Ancient Futures: Lessons from Ladakh for a Globalizing World

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Overview


A gripping portrait of the western Himalayan land sometimes known as “Little Tibet,” Ancient Futures opens with author Helena Norberg-Hodge’s first visit in 1975 to idyllic, preindustrial Ladakh. She then tracks the profound changes that occurred as the region was opened to foreign tourists and Western goods and technologies, and offers a firsthand account of how relentless pressure for economic growth precipitated generational and religious conflict, unemployment, inflation, and environmental damage, threatening to unravel Ladakh’s traditional way of life.

Energized by the fate of a people who had captured her heart, Norberg-Hodge helped establish the Ladakh Project (later renamed the International Society for Ecology and Culture) to seek sustainable solutions that preserve cultural integrity and environmental health while addressing the hunger for modernization. Since then, other Ladakh-based projects have proliferated, supporting renewable energy systems, local agricultural methods, and the spiritual foundations of Ladakhi culture.

The author’s new afterword brings readers up-to-date on the work of these projects and on her own career over several decades as she traveled widely, observing similar impacts on other cultures. She challenges us to rethink our concepts of “development” and “progress,” stressing above all the need to carry ancient wisdom into our future.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Norberg-Hodge first went to Ladakh in 1975 and has spent six months there every year since. This slim volume is her soapbox to air her views of how Ladakh should be. Part 1 is the romantic, idealized Shangri-la where everyone is happy and contented. Then she portrays Ladakh after the tourist invasions and economic development. Next is a tirade against multinational corporations that are responsible for all the world's problems (strange, since India banned most international companies 20 years ago). Finally, Norberg-Hodge describes her work in establishing local organizations to introduce local-level, low-capital inputs. A popular and sensitive introduction to Ladakh is needed, but this is not it. Not recommended.-- Donald Clay Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578051625
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Helena Norberg-Hodge, the first non-Ladakhi to become proficient in the language, lives in Ladakh for part of each year. The rest of the time she travels and lectures about the urgent lessons Ladakh has to offer the world.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments iv

Foreword H. H. The Dalai Lama vi

Introduction Peter Matthiessen viii

Prologue: Learning from Ladakh 1

Part 1 Tradition

1 "Little Tibet" 9

2 Living with the Land 19

3 Doctors and Shamans 37

4 We Have to Live Together 45

5 An Unchoreographed Dance 55

6 Buddhism-A Way of Life 72

7 Joie de Vivre 83

Part 2 Change

8 The Coming of the West 91

9 People from Mars 94

10 Money Makes the World Go Around 101

11 From Lama to Engineer 105

12 Learning the Western Way 110

13 A Pull to the Center 115

14 A People Divided 122

Part 3 Looking Ahead

15 Nothing Is Black, Nothing Is White 133

16 The Development Hoax 141

17 Counter-Development 157

18 The Ladakh Project 167

Epilogue: "Ancient Futures" 180

Afterword: An Economics of Happiness 193

Further Reading 213

Index 219

About the Author 225

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