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From the ashes to the sky

The moralistic and dualistic upbringing and many years of indoctrination in a church setting had a deep influence on my mind. I was taught (and let myself believe) that deep down I am unworthy and sin-full. Literally meaning that the deeper I dig and reflect, the more areas I would discover in me which are unworthy of being touched, that are dangerous and to be questioned and gotten rid of.  There was a lot of preaching of forgiveness and of healing but all this just intensified my self-rejection and fear.

A consequence of this was that I feared being alone. I was afraid of what “dark inner forces” may surface when I am alone and give room to silence. One of the most important (and scary) roads I took was to say a short four letter word to the inner moralistic voices clouding my mind and to start facing aloneness. I started giving space to silence, nothingness. I started to do listen more to my heart and soul and desires not letting my head run the show. I started to give space to all of me. To the reality of who I am and not so much the person I was taught I want to be. 

And then in accepting my brokenness, I discover beauty and hidden strengths. I discovered that yes there are sides in me I don't want to live out and give room to me but they must not be hidden. Even those sides have beauty and are worthy of being touched and acknowledged! 

 So many strengths I have were born in moments of rain and pain.

I remember many years of my life in which I feared really being alone. I thought that in aloneness some hidden truth of me might be revealed and this scared me.

Through my illness and travels I have had to learn to spend 4-5 months per year alone. Alone on beautiful beaches surrounded by lovers, family and beer drinking partying folks.   

I've been alone in shabby hotels in Madagascar, a hammock in Koh Samui, small airport hotel rooms in Heathrow, Finland, lodges in Namibia, dark hotels in Lesotho and stunning temples of luxury in Dubai and Thailand. But through all the nights, the meals, the twilight I am able to make choices of who I am and how my activities reflect my values and longings.

I have learnt not to fear my true self but to trust! My soul is trust-worthy and worthy to be loved. Deep in I am not a sinner as I was taught. I am a beloved man wanting to be loved and to love. I believe in an original blessing which overcame original sin. And in all this I learn to see others in the same light of compassion and care. 


The longest Journey

One of the longest journeys of my life has been (and continues to be) to learn to move my self-awareness from what we are thinking in our head to what we know, think and feel in my heart.

Consciousness is learning to accept the reality of mystery and everything. Learning to see with my inner eye which isn’t seeing things as I see them but as they are. But it’s actually more than seeing. Consciousness is about being seen. Knowing that we are known. 
To be fully conscious in it’s deepest consequence means accepting and loving everything. Loving the beauty and the dark. The pain and the pleasure. Loving the unknown and finding comfort in the known. 
I am far from living a conscious life. But I am on a journey to learn to go beyond thinking. Contemplation or quiet prayer helps move my awareness from my dualistic thinking and understanding to a deeper - heart level - of knowing. My longing to belong and to embrace life and then now is much stronger than my desire to understand. It’s not about one or the other - not about either understanding or belonging - but they go together. 
To love means to accept being seen, to fall into full consciousness. It's about fallng... to lose control. 
Contemplation is an alternative processing system. Attempting to “think without thinking”. To be and to be still. To let the connection with breath, the present, the moment, the source of life bring us into a level of being where our opinion, our experience doesn’t shape our being known. 



Pleasure this pain

 All of me. I exist, feel, touch, hope, fear, enjoy, desire. I am one being.

Every part of my reality is a part of me.

For many years I experience pleasure as “me” and pain as “it”. I referred to pain in the third person.
If I want to be care-full, be generous, be loving with myself then there is no way around learning to love my pains. The emotional despair, the brokenness, the fears, the physical pain and discomforts.


But pain is part of me. It’s an energy. One of discomfort, but it’s authentic, revealing truth and worthy of love because it is connected to life.

Pain warns, heals and informs.

I don’t love what causes pain but that is a different matter.

When I act unloving and hard towards pain I inflict more suffering. Numbing the pain often makes it all the more powerful when it re-awakes.

Touching pain gently, cautiously, respectfully opens a path to see the light in dark night of suffering.

Pain seems to be attached to pleasure. Sometimes the rope is long till one finds the pleasure in pain.

 Kwamie Liv sings so beautifully:

“Can you love me. Can you love me despite the cracks?

Oh-oh baby, this pleasure, this pain.

Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it hurts

pleasure this pain…” 

My journey of learning to love pain has led me to a deeper, far more intense experience and sensation of pleasure. Intimacy has a new meaning. I have experience moments of deep physical pleasure in the midst of intense pain. Both feelings being a part of my reality. Complimenting each other. Dancing together – sometimes against each other but leading all the more to a passionate dance.

The energy in pain can destroy, it can burn me up but it can also set a passion on fire. 

Dare to explore it together with a person you love and trust! 
It’s not an easy path but one of great mystery and depth that will change you in wonderful ways. 



