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Gualala Arts Lecture Series presents:
Bhutan: Kingdom on the Cusp of Change

with Karma Singye Dorji
Monday, September 13, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Admission is $5

Gualala Arts will present a lecture featuring Karma Singye Dorji talking about Bhutan on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

Karma Singye Dorji Bhutanese writer, speaker and tour leader Karma Singye Dorji presents the fascinating Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan through the eyes of his Bhutanese family. Going beyond the headlines about Gross National Happiness, he will discuss what makes Bhutan truly special and how it is making its way into the modern world.

The modern state of Bhutan was born sometime in the mid seventeenth century, when the Buddhist saint Ngawang Namgyal began consolidating a power base in the western valleys of Bhutan. Taking the title Shabdrung or "At Whose Feet one Kneels," Ngawang Namgyal gradually built an impressive array of dzongs or fortress from west to east Bhutan, nearly all of which function today as centers of administrative and cultural life as it did in his day.

Bhutan While the Shabdrung's system of government ushered an era of relative peace and stability, his eventual demise resulted in internal power struggles, until the establishment of the monarchy in 1907. The first king of Bhutan, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, was the son of a powerful governor from Trongsa. Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck and the succeeding kings gradually liberalized government, ceding more powers to a National Assembly composed of elected local representatives, a small number of Buddhist clergy and a Council of Ministers. In the early part of 2008, full democratic elections resulted in the establishment of a parliamentary democracy with Bhutan's first democratically elected Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, at the helm of government.

Long removed by choice and geography, Bhutan was a land apart. Not anymore. The recent experiments with modernity present a unique set of challenges for the last Himalayan kingdom and its people. Guiding this change, and providing the moral compass for the nation, is Bhutan's revered monarchy.

Bhutan The vocabulary of change and national policy discussions in Bhutan is dominated by three words: Gross National Happiness, or as it is popularly known in Bhutan, GNH. It is through GNH that the kingdom and its government seeks to meet the evolving challenges of a rapidly modernizing state. The basic tenets of GNH include Buddhist respect for all sentient beings, promotion of social harmony through cultural appreciation, and the integrated practice of working together for the common good. But will the homogenizing forces of change and the burgeoning aspirations of a population increasingly exposed to the outside world bring unforeseen problems for a hitherto sensible way of life?

Learn how the situation is evolving, what forces of global change could make or break the fragile peace of this lovely, seemingly mythic country. Understand the battle for hearts and minds that has undeniably arrived at Shangri-La's door.

Dreaming of Prayer Flags: Stories and Images from Bhutan Mr. Dorji is editor of Druk Air's inflight magazine, writes a weekly column for the Bhutan Times newspaper, authored Dreaming of Prayer Flags: Stories and Images from Bhutan, and has lectured at the Smithsonian and San Francisco's Asian Art Museum. During the second half of the '90s, Mr. Dorji traveled extensively to write about the Five Year Plan programs for national growth led by the beloved fourth king of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. His grandfather served as a personal attendant to the second King of Bhutan and his father retired as a provincial governor, after having served the government in his varied capacities as a Director in the Department of Agriculture and as a business and industry representative to the government.

The presentation will include the images of local artist and photographer Jeanne Gadol, who traveled with Karma Singye Dorji through his homeland in 2009.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

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