How to grow together in the true consciousness
A Douce Mère
A note of reminder
While we are presently confronted with the reality of an effective take over by the representatives of the Central Government of India, assisted by several Aurovilians who see in this radical intervention the only avenue for the recovery of the ideal development of the city of Auroville, and as we must reckon with a number of breaches of the most elementary ethics, must even envisage the eventuality of an expulsion, of a brutal interruption of the experience and even of a forced exile, it is necessary to rejoin within oneself this certitude which has borne us along the years, the certitude that the creation of Auroville is the Mother‟s offering to That which She sometimes named “the Supreme Lord” and therefore that its truth and destiny both belong to Him, whatever the appearances may be and come what may.
This is the summer of 2022 and Auroville is occupied by a battle of perspectives, a conflict as absurd as it is harmful and as harmful as it is absurd, as if all the participants had been deported and alienated from the one single priority, that of the progress of our consciousness, which all difficulties and seeming contradictions can serve and hasten if only we remain centred and aligned in our aspiration to grow in truth.
But what are the stated reasons for such a chasm to open between us all?
What is their foundation and is there one?
I would so much like to show, for instance, the inanity of this obsessive insistence on the material realisation of an urbanisation plan which, however attractive it may still appear, is NOT issued from the supreme source of the Auroville adventure and can NOT be attributed in any direct way to the Mother‟s will or vision, nor, consequently, be charged with Her whole authority...
But how to do that without raising such a din and opprobrium that the very meaning of the message will be neutralized?
Let us try, however, in order to approach the matter, to stick to the plain facts: not a single document signed by Her, not a single recording of Her words anywhere indicates Her will to see materialized this particular plan which is now being promoted with loads of massive arguments and a panoply of legal terms.
This famous plan of the galaxy, which has been revised, amended, modified, altered, studied, commented upon, criticized and adored on so many occasions over the five decades of Auroville‟ existence, while it did appear initially , in one of its earliest versions, on a brochure released to inform the public and encourage donations, on which Mother had signed Her Blessings, around the time of the inauguration of Auroville, not only has never been developed into a detailed study taking into account all the existing factors, but represents a model that is different to the one Mother had first appreciated as a faithful translation, or rendering, of Her formation – that of a nebulae with its motionless radiation in every direction at once, rather than this one of a galaxy rotating to the left. Nonetheless it was indeed indispensable for the collective adventure of Auroville to be provided with a general plan which would serve as a guide and a spur to preserve and encourage the urge, discipline and commitment of all of its members towards the future, a future that would concern humanity as a whole, rather than remain the restricted domain of an elite, however representative. And in this perspective, Mother has given a number of clues regarding the functioning of the city, the mode of living of its inhabitants, their approach to material goods as well as to the spirit of simplicity, diversity and harmony that must reign. Regarding the inner structure of the city as well, She has given, through Her own sketches and recorded words, the leading principles: at the centre the sanctuary of Truth and Love - which She finally named “Matrimandir”, with water around it and the Park of Unity, all of it in a silent zone -, then the four large petals defining the four principles of activity – international, industrial, cultural and residential – and, at the circumference, tucked
between the curving edges of the four petals, the service areas, relating with the outside (all this surrounded and flanked by the forests and farms, larger industries... and the beaches!). In fact, She has given all the indications one could possibly wish for on the contents and almost none on the forms, for it is the life of consciousness in its progress that would find the corresponding forms – and not the reverse. The few instances of Her drawing or sketching precise forms or outlines have been consigned to the archives: for instance, Her detailed drawing of the Urn which would contain soil from all the countries, has been stored away, just as have the outlines of the access to the Matrimandir or to its area. It was only with Her description of the Matrimandir Inner Chamber that She positively insisted on its exact dimensions and measurements and on the presence of all of its elements. Many a time She commented that details were of little interest to Her, in the sense that they would be elaborated in time without predetermined fixity, unless She had SEEN and experienced what must be realised, as She had for the Inner Chamber, as we all know, but also for the surrounding park at the centre of the town, Her dream since childhood of the most beautiful garden in the world...
Often in our endless debates, one will refer to “Mother‟s will”, but this is a human notion, formed by the human ego, and it is not thus that we can open to Her way.