For many years I looked at the dark sides of life as something threatening. I looked at pains as something different than me ... a kind of third party which intrudes in my life. But I have learnt (the hard way) that pain is as much part of me as is sensuality and lust. Pain is as much me as is passion and pleasure. In sexuality this shows in a powerful way. The boundries of pleasure, pain, orgasmic experiences blend when we let go and let our soul and body to melt together. 

This experience of acknowledging pain has brought me closer to truely loving myself. Obviously, I do not appreciate pain but I do love them. Because they show I am alive. Pain shows there is energy in me. There is life in me. I rather pleasure and work hard to find ways to transform pain into pleasure but I no longer "fight" pain. 


There is a deeper meaning for me to this. The pain in the world. The suffering I cause. The suffering I experience or observe. It is in a circle (Kreislauf) of beauty. I do not mean this in a cynical way and it never justifies suffering. 

Being mindful to beauty in the midst of pain has opened my heart and soul to new experiences. In persons who are mean and hateful I decide to look for something to love.

Again sexuality teaches us alot in this area. Few dare to let go and experience sexuality in it's more beautiful form - that is where the boundries of right and wrong, pain and pleasure, me and you are lost. Some of my most spiritual experiences have been in such moments. A tremendous gift I cannot explain in words that do it justice.


What I am getting at; Being whole has received a new meaning. All of me. Truely all needs and wants to be acknowledged, touched, loved, acepted and transformed.




Wounded but loved

(Foto: Laurence Moser)
“What a big boy your are!”. “Be strong!”. Such and many other messages are conveyed to babies, kids and sometimes even to grown-ups. Many of us have been raised to be strong, to be resilient and to be tough. Early on I tried to convey (I don’t know if I was successful…) messages of positiv affirmation and love to my kids. I don’t tell my grandson that he should be big and strong. I’d rather him to grow up to be loving and enduring! Aware of our weakness yet embracing the seeds of healing growing in the very pain that we wish to erradicate.  
St. Francis said he wore a patched robe because he wanted to appear to others exactly as he was on the inside—wounded and weak—as we all are if we are honest. He had faced his broken self and it was precisely there that he met the most unconditional of loves. (R. Rohr)

When I try to be strong, I see my pain and wounds as a hinderance or a deficit. But my wounds do not stop me from being more loving! One can be wounded and loved wounded and loving. My wounds (without enjoying or glorifying them) are an opportunity to embrace healing. 
Whilst it’s true that we are all dying, I desire to also embrace the process of eternal healing! 
It’s amazing what human connections occur when we act our of love and start seeing in others persons on a journey of healing. 
I had to go and have my hair shaved on Saturday as I was loosing more and more due to medication I am taking. The hairdresser was so sad when he realised why that he gave me a big discount and wrote me a get-well card. I felt very vulnerable as I walked out of the salon feeling naked but chose to be open about it - not to cover my head with a cap and to embrace my vulnerability. 




The more I see the cruelty, pain, injustice and suffering, the more I search for beauty, love, compassion and goodness.


Pushing limits

Those who push limits know that these sometimes push back. I have felt some of this push back in the past weeks running on reserve battery. But I am also aware that I'm not a victim of these set-back. Being alive implies that I'm ready to put a moment before the consequences this moment may have. Yes, that is risky and sometimes straightout silly but it allows me to live, to give it my all and to learn from reality rather than from the fear of action or inaction. 


A challenge I am currently accutely aware of is to build up and lightly hold courage and love to live today, knowing and facing tomorrow. My tendency is to take the courage to face the next bout of pain by functioning, being dutiful, being diligent. But more powerful is finding courage by allowing myself to love and be love and to connect with myself in such a way that it is respectful and enabling.

To explore this is my path I tenderly tread on. Falling and getting up, falling and getting up. 



A person in distress

I had a very saddening experince yesterday on my trip from Phnom Penh to Bangkok. Sitting next to me was a young Cambodian or Laotian girl. She had never flown and I realised she was very scared and nervous the moment we started taxiing. When the food tray came she had no idea how to eat the packaged snacks and foods. I helped her and when we landed I showed how to unbuckle the seatbelt. She then held my arm and looked terrified. I asked where she was going and she said she doesn't know. Then I saw a man two rows behind me observing me angrily. The young girl (I guess she wasn't older than 15years of age) kept looking at him. On the bus to the terminal she asked me to help her as she didn't know where to go. Her english was very poor but I am quite sure she was being traffiked on. She mentioned that she has to take a bus to Pattaya. At immigration I asked the officer to call the police. By the time they came and I had alerted her the man following the girl was through immigrations and had disappeard with the girl. It was difficult trying to persuade the Thai police what my suspicion was but they said they see this happen often. It has haunted me today thinking of the plight of this young girl and my heart and prayers go out to her and the millions of children and adults who are being held captive and are un-free! 



