Peaceful Societies

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The Dalai Lama Visits Ladakh


His Holiness the Dalai Lama flew to Leh on July 3rd in order to spend 19 days in Ladakh, which included a celebration of his 83rd birthday on Friday the 6th. Four different local news sources covered the story—The Statesman, The Kashmir Monitor,, and Scoop News—emphasizing in different ways the mutual respect that the Ladakhi people have for the Buddhist leader and that he has for them.

The visit of the Dalai Lama to Leh in July 2012

The visit of the Dalai Lama to Leh in July 2012 (Photo by Andrea Schieber in Flickr, Creative Commons license)

According to the press reports, thousands lined the road from the airport to his official residence in Leh, the Shewatsel Phodrang, welcoming him with flowers and adornments. The Ladakhi men, women and children showed their respect for him by wearing their best clothing and carrying flowers, incense, and khataks, the ceremonial scarves that are traditionally given to lamas to show love and recognition to them. Many tourists were also in the crowds.

For his part, the Dalai Lama told a group of religious and community leaders at his residence about his joy at being able to visit Ladakh once again. He thanked the rinpoches, monks, nuns, and lay people, telling them that he appreciated their show of love and respect. He told his listeners that, along with material development, people need to develop the qualities of love, kindness, peace, forgiveness and compassion. All the religions of the world should develop such values, His Holiness said.

The Dalai Lama visiting Leh in 2014

The Dalai Lama visiting Leh in 2014 (Photo by Tzafrirt1 in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

He spoke about a recent conference in Delhi of the Indian Himalayan Buddhist communities, which Buddhist scholars from across India attended. He commended the decision of the Buddhist leaders at the conference to convert monasteries into learning centers. The shift of secular society from a feudal model into a democratic one should inspire the monastic system to make similar progressive changes. The “feudal system garners hate and violence, while democracy gives [the] right to all for developing a peaceful environment,” His Holiness added.

The Dalai Lama is widely loved and respected by the Muslim residents of Ladakh as well as by the Buddhists. After the birthday celebrations at his residence on the 6th, he planned to give teachings on Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisatva’s Way of Life from July 10 to 12. From July 18 to 20, he will participate in the Yarcho Chenmo, the Summer Buddhist Council for philosophical debates and discussions, held annually at the Samstanling Gonpa Sumoor in Nubra. He will also do some teaching at the teaching ground of the Shewatsel in Leh and in Nubra while he is there.

New Book on the Amish


Donald Kraybill, who is undoubtedly the leading authority on Amish life, has just written another book on his favorite subject. Last week, LancasterOnline reviewed his new work, Simply Amish, which was published by Herald Press on June 26.

It is a popularly-written, slender book of only 64 pages that is designed to answer questions about the Amish posed by visitors to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania—as well as those asked by the local “English.” Kraybill has retired from his teaching position at Elizabethtown College in the county but he still has the title Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies on the campus. “I have a lot of neighbors here in Elizabethtown who ask me a lot of interesting questions about the Amish that they really don’t know,” Kraybill tells LancasterOnline. So he designed his latest book to answer those questions.

One of the major topics of the book is the fact that the different dimensions of Amish life tend to be integrated into their religious life. In contrast, life for modern people in Lancaster County is specialized. Kraybill explains that non-Amish modern individuals have their families, their work, their community, their athletics, and so on. The Amish have their church. “You have this much stronger sense of integration of all of the dimensions of life in the Amish community,” he adds.

Donald Kraybill

Donald Kraybill (Photo by Dave Bonta)

Quoting Karen Johnson-Weiner, another Elizabethtown professor and also an authority on the Amish, Kraybill concludes that the “Amish people are always in church.” But he says that avoiding automobiles and continuing to emphasize their horse and buggy culture remains the defining characteristic of membership in Amish society. However, he says, the colors of the buggies vary—the ones in Lancaster County are gray while those in Holmes County, Ohio, are black.

Despite the fact that he has retired, Kraybill keeps busy. He edits the works of other scholars, continues doing research, and is assembling his papers for the Elizabethtown College archives. He expresses pleasure that he now can attended meetings and lectures if he feels like it. He says it is a privilege and a nice bonus of being retired, a sentiment that any academic can easily understand.


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