For that, one must first become conscious of Her Presence, learn to recognize Her atmosphere and to live by Her Grace: there is no ego in Mother. There is a conscious Force of Truth and Harmony that moves forward, pushes and drives and works ceaselessly, through everything. So, what follows here, what I will try to express in these pages – which one will read or reject, may shock, disconcert, outrage, or invite to reflexion and draw echoes and resonances. However I promise that each word will be the fruit of experience – mine, ours, that of Auroville as a collective, that of all those for whom Mother and Sri Aurobindo are the bearers of Truth upon earth.
My sources are the written or recorded words of Mother and Sri Aurobindo exclusively.
Now I shall spell out, without explanation, a number of choices and orientations that Auroville as a collective has made over the five decades of its material existence, which have contributed to a degree of alienation from the true sense and purpose of Auroville. Yet I will not broach the matter of the influences that have weighed on these choices, for here is not the subject matter of concern. Hearing what all is being said – and affirmed - these days, one could well observe that everyone is at once right and mistaken. Everyone is right, each one is right, as no one can live in Auroville without grasping some ray, some aspect, some indication of the truth that is waiting to be manifested upon earth. And everyone is wrong, everyone cannot but be wrong, in the sense and measure of our having collectively deviated from the adventure that offered itself to us – that still offers itself to be lived.
It is not to just one deviation that I shall try to bear witness to, but to several consecutive ones. First I shall list them, without any particular order since they formed almost simultaneously or within the same period of time;
then I shall, through some anecdotes, expand a little on each of them.
The first of these deviations occurred when enmity was accepted within the family (the entire assembly of all those who wished or yearned to serve Mother) and one began to identify the adversary with “the other” instead of working upon one‟s own transformation. Yet evidently, as soon as Mother was no longer visible and accessible in Her room, the general atmosphere was considerably impoverished, the individual egoistic natures were as if revived and, on the still virgin territory of Auroville, we thus had to cope and struggle with notions far too narrow and stifling and intents of control far too limited and arbitrary for us to bend to. Nevertheless, as a collective, we have compromised with our law: we began to judge, to condemn, to pretend we could discern the presence and action of the “adversary” in whoever was not supporting us and this “we”, this “us” has consequently fragmented.
These deviations are like bad folds of habit: one wants to straighten them, at once they form again.
There were many efforts at reconciliation along the years, but they were weighed down by an emotionalism devoid of force or reach. Such folds are contagious and corrosive; each one becomes their relaying station, situating the enemy or the obstacle in another individual, another group, another association and in this way a whole dynamic of separation and distance spreads out.
And when the two “opposite camps” were so entre nched, there remained only one option, that of the intervention of an external force, superior in terms of ordinary power, to try and safeguard the material possibility of the adventure.
The second deviation occurred more gradually, once the dual administration as defined by the Act of Parliament which gave birth to the “Auroville Foundation” was set in motion. At first, the understanding was that this was only a temporary measure of unassailable legal protection which would provide the voluntary residents of Auroville enough time to work out their own organization according to their collective intuition of a future yet to be discovered. But then, almost insensibly, two temptations profiled themselves, with their conjoined effects and consequences: one was to seek financial assistance from the Central Government in order to help develop some domains of research of universal import, beginning with that of education. Mother had always been very keen on accepting only unconditional donations, or else such loans that would be flexible and comprehensive enough; likewise She had categorically repelled any attempt at interference on the part of any external organization in the affairs of the Ashram or those of Auroville, whatever might be the initial intentions.
Of this we did not take enough care.
