Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chi choen - What's the point?

The Ladakhi have a saying when conflict occurs, "Chi choen? (What's the point?) Anyway, we have to live together."

Saying this, they smile and, according to Helena Norberg-Hodge in Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, shrug off irritations and annoyances.

Even egregious breaches of confidence and trust are shrugged away with a broad smile.

The beauty of this is that the Ladakhi truly let go of ire. No subsurface tensions bubble and boil waiting an eruption. No stomach ulcers, heart disease, alcoholism fester from swallowing unfaced anger or pain.

Norberg-Hodge attributes this lack of bile in Ladakhi relationships to the fact that the children are raised by their entire family. Grandfathers can be seen carrying an infant. Older brothers and sisters play with or feed the baby routinely. Indeed, any one in the village will respond lovingly and immediately to a child's need.

Ladakhi children are constantly and lovingly attended.

Gracefully trained, never over-indulged, simply loved every moment of their lives, happy Ladakhi children grow up to be happy adults who believe that living together in harmony is more important than momentary disappointment.

The Village of Ordinary and its sister villages are patterned after the Ladakhi model.

While parents and close family members are the primary caregivers, the entire village, older children and adults, look after younger ones, always ready with a hug, a listening ear, attention to the child's state of mind and needs.

In such an environment, children learn early on how to handle conflict in their relationships and within themselves.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow, architect of the Hierarchy of Needs, in Toward a Psychology of Being, suggests that when a child's every need is met, the child matures to a fully self-actualized human being.

Unhindered by the psychological baggage of unmet needs, the adult is capable of reaching her full potential.

She is not bogged down, wasting time trying to gain the respect of the father who was unable to love her, the mother who met her basic needs of food and shelter but could spare no time to listen and engage with her child.

While Maslow's theories are controversial, his colleagues agree on one thing: Well-loved children, taught personal responsibility and respect for others from the get-go, grow up to be healthy, happy adults.

Next: given that most of us did not grow up with the joyous nurturing of the Ladakhi, how do we handle the inevitable interpersonal clashes that come our way?


  1. I definitely agree: "Well-loved children, taught personal responsibility and respect for others from the get-go, grow up to be healthy, happy adults."

    I'm looking forward to your next post.

  2. The next post is momentarily sidetracked, Paul. I welcome your wisdom and insight to its replacement.


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