tiny ice crystals. People who walk through this frozen fog eventually seem to get grey hair as even their hair gets covered by ice crystals.
I took a very short walk just near our house – enough ice covered tree beauty to find here.
Endless Blue Silence
Sunday after the birthday party, taking care of a slight hangover, cleaning up the house. I was lazy but Sabine convinced me that we should take a walk, and maybe not one of our short standard walks around the hill, but something a little more special. The weather was cold and sunny, spectacular compared to most of the rather grey January.
We drove to a village called Frangenberg, near Linde, a few miles from here, and took a round walk around the hills at Breidenbach and Spich, under a deep blue sky, with wonderful views. The end-of-January sun had already some power, and there was a hint of early spring.
We discovered an old stone cross, nothing unusual in this area, but this one (150 years old) had my name chiseled into it … hmmm …
Sometimes we stopped and listened … there was the hum of a very far away plane, surrounded by a silence that was deep and rich and stretched out far in all directions.
Back home we had cherry cake and coffee and then we put these images on my computer and looked at them and had half of the chocolate candy box that Vera and Michael had given to me yesterday … they were REALLY good