And thus, once assured of a relative economic security and of the possibility of creating new structures without drawing from those funds generated by the productive and commercial activities of
the Aurovilians, a precedent took root, which embodied the ambiguity of this relationship with the ordinary power – an instrument of effectuation which could as well serve the future as curse and corrupt our aspirations, for this was not the expression of human help and contribution with the will to collaborate and answer the call, but the workings of a formidable apparatus which could eventually turn back on any urge for autonomy. And while this very ambiguity was settling, the second temptation grew and fed on the countless recriminations, disillusions, plaints and requests which one usually addresses to “those who govern and have the power ” ; the desire, or the opportunity, to refer to a well-seated and legitimate authority in the orbit of the larger society, did its little gnawing work and as a result a subtle habit of betrayal could find lodgings amongst us. Instead of treating all problems and all questions as given occasions to progress together towards more awareness and discernment, more capacity to assimilate, integrate and convert the parts of our humanness, this other bad fold did its shadowy habitual job and it thus became almost acceptable to turn to the Government – to its representatives – for any manner of redressal or justice or even for moral support, and that much energy was diverted. The third deviation almost logically occurs out of the second one, or of the influence this second one exerted on our approach to collective organization. Instead of persevering in the progressive discipline of transforming our attitude towards power and learning to consider every work and every task as a service to the Truth-
Consciousness, whether administrative, creative, productive or domestic, we have opted for the centralization of all the conventional powers and assembled their functioning operations in the same location, wherein we have even invited the official government administration to jointly build its offices – and all of this bordering and overlooking the area most essential to the adventure, that of the inner Sanctuary. Thus have we, for the time being at least and in practical terms, partly renounced the effort to develop an actual and living spirit of service in each and all of our activities. And this last is in close relationship, physical and psychological, with the following, fourth deviation – but “fourth” may perhaps be inappropriate, as one might consider this altering slide, passive submission or obliging acquiescence as, in fact, crucially determining: our resignation to the physical, public and cultural orientation that was forced or imposed on the existence of Matrimandir. For, rather than a space of concentration wholly dedicated to Force of Truth, which one would reach from an entire area reserved to silence, beauty and the living harmony of Nature, discreet in its majesty, we have collectively accepted and endorsed an ostentatious version, loudly claiming name and fame, the impact of which has further alienated from our centre of inner resourcing, while contributing to a general incomprehension or a dreadful misunderstanding as regards the very aim and purpose of Auroville and its relationship to the spiritual reality. Instead of serving the Force of the Shakti working for a terrestrial future of progressive oneness and harmony, beyond the gods and
their symbols, towards a living and concrete realization of the fundamental unity of all that is, we must now endlessly answer for the reasons and objectives of this golden globe so costly to maintain, set in its showy case of calibrated greenery like a luxury item displayed in a shop window, supposedly offered to the glory of the supramental sun meant to reign over us all. And the fifth deviation, probably inevitable as it both follows and secures the others, has risen in its vestment of evidence and conviction, legitimized by our increasing numbers and escalating difficulty to communicate all together in a constructive enough manner: this was our vaguely prudent and conditional adhesion to “democratic” processes, beginning with voting “rights and duties”. Naturally, all of the attendant practices and techniques have therefore reintroduced themselves, stealthily slipping into all of our relationships and have further diminished us all, in terms of our collective capacity for mutual trust, receptivity and intuition. And then there is the sixth deviation, which virtually invited itself early on, almost with the birth of Auroville, and consists of our unresolved and irresolute acceptance before the affirmation of a sacred plan, figuring as a doctrine above and beyond all questioning; it is thus not the most recent and one could sometimes place it in the first position; yet along the years it played a useful role inasmuch as it served as a constant reminder of the truly collective dimension of Auroville, as a proportional representation of mankind and, therefore, of our duty and obligation to reach a level of creation sufficiently eloquent and appreciable as a proof, model and testimony of another, new quality of terrestrial existence. „
But, allying with the other deviations already indicated, the voluntary partisans of this sacred plan, unarguable since it is said to be of superior origin, however often it has been manipulated and remains as yet wholly insufficient for actual execution, have erected themselves as missionaries and zealous voices of the truth of Auroville; in this way, the society we physically form has become more and more subjected to a tearing apart of approaches, in place of the balancing tension that had so far saved us from getting mired in one excess or the other. One might suggest a seventh deviation, which would be, from the perspective of the Mother‟s Yoga, THE devi ation that allowed all the others to rise, but how to define the misery, the weakness and smallness and the attachment that have prevented us from giving ourselves entirely and unconditionally to the practice of Her indications? It is our arrogance, the arrogance of that which does not give itself, which has propelled us into a maze of false interpretations, this debilitating puppet show of quotes, the fake refinements of our denunciations and opportunistic ostracisms or successive hollow declarations of th e “failure” of Auroville (for in our wisdom we have already many times condemned Auroville to defeat and insignificance). This hoax of the ego within us all would thus be the cause of all our treasons and compromises, would it not?
