The Issue Part I

This is an attempt to step back from the current scenarios in Auroville and try to understand the deeper roots of where our differences lie and where we are still united in our aspiration.

I am using the frame used by the Mother in the play she has written called The Ascent to Truth. This play is a short story of about 7 different types of people—a philanthropist,a pessimist,a scientist,an artist,3 students,2 lovers,an ascetic,and 2 aspirants– who all agree to discover the Truth and who agree that the Truth lies at the summit of a mountain that is nearby. They all agree to climb the mountain to discover the truth. As they climb the mountain each one of them stops the ascent at different stages of the climb till only 2 aspirants are left who reach the summit. Using this frame I see that we are all at different stages of our climb to reach our aspiration. I also see that there are a few clusters or groups of people who are at similar stages and who have at least temporarily reached a plateau and are in a state of rest where they have reached. These groups have come into conflict with those who are still in a state of movement in their aspiration and want to continue to move forward and upward in their journey to realise their aspiration. Let me straight away identify the groups that I see who have paused and are quite happy with the way things are and have joined with each other to resist change and the efforts of those who want to continue the building of the Township as per Mothers plan.

The 1st group that I see is one led by the Genius brothers. In this group Johnny is the iconic figure who represents a way of life that appeals to the idealism of many. As an observer from the outside what I see is a lifestyle that is simple, close to nature, hands-on and self-reliant, adventurous in exploring nature and probably many other qualities that I do not see. Johnny has had a strong impact as an educationist on the youth of Auroville in the late seventies onwards. Other members of the Genius brothers like Paul Blanchflower have also involved the youth in theatre productions which they all fondly remember. The annual play by the Genius brothers, the Christmas fair and the weekly pizza gathering at the YC, the Sunday dosa mornings with Johnny at Fertile are some of the elements that create a culture that unites the followers of this group. This group so far as I can see also has the Forest group as its supporters or sympathisers. This group has made it amply clear that they oppose the Galaxy plan given by the Mother for the township of Auroville. The placing of the YC kitchen on the crown road and the blocking of the development of the Crown road over the last 10 years has given this clear signal.

The 2nd group of people who I see have also reached a plateau and have settled down to a lifestyle that contributes to Auroville in some form of work which is important for Auroville and according to them that is sufficient expression of their aspiration. Most of them are now well off and outwardly follow a kind of bourgeois existence. To this group belong ex-followers of Satprem, of Kireet Joshi, and all those who have read and studied to some measure the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and tried to practice the yoga but have now reached a plateau and do not have the drive or the energy to take on the task of building the Auroville Township.They include unit holders,school teachers and I too identify myself with this group though I cannot say that I am satisfied with my very comfortable life and want to do all I can to take the building of Auroville forward.. Members of this group also run most of the administrative machinery of Auroville and thereby create an administration that is conducive to maintaining the status quo rather than working to manifest in a progressive manner the higher ideals enshrined in the Charter of Auroville.

The 3rd very identifiable group of Aurovilians are those from the neighbouring villages. Their life in Auroville is particularly difficult as the culture to which they belong is right next door and the pull of this culture on them is strong contradicting the pull of the Auroville culture on them. By and large I believe they are committed to the creation of the township as Mother wanted.

While these 3 groupings are visible there are also a large number of individuals who do not fall into any of these groups but may have sympathies with one or the other of them. The need for the use of JCB’s and the police for clearing the crown has shifted significantly the sympathies of this group of individuals towards those opposing the clearing of the Crown ways. In spite of trying to see the matter from different angles I am unable to decide how we could have dealt with the situation where a small group of Aurovilians have been obstructing the clearance of the Crown Way in spite of so many discussions and in spite of so many years having been passed in this delay. The methodology used by the Aurovilians to block the work amounts to moral violence. According to the Mother this kind of violence is even worse than physical violence. If anybody has a suggestion of how we can continue together without such moral aggression I would really like to hear that. I have not been able to come up with any other way, knowing well of other instances of deliberate aggression by Aurovilians on other Aurovilians based on their belief system,again a plateau.

It may be mentioned here that all those who are blocking the clearing of the Crown ways never admit that that is their intention. Their statements always are,” we are for the galaxy concept BUT…….”,We are for the master plan BUT……” .This BUT is an invitation to endless talk and no action.

I would like to come back to the larger issue that is thrown up by this conflict. If one uses the frame that I have used then the issue simply is whether those who have reached some sort of a plateau in the pursuit of their aspiration can hold back those who want to continue the journey and work towards the manifestation of the project of Auroville as defined by the Mother. At my own level of consciousness I would say that certainly we cannot block the energies of those who want to continue on the path simply because some have decided not to continue. It is possible that the Mother has a different intention. I cannot say anything about that but have faith that she will do what needs to be done.

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