ANCIENT FUTURES HELENA NORBERG-HODGE Ancient Futures raises important questions about the whole notion of progress, and explores the root causes of the malaise of industrial society. At the same time, the story of Ladakh serves as a source of inspiration for our own future. Ladakh, or ‘Little Tibet’ is a place of few resources and an extreme climate. Yet, for more than a thousand years, it hasbeen home to a thriving culture. Traditions of frugality and co-operation, coupled with an intimate and location-specific knowledge of the environment, enabled the Ladakhis not only to survive, but to prosper. Then came ‘modernization’, ostensibly a means to ‘progress’ and ‘real’ prosperity. Now in the modem sector one finds pollution and divisiveness, intolerance and greed. Centuries of ecologicalbalance and social harmony are under threat from the pressures of Western consumerism. ‘A sensitive, thought-provoking account.’ New York Review of Books ‘Everyone who cares about the future of this planet, about their children’s future, and about the deterioration in the quality of our own society, should read this book,’ The Guardian Helena Norberg-Hodge, a linguist by training, was the firstWesterner in modern times to master the Ladakhi language. For the last seventeen 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. For this work, Norberg-Hodge was awarded the 1986 Right to Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. She is currently Director of theLadakh Project, which she founded in 1978 and its parent organization, the International Society for Ecology and Culture. This edition is for sale only in India. Nepal, Bangladesh. Burma and Sri Lanka
Foreword by H. H. The Dalai Lama Helena Norberg-Hodge has long been a friend of Ladakh and its people. In this book she expresses her deep appreciation for the traditional Ladakhi way of life, aswell as some concern for its future. Like Tibet and the rest of the Himalayan region, Ladakh lived a self-contained existence, largely undisturbed for centuries. Despite the rigorous climate and the harsh environment, the people are by and large happy and contented. This is no doubt due partly to the frugality that comes of self-reliance and partly to the predominantly Buddhist culture. The author isright to highlight the humane values of Ladakhi society, a
deep-rooted respect for each other’s fundamental human needs and an acceptance of the natural limitations of the environment. This kind of responsible attitude is something we can all admire and learn from. The abrupt changes that have taken place in Ladakh in recent decades are a reflection of a global trend. As our world growssmaller, previously isolated peoples are inevitably being brought into the greater human family. Naturally, adjustment takes time, in the course of which there is bound to be change. I share the author’s concern for the threatened ecology of our planet and admire the work she has done in promoting alternative solutions to many of the problems of modem development. If the Ladakhis’ enduring treasure,their natural sense of responsibility for each other and their environment, can be maintained and reapplied to new situations, then I think we can be optimistic about Ladakh’s future. There are young Ladakhis who have completed a modern education and are prepared to help their own people. At the same time traditional education has been strengthened in the monastic system through the restoration oflinks with Tibetan monasteries reestablished in exile. Finally, Ladakh has an abundance of sympathetic friends from abroad, who, like the author, are ready to offer support and encouragement. No matter how attractive a traditional rural society may seem, its people cannot be denied the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of modem development. However, as this book suggests, development and learning...
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