I have been bit by a few mosquitoes, the electricity in my room does not usually work and having long hair is not conducive to taking cold showers, but thus far India has been absolutely amazing! It is literally a breath of fresh air…Sooo relaxing. Even with all of the minor inconveniences taken into account, I have never felt so at ease.
I would describe Auroville and Pondicherry as a combination of the spirituality of Avatar and the village lifestyle of The Jungle Book with a childlike innocence and friendliness of Peter Pan. I love seeing groups of Indian women together dressed in their colorful saris. Occasionally you will see one walking, balancing a basket or something of the sort on their head without hands. There are cows and dogs everywhere and we even saw monkeys playing in the trees. The largest monkey advanced from the group to sit on the edge of the stone cliff to tell us to keep our distance.
Last night we went to a concert at Auroville’s Youth Center. If there was ever a place the Lost Boys from Peter Pan existed, this is it. The Youth Center was packed with Aurovillians and visitors for a concert of local bands. There are adult sized teeter-totters, giant swing sets, huge tables, a comfortable covered lounge, a kitchen, a stage for a band and ladders and ropes to climb up in the trees, all of which are centered around a blue, yellow, purple and white mosaic floor. It felt like I walked through a time warp back to the 60’s. They were serving pizza, mango bars, vegan cake and Kampuchea (fermented mushroom tea) to enjoy during the concert. Everyone watched, but I was surprised how little dancing or energy there was. It is possible we were staring in Footloose, because that didn’t stop Robin, Brian, and I from busting a few moves.
Yesterday morning, we went to the Last School in Auroville and the Mohanam Cultural Center in the afternoon. Deepti, a member of Auroville and teacher at the school spoke to us about Auroville and the spiritual history of India. While some people viewed everything she was saying as idealistic and kept an objective view, I was completely absorbed by the community she described.
She told us Auroville’s goal is to generate a spiritual collectivity that is based on brotherhood or the equality of the soul, where people, “take advantage of all discoveries from without and within.” Referring to the world today she said, “We don’t think we own air, but more and more we are beginning to think we own water.” She says that Auroville doesn’t belong to anyone and the material creations produced by the community are shared. Auroville and India in general are such relaxing places, that I can understand how easy it is to focus on your spiritual self.
The school she teaches at has a classroom that lets in so much light, I felt like it only had three walls. The walls were almost completely made of windows and the one opened into a green terrace with a large Bodhi tree, which is the tree Buddha sat under to reach enlightenment. The school was actually designed around the tree and the atmosphere mirrors the teaching method. The school emphasizes that there is no authority and that everyone learns from each other. This is based on the premise that Aurovillians thrive on self-education.
Deepti spoke of Darwinism saying that many people believe in evolution. She said why would we assume, that as imperfect, disharmonious creatures, we are finished evolving? Auroville believes that we are still evolving and therefore should strive for spiritual perfection. She says, “Most people who come to Auroville are very post-modern in thought. They don’t fit into a social category”, and that they are looking to escape the problems of the world so they come to Auroville to work on a model society.
Where she realizes this is a work in progress, and that each individual of the community is a work in progress, I still cannot help but admire the experimental community and hope that such a community becomes a framework for civilization in the future.