“We want a race without ego.”
Here is the law of our path: there is none other.
Each of us is but an apprentice and will only become capable of true service when and once all ego will be abolished in one‟s nature: ego, this “bad fold” which was indispensable to the development of human consciousness, has served. Another being awaits us.
Now I shall narrate a few episodes which seem to me to reflect the currents and forces at play in our collective experience, such as I have lived them personally. The first one is set in the tim e of the “conflict” with the SAS (the Society which was de facto the owner of the lands of Auroville and responsible for the realization of the “project”, the legal representatives of which were receiving the donations made in the Mother‟s name) . A number of individuals had found themselves unwilling to join either “side” and, by affinity or out of pragmat ism, had assembled under the banner of “neutrality”: thus were they named the “neutrals”. It so happened that most of them had, by then, individually turned to a great Tantric master who had been well known and appreciated by Mother Herself, settled in Rameshwaram, generally known as Panditji. Mother had several times sent him one or the other of Her disciples, or “children” , so he could help them to discipline their lower nature and control their mental activity. She had Herself
momentarily made use of some of his practices to assist Her own work of awakening in the most material consciousness. Panditji had thus diligently and actively engaged in the resolution of certain obstacles; however, Mother knew that he was not yet able to follow Her further on, in spite of the reverence, respect and veneration he felt for Her, and She even advised Satprem, who had followed his discipline for several years, to free himself from his influence. When Satprem could begin to publish the 13 volumes of Mother‟s Agenda, transcribed from the recordings he had been able to save since the late 1950s, the situation of the Aurovilians was rather precarious and their unity of awareness and commitment was all the more crucial and it seemed to him that the affiliation of these “neutrals” to Panditji could be harmful in the atmosphere of Auroville; he thus addressed a warning to everyone. There was a large gathering of “Pour Tous”, as was then named our assembly, which would take place here or there, according to the possibilities; this time it was happening in one of the “solid” houses in “Certitude”. I clearly remember having pronounced in support of this warning; if I am now telling this, it is to try and express what I then realized, the amplitude of a deep misunderstanding, of which I only became fully aware through such incidents. I had not the least animosity towards these “neutrals” and, in fact, in some measure their position was comprehensible to me; I had never had any contact with Panditji; I had full confidence in Satprem, although I found him at times somewhat excessive; I was often very uneasy with statements made here or there and many times felt estranged or repelled by certain attitudes; but in my consciousness it was entirely clear, evident and certain that
the Mother‟s Force alone could lead and guide us on the path of the True and that we had no need of any other influence or any other knowledge – we needed Her alone. And thus it also seemed to me equally obvious that the fact of turning to another practice and address oneself to another, lesser degree of knowledge could only sow confusion and trouble the receptivity which we absolutely needed. And yet, observing that the position I had expressed reinforced a denunciating attitude leading to ostracism, I became aware of this terrible misunderstanding, which continues to plague us under various guises. Mother and Sri Aurobindo have done all the work, cleared and opened the way of an awakening to a sovereign Truth Consciousness which would take the reins of terrestrial evolution; our part was to learn and walk onto this new path, to offer to it and find in it everything; how could it be that this treasure of concrete and verifiable indications They had left with us all, the concrete and verifiable presence of the Consciousness Force watching over each of us, how could this all be deemed insufficient? How to describe or define it?
At the same time, I realized that, so long as ego subsists, the vileness of exclusivism remains active.
What cannot tolerate difference, cannot be true.
What cannot tolerate purity, cannot be true.
Every authentic expression of the truth of one‟s being has its place in Mother‟s Con sciousness.
