August 09, 2006

Auroville is a mystery

The Origins of Auroville
‘Even if you don’t believe it, even if all the circumstances seem quite unfavourable, I KNOW THAT AUROVILLE WILL BE. It may take a hundred years, it may take a thousand years, but Auroville will be because it is DECREED.’ ( The Mother’s Agenda 21.9.1966)
In fact the Mother always spoke about Auroville as a place already existing, awaiting its time. She called it ‘city the earth needs’ and it is true that from earliest times the imagination of mankind has been haunted by the fabled names of lost cities or continents below the sea, places of spiritual power and material wealth. Myth and legend bear witness to this need of the human psyche for a place of transformation, for a sacred space where, as Joseph Campbell wrote: at any time the temporal walls may dissolve to reveal a wonder.
How far back must we go to find the true origins of Auroville? How long did this ‘dream’ lie dormant in the consciousness of the Mother? It was certainly there long before the foundation of the city in 1968. It was there before the first ever mention of the name; before the Mother reported her ‘dream’ to Surenranath Jauhar on the staircase leading to her room in the Ashram; even before her arrival in Pondicherry and her first meeting with Sri Aurobindo.
In the past there may have been attempts to manifest the ideal -how many we do not know. In conversation the Mother often referred to the ‘cosmic tradition’, a body of occult teachings transmitted by Max Theon, This enigmatic personage had revived a Society called the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, some of whose members attempted to found a spiritual community in America. The attempt was a failure. Nevertheless historians of the movement have made the connection with Auroville, even referring to it as ‘that other step-child of Theon’s - Auroville - founded by Mira Alfassa in 1968 to crown the success of the Pondicherry Ashram.’*
There are indications that the origins of Auroville, as a concept of the Mother, can be traced back to a remote past. On several occasions the Mother herself spoke of earlier incarnations in ancient Egypt. It is not surprising then that comparisons have been made between Auroville and the ‘city of the horizon’ built by the Amenhotep IV (Akenaton) in Upper Egypt around 1369-75 BC. This city was remarkable in its conception and had a profound effect upon human consciousness in its place and time. The old gods of Egypt and their elaborate rituals were abolished in favour of a form of worship of the sun’s disk seen as the symbol of life-giving energies that, unlike the old gods, were never represented in any human or animal shape. Like Auroville, Ahkenaton’s new city was dedicated to the service of Eternal Truth (Ma’ at).
Its long-buried remains came to light only in 1887, when a peasant woman accidentally stumbled upon 300 cuneiform tablets. (Coincidentally, this was the year of the unsuccessful attempt made by the Brotherhood of Luxor to found a spiritually orientated community in America.) Many people have been struck by the similarity between the Auroville Charter and an inscription discovered at Ahkenaton’s city: Here is the place that belongs to no prince, to no god. Nobody owns it.This is everybody’s place. The earth will find joy in it. Hearts will be happy in it.
More than three thousand years later, on February 7, 1968, The Mother defined the Charter of Auroville in strikingly similar terms when she wrote: Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future..’ In his book ‘The MotherGeorges Van Vrekhem quotes the words of a French teacher at the Ashram school; ‘In reply to this question (concerning Akhenaten) I had put to her, Mother let it clearly be understood that she had been Queen Tiy, the mother of Akhenaton... she specified that Akhenaton’s revolution was intended to reveal to the people of that time the unity of the Divine and his manifestation. This attempt, the Mother added, was premature, for the human mind was not yet ready for it. It had, however, to be undertaken in order to ensure the continuity of its existence on the mental plane.’ ...
Auroville is much more than the experiment in community living which the casual visitor sees. It is much more than the sum of its achievements up to the present. Its true origins are in the future as well as in the past, for it exists eternally in the Consciousness that embraces time and space. To this eternal dimension, to this vast potential for a transforming action ‘in the invisible’ we have as yet no access; we have not found the way. Sometimes we catch a glimpse when a little effort appears to produce results out of all proportion, just as Sri Aurobindo said that it would ‘in the hour of God’. We see a small group of young people from opposing nations plant trees for peace in Auroville and the Berlin wall comes down and the prospect of war retreats into the background of human affairs. We are reluctant to believe there could be any connection - surely life is more complicated than that? But what if the ‘complications’ are a veil of falsehood, a fake ‘reality’ to which we all, somehow, consent? What if a new light breaking upon the world is using us to build a new consciousness?
Auroville is a way of getting things done, a new way that has never been available before. So what does it mean to be an Aurovilian? What is it that the Mother saw so clearly in her vision and wanted people to discover for themselves? She gave so much freedom to those who chose to build this new city - she did not ask them to be philosophers or yogis or saints, or even to have read Sri Aurobindo. She did not require any special skills or talents. She did not impose any rules of conduct or obligatory creeds. The Truth that Auroville serves is ever in movement and cannot be bound by regulations, it leads us on to endless adventures of self-discovery - how beautiful it is to live this Truth that is ageless!
The guidance given by the Mother to those who wanted to be Aurovilians emphasised first of all the need for the inner discovery. ‘At the centre there is a being, free and vast and knowing, who awaits our discovery and who should become the active centre of our being and our life in Auroville.’ All other guidance given by the Mother centres itself about one crucial point: ‘the fulfilment of one’s desires bars the way to the inner discovery which can only be achieved in the peace and transparency of perfect disinterestedness.’ The conquest of desire - ‘to unite with the Divine one must have conquered in oneself the very possibility of desire’ is the key that opens the door to all the possibilities of the future. For ordinary human beings, it is perhaps the hardest task, for all are convinced of the validity of their desires.
In the absence of desires something happens: the possibility of contact with a Consciousness that is not limited or masked by our personal preferences. That consciousness is all-knowing and infinitely creative. The Mother brought it down to our human level and it is her legacy to Auroville.
Auroville is a mystery, and will remain so while our human mentality continues to prefer its endless debates, its preferred plans, its personal ambitions, to a simple action conceived in the mind’s silence and carried out with perfect sincerity in a spirit of goodwill. As the Mother never tired of reminding us: ‘La vraie chose et tellement simple’ - reality is so simple. Sonia Dyne (From a talk given at the Auromira Centre, London, on 23.4.2006)

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