Learning from Ladakh


Ladakh: Little Tibet at the Roof of the World

Known as Little Tibet at The Roof of the World, Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, has existed for thousands of years under one ruler and another. Once a bustling stop on the Silk Road, Ladakh is tucked high in the Himalayas, between Pakistan, Tibet and China, the nexus of land and trade wars for centuries. For just as long, adventurers have delighted in its stunning vistas and isolation.

Despite the factions warring to control the region’s roadways and passes, until recently the people of Ladakh lived peacefully. As a society, they knew almost no violence. They exploited neither one another nor the land. Producing no more than they needed, they used and reused absolutely everything, wanted for nothing, and enjoyed a vibrant trade with their neighbors.

From high in the mountains, they channeled glacial melt-water through long, ancient, carefully maintained aquaducts to their high desert valleys. From these aquaducts they used one stream for drinking and irrigating crops and another for washing clothing, for they understood how important it is not to contaminate their drinking supply.

Highly efficient in controlling their population and not overburdening the land, they built beautiful multi-story homes, farmed crops well adapted to the short growing season and husbanded animals for food, warmth, labor and companionship.

Best of all, they partied for weeks at a time during the harshest winter months long after the planting and harvesting are done, when there is little else to do, the days are short and the temperatures well below freezing.

Westernization brings poverty and loss

As air travel and tourism increased in the last few decades, Western encroachment, with its “improvements” and modernizations nearly destroyed this ancient culture. Thankfully, many individuals work daily to preserve and renew it. I pray they succeed, for if they can restore their culture, there is every hope that we can build as beautiful a life for the rest of the world.

I encourage you to go to your local library and check out Ancient Futures, or follow the link and read it free online. It may well inspire you as it has me. Perhaps it will inspire in you a vision of not just a better world, but a good world.

We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, © L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.

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Next: Visioning a Good World

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