These three utterings may appear incompatible to our mental intelligence, which requires an organizing logic as well as a degree of morality; and yet, Mother‟s actions regarding each and all of us have clearly shown their coexistence. It is only our attachment to our limitations – to the separation resulting from the ego – that prevents us from integrating their apparent contradiction. The period I evoke with this symbolic incident was actually very favourable to the progress of collective consciousness: we had no legal existence, we were “outlaws” and had no other recourse than to rely on Her Grace; thus we had to learn and define, for ourselves in our already evident diversity, a code of conduct which would be impersonal, faithful and receptive enough a reference not to betray our purpose, either by being irresponsible or by an excess of rigidity. In this regard, one could nowadays wonder: how did it come to pass that, from a simple code of conduct we have allowed such senseless proliferation of rules and regulations? But this has not taken place out of a happy choice: this thorny and often discouraging undergrowth has two sources: one is our gradual loss of trust in one another and the second is the imposition by the Government of India of very restrictive rules, particularly as regards “foreigners”. And it is quite likely that we have not sought hard enough for their respective resolutions.
Now I will broach the matter of the Matrimandir, as representative or exemplary of the questions that rise before us on our way of collectively conscious progress and change, which demands that we become free of all lower determinisms as dictated by the agency of the ego. In the process I will suggest that the voice of the majority is not always that of the highest and widest truth; that, from the perspective of the whole, living and entire Truth, all approaches are valid and none is sufficient and that, therefore, the correctives raised by opposition remain indispensable if we do not want to all fall under the yoke of a deathly single Thought, and that is each of us‟ duty to tirelessly cultivate a discernment that grows more and more receptive and more aware of the right usage of our goodwill. Moreover I also suggest that every material choice implies a particular vision or comprehension of reality, of the goal to be reached, the means to be used and the conditions to be respected in order to reach it; that no single material choice is indifferent, since, contrarily to what we were conditioned to think, Matter is in no way separate. For instance, the choice of one object amidst others will reveal much about the attitude held by the person who chooses towards others and the world.
Here then is another scene and another arrangement of forces in the atmosphere of Auroville, about a decade later: we are – well, not everyone of us, this was no longer feasible because of the numbers, but an attendance fairly representative of the various viewpoints being held at the time – gathered in a large room or
hall on the first floor of a new building located in the industrial zone, elected for its acoustics and dimensions. The topic is a burning one: it is the matter of the final covering and appearance of the shell of Matrimandir.
It is an ongoing battle.
In order to situate it, here is a condensed historical. To begin, one must remember that Roger A., the “chief architect of Auroville”, had gone away from Auroville – during about ten tears – since the burst of conflict with the SAS and that the entire construction of the structure of the Matrimandir had rested on the diligence, the precision, the discipline and the managing and organizing capacities of Piero C.; but once the whole of the main concrete structure was built, the question arose before us all once more, of the shell itself, its components and its final appearance. Yet these winds of polemics had already blown several times before – as during the construction of the dodecagonal inner room: what were to be its exact measurements from wall to wall, from their inner or outer surface or from their mid-section, or what was to be the material of the translucent globe in its centre, or were these twelve columns really necessary since they had no structural function, such were the elements on which those winds had thrived and now they had returned with renewed vigour. And in fact, the matter had already engaged everybody several years before: how were we to realize the actual armature of the shell , joining the four vertical arcs: Roger‟s faithful and partisans, some of whom had previously worked with him in the early years, were valiantly advocating the choice of a metallic structure, relatively light and flexible, onto which the decorative elements could be anchored; this option corresponded with Roger‟s