Not only healthy, but also

For 40 years I have been living with a genetic disorder which causes ongoing inflammations and leads to ongoing, constant pain. There are very very few days where the absence of pain breaks through the normal pain-full days. On these days it seems as if the air is more fresh, the colours more vivid and the days shorter. 

It has been years since I last wished to be only healthy because I am mostly very thankful for the life I may live. Of course not suffering pains would be awesome. But then I might not experience the peace and love I often do. What would I have been able to accomplish if I used less time and energy to manage pain? Would it have been something meaningful and loving? 

Roughly 10 years ago I decided to leave the church and religion. I have struggled, enjoyed, searched and sometimes - for short moments - re-found believe in a God who enters into our world. I found expressions of life (some may say, spirituality) which I can embrace. Not being part of a closed group and religious system has been most liberating. It’s lead me to re-discover, to embark on journeys with a less judgemental mind which is open to explore, accept and embrace. So much of my identity and beliefe in the church system was based on principles lf exclusion and inclusion. It was dualistic - what is right and wrong. I am continuing to learn to embrace the now and be more present. Breathing and being connected with creation and the created around me and with me makes me be more alert to their needs, their fears, their hopes and desires. 

My goal for the next months and years is to let go more and more of fix expectations in order to experience each day as gift. No matter whether this day brings pain and fear of tomorrow or whether I can move and breath without fearing the next stabbing pains.


About cows and goats

Those who know me are aware that I like people much more than animals (except if they are marinated and seasoned well...). 

This weekend two big religious festivities, Eid-ul Adha and Puja are celebrated in Bangladesh. There are more than a million and many more goats on the streets of Dhaka. 

Most families buy a animal. Religious leaders will cut the animals starting tomorrow Monday. The animal is shared in three equal parts. With their own family, a third is for relatives and a third is shared with the poor.

I had a facinating experience as I was invited to the home of a Bangla family and spoilt with 20 or so dishes for a mouthwatering dinner. The hospitality experienced touches me.

During the time here I was driven around by Narzra who is a devout Muslim. It was a privilege to experience his kindness, gentleness and albeit his skillful driving in the crazy traffic of Dhaka.



Back on the road

After long 6 months in Switzerland with one 2 short international trips I am back in Asia again. 

The past months in Switzerland have been a challenge on many levels, especially healthwise. However I did very much enjoy being together with my great family and friends. 


Last Monday and Tuesday I wrapped up a project and started a new mandate with a federal office in Switzerland by facilitating a two day retreat. From the smooth and sophisticated (and partially spoilt) world of federal workers I flew to Bangladesh to work in a slum close to Dhaka where our NGO is funding a maternity clinic. Tomorrow I go on to Dubai, then on Monday to Bangkok then to Phnom Penh. 

The culture differences of the work contexts I am in a huge and sometimes it's challenging to switch. But I am extremely thankful for my work and enjoy it!


Dhaka is fascinating and sometimes overwhelming with the sheer masses of people, scarcity of space and smells and sounds. As it's Eid ul-Aldh and the biggest hindi holiday there are thousands of cows ready to be slaughtered on the streets. 




Worthy lives - worthy persons

Today 500 person drowned when their boat was rammed by smugglers in the Mediterranean. What a tragedy. 

In the past weeks the number of persons who died in boat accidents enroute to Europe exceeded 700. It is heartbreakening that this ongoing tragedy is silently accepted. I could point at the media, polititians or somebody else. But I ask myself what my response is.

If three Swiss planes would crash in the perod of one or two weeks I would be more shaken, more distressed and more saddened by the loss of life and human suffering. But migrants crossing over illegally to Europe? 

This tragedy can be avoided. We can create safe crossing to Europe for refuggees. We could open registration offices on the african continent and cut off the dirty business of smugglers. But politically this in obviously not a valid approach. 

This is the heartbreaking truth. We don't care as much about the lives of persons who don't hav a swiss bank account or who aren't so called "talent". 



Back again

After a period of not posting I will continue posting thoughts, experiences, travel strories and fotos here. Comments and contributions are warmly welcome! 




I had a wonderful time in Thailand with my son in January. We travelled to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Chang and enjoyed work and relaxation together! What a privilege to have the opportunity of spending 3 weeks with the best son in the world :-)!


Back in Switzerland I'm working hard on a large project with a federal office coaching and consulting the 250 persons involved in a change project. So I'm commuting frequently to Zürich and back. At the same time we're starting new projects with up! international and Dynamic Share where I am strongly involved. 

Ruben Ung ( made some portraits and I'm very happy with the results! Thanks to you Ruben! 



