My joy arises from being allowed to serve our sublime Guru

A short update to inform those who are connected with us as I don’t want to leave anyone in the dark concerning our activities. While practice in the City Institute is being cut short and administerd by members of the community while following all the rules and regulations set by the Interior Ministry, the construction of our Retreat Institute is slowed down due to missing helping hands. I would like to mention that we now really request your much-needed kind help!

Personally, while learning to adjust to the long list of side effects of chemo, both the infusions at hospital, and the daily more than 30 additional pills, literally not having skipped a single side effect to their fullest extent so far, I wanted to share the following with you as some are suffering from the hardships of lockdown.

Palpung Europe Retreat InstituteOften was I told or I received the advice to relax or to take things easier from all the hardships, or similar, also by some Rinpoches. It is true, I do work a lot and always have worked a lot in my life and: “I am never bored.” But I never thought of my dharma work as hardships.

When I was sent to Austria by our Sublime Guru, there was nothing. I slept on people’s couches since the few people who had requested my Supreme Guru to send me to Austria to guide them on the path, all evaporized as soon as having recognized their responsibility coming with their quest. They were to provide room, food and medical care and that was way more they were prepared to offer.

In brief, there was nothing. Out of this situation, our activities arose. First in a one room apartment that served as both shrine room and my personal room, then in a temporary apartment and once that was no longer feasible, I looked for a permanent home and found the house in Purkersdorf, right outside of Vienna. The intention was to offer future disciples of the dharma – from the city and surroundings – a pure and spiritual dharma home, a dharma family, a sincere community, and make our glorious Guru’s outstanding lineage accessible to them.

During that time, I was quite often on TV and many documentaries were and are still being aired in the entire German speaking areas, back and forth, which helped with the bank. After I had offered all the information to our sublime Guru and having requested his blessing, I went to the bank to apply for a mortgage. I had absolutely nothing to offer them, the society’s account not even in the triple-digits, no personal account – and I still don’t have one – but filled to the rim with blessings did I receive our first loan of almost half a million Euros to acquire the house and be able to adapt it, as if as by an invisible hand.

The house was wrecked and had been empty for ten years so I granted it a lot of TLC and even more physical work and adapted it with my own hands although I had no crafts experience, whatsoever. Nevertheless, I had at all times been full of trust in our Loving Protector and simply taken on any challenge, planned the adaption, demolition, renovation, assigned only absolutely necessary companies for jobs completely strange to me, such as electric, gas, water and in the end, did most work myself, giving in to the creative process of becoming and execution. Everything, from planning, finances, legals – to demolition, re-erection, renovation, interior completion, to sewing brocades, thangkas, the shrine and statues that needed to be painted, ornamented and filled, besides all rituals, building of furniture, restoration of antiques while staying thruthful to the style of the house: I just acquired any skill needed and what I did not know, was instructed by my retreat master Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche; often from afar.

Disciples came and left, but no one wanted to really take on to it, actively supporting something worthwhile and help set it up so I simply did it myself. This has not changed to the current date.

Exactly five years later, I finally found the house and premises I had always been hoping and dreaming for, for our activities, after having sought it for ten years. Again, I contacted our beloved Guru and received both blessing and advise to acquire the estate. So again, I went to the bank and, again, was granted the new mortgage inspite of nothing but already existing debts with them. Now, the same scenario unfolded and took shape, just like the city with the difference that the house was many times bigger. Whilst the mansion in Purkersdorf stems from 1867, and which I furnished with an entire floor atop in 2016, doing the entire interior completion more or less by myself, for an own floor for our sacred Guru, the farm in its original shape is said to be originally from the 17th century but had been ongoingly extended. It consisted of two thirds dilapidated farming adjacent buildings, like stables and the like. In order to turn the house into what I already saw before my mind eye, entering the farm for the first time – just like in Purkersdorf that was similarily outgrown and in ruins and that I saw in full glory on my first visit before my eyes – I would have to apply for my so far fifth loan which superceded everything I had ever asked for. So again after having provided our sublime Guru with all facts and figures, I requested our Guru’s blessing and he told me to apply for the new loan. Most miraculously, it was granted, as yet again: so far I have been moving around three million Euros of which I still owe two millions, all out of nowhere.

Therefore, construction could start and so I planned the entire project in accordance with the requirements of a retreat institute of our lineage, assigned companies, supervised and monitored their work as well as finances and the legal work around it, and started with the physical work besides all translations of our Guru Vajradhara’s books and the translation of all sorts of liturgies, publishing them with our own publication project, established our social activities, besides many other activities. As mentioned already, my strength kept on disappearing and then came cancer.

Then, at the latest, the many well meant advise started to flock in, so much more than before, except from my exalted Guru who knows me better than I know myself. Before my first chemo he sent me a voice message, ensuring me that he and Gegenla and all monks prayed for me, exhorting me “to be strong”.

I never quite understood those well-meant suggestions from people because: what are hardships? What does it really mean to relax? To indulge in life and give in to inelegant nonchalence?

Commonly, one would assume this means to watch TV, sleep more (which most naturally I do these days because chemo forces your body into a dying process that I am familiar with from retreat when I almost died), go to the cinema, meet friends, hang out in coffee shops and similar, at least in pre or post pandemic times. But all of that means stress to me. I don’t feel joy in wasting my time with more or less futile activities. My joy arises from the permission to serve our glorious Guru, my relaxation from the materialisation of his vision, to be allowed to serve him and his glorious lineage. What might be hardships to others is my genuine joy, others’ enjoyment is my hardship, confinement as we are experiencing now during pandemic, is my honor. In brief, our Guru is just everything to me. My world arises from his care for all beings, my relaxation from his blessing. I relax in his overwhelming love.

Please do not worry about this composite body of mine. Exclusively care for your own relation with the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the purity of your vows and commitments, the diligent emulation in your practice!

May we never ever again fall prey to the futility of chasing our own tails and running in circles, rather counteract our neurotic patterns and exchange them for joyful love and respect for our exalted Guru incessantly; for he is the glorious embodiment of all Buddhas, the past, present and future ones, in order to become like him one day: Absolutely free, beyond socio-cultural blockages and walls behind which we so far successfully have been hiding out, narrowly chasing misleading concepts.

With prayers,

Chöje Lama Palmo

Photos, from top to bottom:

Retreat Institute, summer 2020
Lamala during chemo
Lamala by the pond, with one of our cats