approach to a necessary plasticity offering the possibility of ulterior changes and improvements. The other approach was founded on Mother‟s explicit recommendations as to the qualities required for the construction of Her temple – solidity, durability, stability, harmony -; in this perspective, the detailed study already done by the engineers who had calculated the entire concrete structure, of a geodesic armature of concrete beams, seemed to us at Matrimandir to be preferable, even though its realization would demand more time and labour; the Matrimandir workers team, of which I was part, had then stood for the latter and settled the matter, just as it had once done regarding the manufacture and installation of the twelve columns in the Chamber (simply because Mother had seen them), and we thus had to harness ourselves to a rather colossal enterprise – the fabrication and fixation of hundreds of beams in rows of triangles. And once again, and with more intensity, the debate had involved the entire community, in 1987; for all these years until then we had all lived day and night with the awareness of the majestic physical presence of this “being” of concrete in the very middle of the Auroville space, growing and gradually assuming and defining its volume and its grace; Matrimandir was for us all a whole being by right, a constant friend central to all our steps; at each stage of its erection, from its early outline as a motionless vessel opening to the skies, to that of its upstretched limbs yearning to join and to its present form of a sphere open to the elements, it was like an essential destiny manifesting itself and it was also the symbol of our inner haven. We all knew, and awaited the moment, that this sphere still unsealed, still relating to the light and the air and the growing trees around it, would one day shut itself like a protective cocoon sheltering the site of silent concentration dedicated and meant for
the Consciousness-Force of Truth, but this emotional and physical communication with the life of Auroville, could it not be somehow preserved? Thus, some of us had dreamt of another solution: to lay large triangular panes of strong glass onto the concrete armature, which would stop the rain and the dust but still let through the light and impressions of the natural environment. Others, observing the puissant harmony of this geodesic facetted sphere, wished to clothe it in a material at once noble, simple and lasting and offered to cover it with plates of white marble which would each reflect uniquely the ambient light. Still others were trying for a more generic solution: to reset the contours of an actual smooth and continuous sphere by creating bands of light concrete laid with thousands of little squares of ceramic tinted by natural oxides, from light ochre to blue and green, answering to each variation of the light and offering a tranquil and permanent mystery of beauty to the beholder. And of course, the model of the golden discs remained paramount in most of us, as such had been the official version since the beginning. However there were now new practical problems to be solved, beginning with that of the visibility which would suffuse the interior of the sphere, that is the space between the outer walls of the Inner Chamber seated in its upper part and its outer covering. Moreover, it averred that the initial model of the golden discs presented by Roger‟s team years before could not adapt to the new geometry of the shell structure and that a whole new study of the arrangement and composition of the concave and convex discs animating the entire surface of the sphere would have to be made.
The agitation became so tense that it seemed indispensable to come to a definite choice and keep to it. But how to make that choice all together? Was it even possible? Yet, time was pressing and we had to move forward. Two models were displayed for the community: too fast, using too many short-cuts and too much hubris, shamelessly drawing from the most alluring symbols, there was one model in white faceted marble and another with golden discs recalibrated and rearranged so as to fit the rows of triangles. The moon and the sun; the spiritual light and the supramental glory; the past and the future...: the obstinacy of the binary mind had its hold still. From an inner poise, none of the models being presented elicited an adhesion of the whole being; one, by its discreet elegance, retained a kind of openness to further evolution, nuanced and diverse, but it lacked a conquering force; the other, by its flaming splendour, its seductive narrative, invited a kind of dominating enthusiasm, but lacked the calm probity natural to the soul. Gross arguments, harangues and pressures, it was a loud mobilisation, and rather undignified. And the method of voting by raising hands was brutally introduced.
Obviously, the sun won the contest.
And we, the team of the Matrimandir workers, received our mandate.
A first step in the execution of this mandate soon was worked out: the fabrication on site of triangular ferrocement panels, each pierced with an opening the size of a porthole in its middle, which would lifted and affixed one by one onto the structure. This would be another enormous labour, during which we would also have to urgently identify and define the methods and
