A Zen Buddhist Priest Voices the Deep Matters he Usually Ponders in Silence

Directed by Chris Santiago; Produced by Daryl Hefti – Born into a wealthy Austrian family, the life of Vanja Palmers changed course dramatically in 1972 after a psychedelic experience. Abandoning his plan to enter the business world, he became a Zen Buddhist priest and founded a silent meditation retreat, first in Austria, then in Switzerland. Chris Santiago’s short documentary Stille finds Palmers in his 70s and still embracing a life centered on Zen practice. As the camera follows him on his meditation rituals and on a hike through the Swiss mountains, Palmers gives voice to his philosophy of non-attachment and his understanding that life is a precious, if fleeting, opportunity. ‘It is a great consolation that things are not eternal,’ he says, leaving viewers with the somewhat confronting message that if humans continue on our current trajectory of growth, consumption and harm to fellow creatures, we’ll soon disappear – and for the better.

Watch the video here for English subtitles. They are available by clicking the CC button at the bottom right of the video player.)