Short update

January is a packed month with alot of work in with a client in Zürich and preperations for workshops and other activities in Asia. I am leaving for Thailand together with my son on Friday 17 Jan and will be back in Switzerland on Thursday 6 February. It's a great privilege and unique experience to be able to travel with my son on this trip! 

I look forward to interaction and communication with you. Please contact me via social media or my email or sms during my travelling period.  


In the between space

Being in the "in between space" is something which marks Mark's life. It's the place where words, categories, definitions fall short. 

It's the moment when somebody says "Oh, so you are sick..." and I respond "no I am healthy but have a physical illness which causes chronic pain".

It's the moment when sombody says "Are you on vacation here in Chiang Mai?" and I answer "well ... I'm doing remote work but I usually live in Switzerland where my family is...". And I see their puzzled look.

It's the moment when my third culture kid identity kicks in and I feel like a stranger in my home country. 

It's moments when I'm asked whether I am a believer, a christian, a spiritual person or which religious group I am affiliated with. 

The "in between space" has it's beauty as it allows me to be free. It allows me to define myself in the present. Moments come and go where I would rather fully belong, be part of a clearly defined group, culture and identity or gang ... But then I recognise that who I am is strongly shaped by this "in between". It gives me freedom to develop, explore, fail and stand up again.

And to quote the well-known expression: We are all just guests passing though...


The power of the underdog

I love the work and thoughts of Malcom Gladwell. His last book is on "The power of the underdog". 

When we look at battles between lopsided parties, we exaggerate the strength of the favorite and we underestimate the strength of the underdog.

Malcolm Gladwell believes underdogs win more often than we think because their limitations can force them to be creative.  David couldn’t slay Goliath with a sword, but with his sling he could be deadly from a distance. And Gladwell says, there’s plenty of modern research to explain why.

Check out this for more:


Knowing yourself

One of the most precious tools or gifts we have been endowed with is the ability to learn to reflect. True reflection is the path to wisdom. 

I went to the labyrinth at Seven Sisters in Chiang Mai this morning to do a meditative walk. The first minutes my mind is trying to understand where the various turns of the path. As I focus on my breathing and lower my head to look just at the next few meters of the path ahead my mind slows down as I can trust that I don't need to think about the direction. What a beautiful reality to just be able to walk and to be certain that I will reach the inner place - the rock. So often I miss the present because I'm thinking about the next thing, worrying if I'll find the way to my destination rather than just trusting the process. As I took one step at a time a butterfly criss-crossed and accompanied me reminding me that we are never alone. I become aware how often my opinion, fears, hopes stop me from loving, from being wise and letting go of the many things that hold me back. I recall a quote of Vikas Swarup:

Knowing the world is cleverness. Knowing yourself is wisdom.

Wisdom is attained by intuition, values and making choices and learning from them. I wish you all a good start into the new week. Focus on the moment and less on the direction and future - it will be ok. 







pushing back the expiry date...

On days like this when I come from a cold climate to the warmth of Dubai or another place I feel like I am pushing back the expiry date of my body significantly. My body works differently, tissue and muscles relax and pain decreases and I can breath better again. 


As I sit at Dubai fountain smoking my shisha (which admittedly doesn't help to push back the expiry date :) I ponder what else I can do to live more healthy and happily. I ask my taxi driver from Swat valley in Pakistan what he does to stay increase the quality of his life as he drives 12 hours, 7 days per week  for 24 months before having a month vacation to go back to his family. His answer is that it makes him thankful that he can provide financially for his extended family of 13 people. He says that staying calm and thankful is what he focuses on most as he does his work. 


Perhaps you know the quote:

One does not get what one deserves but what one negotiates.


Our sole most important negotiation partner is our ego and our soul who have to battle out who wins over the big and small battles, deals and negoations in our life. 



A new mind for new things

I have often been called a liberal. Those who use this term to label me often don't agree to some belief, practice or thought I have expressed. Usually it's when they think they know my "thought" or "position" on some more or less significant issue in life. 


I love what Richard Rohr says about these labels:  

As many have said in varying ways, you can (1) Do the old thing with the old mind (“conservatives”), (2) Do a new thing with the old mind (“liberals”), or (3) Do a new thing with a new mind. Only the third way deserves to be called authentic religion. The other two stances often avoid the necessary dying to self which is called transformation. The new mind could be called the contemplative mind. The new thing is always love—at ever-deeper levels. 


One of the things I focus on in life is not to judge people. And if I must or can't stop myself from doing so (which is very often the case unfortunately), then I remind myself to judge people not based on their thoughts but on their practices and actions in life. 


I train myself to embrace a contemplative heart, mind and soul and to have a less dualistic mind. I will probably be doing this training for many years to come at  the pace I'm going :-).  I want to learn to see more nuanced than the black and white, deeper than organised and to see into the mystical and mysteriöus. I want to have less opinions and be more loving and generous.