materials not only for the hundreds of discs, but for the inner translucent cover that would filter and unify the luminosity within the sphere, giving it the tint of rose orange of the Auroville hibiscus f lower chosen by Mother (“the beauty of supramental love”). One also would have to ensure a proper waterproofing of the entire building. Meanwhile, the question of the nature of the materials to be used was, in the world at large, taking on a charged significance, given the overall increase in toxic pollution emitted or released by most artificial materials in use, and the concern for choosing noble and harmless materials, durable and reliable, could not be ignored. And here we are, in this room I mentioned, as this matter has forcefully occupied our collective consciousness: the room vibrates with disagreement and discord and criticism, affirmation and recrimination; for some of our trials on site – such as the experimental manufacture of plastic translucent panels or polyester discs, which had had to be abandoned, had given rise, understandably, to anxiety and mistrust. A few of our Matrimandir team were seated at one end of the hall and at the other end, among many others, sat Paolo; there had been since long between Paolo and I a friendship that communicated effortlessly and he knew my sentiments and aspirations; and now, he was not understanding. And so, suddenly, across the room he addressed me directly, how could I support and defend this model!? Paolo was not an Aurovilian; he used to come and go between the Ashram and Italy since years, he had received from Mother, in Satprem‟s presence, Her first descriptions of the Inner Room, he had contributed actively to the creating of Her new apartments on the second floor of the Ashram main building with the balcony from which She would give Her darshans, he was an artist, an
architect and a creator of environments, very keen on harmony as his law of conduct; his marble model had been rejected, but he was continuing to work assiduously with Piero on all the details of the Inner Room; and he still had hope that another, alternative and more wholesome solution could be found. How could I possibly, right there and then, explain to him how we were bound by the choice the community had made and could only strive to realize it with the greatest care and perfection we could achieve? My one and only hope, in my consciousness and commitment, was for a harmonious equilibrium which would establish the proportions between the spectacle and the real experience, through the completion of the gardens and park, this “most beautiful place in the world” of which Mother had dreamt as a child, within which this gold sphere could silently reveal itself. For this was not merely a matter of the object itself – the building, the edifice, the monument or the shrine, call it by whatever name -, but of a collective conduct, of a whole emotive and mental approach, of a whole understanding or view of its role and function, of its communication with the world and of a whole mode of development and manifestation. It was then that I realized to what extent still one can be torn between what the community chooses and what one feels deeper within oneself as necessary, right and open to the Truth that must become incarnate upon earth. How to reconcile the two experiences, the two aspirations, the two commitments – since the striving for the cohesion of the community and one‟s contribution of the goodwill necessary are part of our service to Auroville -, how to find their harmony?
An easy answer to this quandary does not seem to be available, as one may confirm today, as regards the governance of Auroville and the so- called “Master Plan”.
There are moments when the way of Auroville becomes tangible, vibrant and as if invincible – perhaps when we forget our oppositions, differences, exclusivisms? Intellectually, it is relatively easy to conceive of the effort required from the individual and the collective: the former must offer one‟s limitat ions and egoistic preferences and learn to perceive each of the other viewpoints presented, while the latter must ensure that none of these viewpoints is ignored or rejected, so that all the participants without exception may wholly heartedly adhere to the chosen orientation. This is not done through any blind and passive surrender or any resignation, but through a real integration, by which both, the individual and the collective, grow in awareness and capacity of manifestation. Such is our apprenticeship, and the Force of Auroville, its real force of creative contagion, is still waiting for us to complete it, so Auroville may radiate.
More years went by, this here is but a selective foray to illustrate a quest – a quest for integrality and integrity at once, which I am attempting to share; the way of Auroville is complex, probably unpredictable, now threatened, now obstructed and now
il lumined, and each one of us can but offer one‟s little flame of aspiration, one‟s need of truth, one‟s opening to divinity.
After numerous trials – and failures – in the workshops on site, we could finally establish for each element of the model the optimal methods and materials: for the inner translucent panels of the shell, for the portholes and for the discs; the waterproofing of the entire sphere seemed to be possible only by using a kind of synthetic covering compound acting like an added skin. Meanwhile the construction of the twelve structures named “petals” all around the sphere, each one containing its own ovoid chamber of mediation bathed in one of the twelve colours of the Mother‟s symbol expressing one of Her twelve powers at work in the universe, was nearing its term. It was time to come to a clear agreement on the area, the character and the composition of the gardens and park – the inner gardens around the sphere and its petals and the outer gardens around the oval area.
How can one comprehend the intensity and the strength of the forces involved – while it is only a matter of configuration occupying but a minuscule speck of earth -, who has not been exposed to the work of Auroville?
