Ladakh over the past three decades has emerged as one of India's leading tourist destinations, attracting visitors across the globe. Westerners when they first discovered and came to Ladakh, they had a strong feeling of Déjà vu. Initially, they couldn’t understand what was going on but soon they realized that they had come back to a civilization that they had long lost.
Apart from pinning for adventure, and natural beauty, many come in search of spirituality, peace and the essence of life for which Ladakh still has a lot to offer. They go back home much lighter recharging themselves with all the values, leaving behind their metropolitan stress, tensions, fears, and worries. They realize what they have sacrificed for the pursuit of capitalism, materialism, and consumerism. Materially they seemed to have everything and yet they are not satisfied as they lack something deeper.
For centuries, we have enjoyed the serenity, the ancient social, cultural and ethical values of this land and its strong spiritual energy that is deeply rooted in our psyche. Though our lives were simple but we were rich in faith and devotion, simplicity, contentment, and forgiving which kept alive the heritage of peace and co-existence.
With the influx of tourism things changed drastically. With the cash coming in we recklessly invested in building hotels, guest houses, restaurants, and bigger houses, buying bigger cars, washing machines, music systems, and refrigerators etc. and stressed ourselves so much that it has gravely affected both our body and mind resulting in an unhealthy lifestyle. Easy Loans and government subsidies further fueled our greed with false promises of profit and also planted a lot of fear, anxieties and worries.
Today our hospitals and clinics are more crowded than ever before and many diseases remained undiagnosed. Today we are perhaps moving in the direction of the west acquiring all the materialistic things but at the cost of our wellbeing and happiness.
All kinds of psychosomatic diseases or problems unheard off before have plagued us. Stress, tensions, depressions and other metropolitan diseases were alien to us. Today though we have managed to acquire almost all the basic necessities of life, we are at the brink of forgetting the very essence of our life.
Let us go through some of our so called progress and see if that has changed our life from good to better. Let us analyze and ensure if our life today is more progressive than before.
In the earlier times whoever we meet on the way we always greeted each other and there was a strong human connection. Today we seem to have lost human connection. If today someone is standing by the roadside, helplessly asking for a lift standing in the hot sun, we don’t bother to stop and give a lift. We seem to have forgotten the taste of human connection.
Even when we get together during some functions or celebration, many of us don’t have the time to get down to a serious thoughtful discussion; everyone takes out his or her latest mobile gadgets, and engaged in some meaningless social networking and chatting. We have lost our focus and we have become very restless and agitated. Just imagine what would be our state of mind if for a day we are left with no mobile phones, I am sure we would go crazy as we are so addicted and dependent on this latest technologies. We are moving from a community to individualism which would eventually lead to loneliness, frustration and depression.
Today our biggest investment is the house. We have managed to build a big house and decorate it with large glass rooms, expensive marbles, granite and imported furniture, but are we also creating quality time to enjoy the house with our family members or is it just lying there wearing away?
We have managed to furnish our bedrooms with luxurious mattresses but are we also creating the right conditions to have a sound sleep on it?
We have somehow managed to afford fancy and luxurious cars but are we learning the car culture to drive safely and comfortably?
We have managed to increase our savings in the bank but are we also developing and maintaining our altruism to share with others?
We have managed to upgrade our marital system from arranged to so call love marriage, but are we trying to understand the sacredness and responsibility of living together happily as life partners or do we soon get bored and engaged in all kinds of illicit relationship?
We have managed to get the highest professional degrees, pass the highest state exams, get placement in highest government offices as well as corporate sectors, but are we also becoming more humble for our achievement and win respect of the masses?
We have managed to build the biggest temples, monasteries, Buddhas and Stupas but are we also developing the right faith and devotion to get their blessings?
Holiest of monks, nuns, and lay teachers are visiting and teaching us but are we also cultivating the right focus, concentration and positive approach to receive their valuable teachings and live accordingly?
It’s high time to understand that human greed is like a bottomless bucket, no matter how much we fill it never fills. If we don’t think and live wisely today with contentment, we might soon go ethically bankrupt. With the better economic condition, we should also uphold higher ethical values then our life will have real meaning and purpose. If we merely focus on extreme materialism then probably very soon in the near future we could find ourselves bag packing in search of peace, happiness and the essence of life, not realizing that it’s at our threshold.
We have to have a livelihood, but livelihood should not become the life per-se. We should aim to be rich not merely materially but also morally and spiritually, then certainly we can enjoy and celebrate whatever we accumulate in our lifetime.
The writer is a Int’l meditation and spiritual teacher, Founder President, Int’l Fellowship of Buddhist Youth Ladakh and Former Vice President, World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth, South Asia. You can write your comments and views at firstname.lastname@example.org