Chöje Lama Palmo’s contribution to the festschrift

Chöje Lama Palmo was invited guest of honor and speaker to this event March 3, 2010 in the Palais Ferstl which was crowned with a charity in favor of Chöje Lama Palmo’s activities.

Following we are printing Chöje Lama Palmo’s written contribution to the evening’s festschrift. The event’s topic was ‘values’ and the various aspects of it were discussed and presented.

You may view photos of the event in our gallery.

“Life-values: foundation for personal happiness”

Values are structures, strategies and modes of conduct which proved to be worthwhile in the past. They are not just mere fixed constants within a society but a structure which evaluates upon the needs of individuals and groups of people. But not each and every value is worthwhile and valuable.

Values are subjective and are in the eye of the beholder. What might be valuable for one individual may be completely valueless for the next. Therefore, the value ‘life’ is subject to interpretation and view.

That means that in order to preserve a value as such or to get rid of it on the other hand, a basic constant is necessary. That is where ethics come into play.

Ethics are the ability of human beings to decide with the help and on basis of intelligence what is good or bad, righteous or unrighteous and to come forward with decisions on foundation of that ability.

Ethics and moral comportment which derives from them are one of the pillars of Buddhism. Not as rigid rules of regulation that need to be followed but as the insight that each and every of our actions will bear a certain result which in fact causes our own wellbeing and state of being. We may therefore say that ethic conduct serves as self-protection: the protection of all the experiences of unpleasant situations, the protection of the experience of the total opposite of what we actually are looking for: happiness and contentment.

Ethics proved to be worthwhile throughout human history. If we engage in ethic responsible activities people, societies and countries can live and function in harmony and peace drawing further circles that might reach individuals from all over the world. Therefore we are in need of attentiveness and awareness, another Buddhist pillar, in order to act and decide ethically and responsibly for all.  Ethics and moral ethical comportment should hence develop into our basic outlook and our doing should be characterized by respect for the world that we are living in.

If we read the news we are mainly confronted with our own past actions: environmental catastrophies, world market retracements and the like are the direct result of what we sowed in the past. If markets are pushed artificially or whole landscapes flooded, it is foreseeable that figures will go back and nature will suffer imbalance.

Quite evident that neither ethical nor attentive and definitely no responsible decisions were made in the past. That should enable us to learn!I am rather sure that the so-called ‘search for meaning in one’s life’ captures each and everyone of us sooner or later, strongly demanding replies. ‘Who am I, what is the meaning in my and of my life’ and the like are parameters overtaking us human beings, endowed with intelligence. If we understand that we are merely part of a whole which only functions if all of us take responsibility for their part then the very rigid and narrow view of ‘I’ will dissolve in favor of ‘all’. Out of all of the previously said another life value arises: responsibility.

Responsibility is the understanding that everything is in flow, nothing stands still and that everyone is contributing significantly towards the functioning of the whole. On basis of the understanding of ethical comportment and evaluation, actions can derive which will not only greatly influence the decider but their surroundings as well. Responsibility means to be aware of the consequences of one’s own actions and be omnipresently aware of them.

All of the previously said is copmprehensible, logical and actually not in need of further explanations and evaluations.  All of the considerations are basic contemplations that Buddhism has beginners think about as philospohical view in order to gain the foundation for religion. Consequently the question ‘why, child could you have not remained in your profession and be successful just like everyone else’ goes without being said: understanding and recognizing the already elucidated fundamental life values of personal ethics leading to responsibility, practiced with awareness I could at one point in my life no longer run away of myself and entered the path as a direct consequence to all my thoughts, views, convictions, preferences and ideas that had accompanied me from childhood up to adulthood.

Of course, I do not want to convert you to Buddhism as that is far from the Lamas (or vaguely translated Buddhist priests), nor do I want to make you monks and nuns. On the contrary: I would like to open up a wholesome view to all of us which actually has been present in us already for a long time but as you will committ is either still dozing or already functioning but too often on the fall in favor of short term, egotistical decisions. Ethics, moral comportment, responsibility and awareness are most probably like our ‘alter ego’ – a voice within which knows so well what to do.

I wish all of us more courage, strength and the resulting actions for the benefit of all.

Chöje Lama Palmo