From the start and during the first fifteen years or so, the plan for the whole area, the “Peace area” as named by Mother, was articulated in two distinct and complementary parts: the Matrimandir, the Banyan and the Amphitheatre with the twelve petals and the thirteen inner gardens, more refined and detailed,
inhabiting an oval space ten times the dimensions of the slightly flattened sphere; then a water channel all around it, of variable width and a maximum depth of 3.50 m, and the Park of Unity, or Outer Gardens, comprising many large trees and shrubs of different species and gently contoured; the entire area would be bordered by a circular road and would probably accessed from the West. During this period we had thus worked under the aegis of Narad whom Mother had entrusted with the responsibility, for the creation of this soft contouring and the plantation of numerous trees obtained as seeds or saplings by Narad from many different parts of the world, which he would dispose according to their canopies and their colouring. At the time Auroville had not yet acquired all the land and we could only lay this base on about two thirds of the total area. When, later on, Roger returned to work in Auroville, he first confirmed this configuration, executing with his new team a detailed plan of it, respecting all its elements and their relationships. But his aesthetic sense demanded a visual approach of the central architectural object, which must be seen and appreciated from every direction without obstruction. A solution presented itself to him, unexpectedly: an engineer, friend of Auroville, brought a study and a plan of a system for collecting and distributing water in the city, of which the major component would be a large lake occupying the entire area of the outer gardens; since this study appeared well conceived and thought out and sought to address a real need for the future of the whole city to be, Roger saw in it an excellent opportunity.
In the meantime, Roger had been appointed a member of the Auroville Foundation Governing Board by the Ministry as “ Chief Architect ” (a conflict of interest that was hardly commented upon), while Kireet Joshi, who had been the principal contributor to the draft and creation of the Act of Parliament which gave birth to the Auroville Foundation, had been appointed as its Chairman; Kireet was a fervent admirer of Roger and even declared, when this new conflict became more acute and critical, having received the inner command to “follow Roger” – to serve him. The stakes were high and deeply determining: the original urge and movement, sustained and nourished through the years, to participate in a collaborative creation – Nature, man and the divine joining in a single common endeavour to welcome, receive and serve the Force of harmony and truth of the future -, would it now be compromised and compelled to submit to a loud and glamorous demonstration of the talents and prowess of privileged man, an imperious declaration of his perfectionism, a glorious posting of his beliefs, in this great wounded and afflicted world?
Must one be resigned to a purely esthetical creation, a minutely flaming perfection reducing Nature to a controlled and measured decorative offering and man to a disciplined robot gifted with some superior mode of existence?
Truth does not announce itself with the roll of drums.
Thus is our collective experience askew; have we then already realized our aim? Is this the example we wish to give, of the indispensable humility before the One?
And yet Roger, left to himself and his conscience, would not have been snared, even by his own creative enthusiasm; he was generous, a gatherer and charismatic inspiration always in movement, always attentive to the new forms to come, always loving beauty wherever it came from.
Groupisme is a virulent wound.
And so a day came when a decisive meeting took place; this time, the hall is in fact the old refectory of the Matrimandir workers, but it is enough since there are only two groups of people: the large table is reserved for the members of the Governing Board while the members of our administration and coordination team and a few others remain standing or perch themselves here and there. Kireet is speaking. He is a great orator and commands everyone‟s attention. The introduction is lengthy, but the act is brutal: he stretches his ar m and points his finger at me, “This man is the obstacle”. I am condemned and shot, right there, and they each and all have fired, all of these august figures, well respected and rightly esteemed in their respective domains, including the sweet Maharaja of Puri who later tries to console me by reminding me that, as the Bhagavat Gita says, it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice a truth to a greater truth. And soon enough we received the official orders signed by the Secretary to the Auroville Foundation. We were thanked and dismissed and legally replaced with better Aurovilians designated by the Authorities. A large part of the community had let itself be persuaded to accept this recourse, through a sustained campaign of defamation
and convenient formulas an d thus the “rules of the game” had been twisted without any major objection.
What we are witnessing today is but the logical continuation of this first interference with the tacit law of Auroville: the solidarity and the work of each and all of us to meet and integrate all the approaches, without ever relying to a power exterior to the experiment.
Are we not all Her children and has She not given us all the indications for us to find the way?
But on our side we must guard and nourish the faith, the trust and the urge towards the Truth right and vast and always marching on.
Would the possibility of a new beginning, of a renewed commitment, be given us?
Hypocrisy and manipulation hold sway in all public spheres of this world and the new technologies of “communication” for the moment only multiply and amplify their deleterious effects, while these same technological tools, put at the service of enlightened consciousnesses receptive to the Truth Consciousness could hasten the coming of a new creation and the healing of this aching world.
May we find and develop the rigor and care necessary to discipline ourselves as required by the Spirit of the Times, let us guard the flame alive and active, at Her service.
Divakar – Auroville – July 10, 2022.
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