Tibetan culture inspires U professor

Liz Kohman

Miriam Cameron has interviewed many people with different beliefs, ideas and cultural backgrounds for her research, but she has discovered a few values all humans have in common.

“All of them wanted to be happy,” Cameron said. “All of them wanted to live with meaning and integrity.”

As a faculty member in the University’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, Cameron uses this insight to complete research, write and teach classes in bioethics.

“Mim brings to the center a wealth of knowledge in ethics and spirituality,” said Mary Jo Kreitzer, the director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Cameron is a registered nurse with a doctorate in nursing with a focus on bioethics. She has also earned a master’s degree in philosophy and bioethics.

In her latest book, “Karma and Happiness: A Tibetan Odyssey in Ethics, Spirituality and Healing” -published this fall – Cameron explores Tibetan beliefs and how they can be used to help people live happier lives. The book also includes a foreword by the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan concept of Karma can allow people to live a happier life, said Cameron, because it teaches people they are accountable for their decisions and can choose to make positive decisions based on good intentions.

“If we want to be happy, we must make decisions that lead to happiness for other people and ourselves,” Cameron said. “By making good choices, we are more likely to be happy than if we make poor ones.”

Cameron said good choices can be made by gaining knowledge and using good intentions.

“I am here to help and not hurt,” she said. “That goes into every aspect of my life.”

Marjorie Schaffer, a professor at Bethel College who has worked with Cameron on research projects since 1988, said Cameron follows her own advice concerning ethics.

“She lives out the wisdom she talks about in her dealings with people,” Schaffer said.

Cameron said Tibetan values could also help the chronically ill deal with dying.

As a nurse working with dying children, Cameron had seen how hard death can be on the chronically ill and their families.

She also witnessed a family member’s painful struggle with death and decided she didn’t want people to struggle.

“I thought, we really need to have better ways of dealing with helping people who are dying,” she said.

Cameron has focused her research on ethical decision-making and the end of life. She is hoping to use what she learned during her travels through Tibet to help people struggling with death.

“Death doesn’t need to be a frightening experience,” Cameron said. “Death can actually be a joyful time.”

She has submitted a grant
proposal to the National Institutes of Health to research ways of improving end of life care.

The research findings will be compiled into pamphlets and a book to help families deal with death, Cameron said.

Cameron has also written two other books, “Hello, I’m God, and I’m Here to Help You” and “Living with AIDS: Experiencing Ethical Problems.” Both are based on her research interests.

Bioethics research focuses mainly on academic issues, said Cameron, which is why she likes to focus on the personal relationships involved with bioethics.

“I hope the book encourages us to understand each other’s’s values so we can work together to heal the world and ourselves,” Cameron said.

The book is available through Fairview Press. Cameron is donating 20 percent of her royalties from the book to the Traditional Tibetan Medical Institute in Dharamsala, India.

 

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected]