Tuesday, June 29, 2004

LADAKH

I've been captivated by the book, "Ancient Futures", by helena Norgerg-Hodge. For the last twenty years she has spent half of every year in Ladakh, working with the Ladakhi people to protect their culture and environment from the effects of rapid modernization. Here are a couple of Potent Quotes from the book that help us see ourselves more clearly:

"What distinguishes Western culture is that it has grown so widespread and so powerful that it has lost a perspective on itself: there is no 'other' with which to compare itself. It is assumed that everyone either is like us or wants to be."

"We do not distinguish between evolution and the changes wrought by the scientific evolution, forgetting that while Europe was transformed by industrialization, the majority of the world continued to live according to other principles and values. In so doing, we are effectively saying that Westerners are more highly evolved than traditional peoples."

I ran into beautiful healer Stewart Yeh at a Christmas party at Paul Budnitz's flat in New York last year and was delighted to find out that he had lived and worked on a farm in Ladakh. The culture there, he said, is probably the most unchanged traditional culture in the world; and, perhaps the most happy and satisfying lifestyle he has ever experienced.

You can't be a tourist in Ladakhi, you may work for your room and board at area farms 'tho, which is what Stewart did...massaged and healed the whole village probably.

In Peter Matthiessen's introduction to the book, he says, "The celebration here of traditional Ladakhi life induces exhilaration but also sadness, as if some half-rembembered paradise known in an other life had now been lost. So evocative is it that I felt - I'm not sure what - homesickness?"

If you read the book, you bring a little Ladakh right there to you. And, maybe some of the area's values will trickle into your life.