On a sticky, humid, and hot Saturday afternoon the group sits in a circle blankly staring at one another, some contemplating NGO choices and others contemplating life choices. The suffocating silence is broken by Professor Talcott addressing us with a question, “What brought you to India over the middle of your winter break sweaty, hot, and tired?” A literal answer to his question would be to study sustainable development, but then you are confronted with defining sustainable development, and automatically his question is no longer a simple announcement but a reflective exercise over the past 11 days into sustainability, development, and Auroville; a vessel for these two concepts to blossom. For many Aurovillans Auroville has been a canvas, a space to create, experiment, fail, succeed, and repeat. With each visit to the different units you find it’s not a community of discovery but for discovery, an attempt at an alternative lifestyle.
On our first official day in Auroville we were introduced to Deepti, an Aurovillan citizen who has been a living part of the experience for 40 years, she provided insight into the vision of Auroville and presented us with this idea that everything done in Auroville or even outside of Auroville has to be done with consciousness and there will always be this ‘pressure of consciousness.’ This idea remained with me over the next two days and I became a bit obsessed, obsessed with how conscientious individuals have come together to intentionally create a community, obsessed with the consistent reflection and projection that must be utilized to ensure its existence, and obsessed with trying to figure where exactly had I landed. I then was plauged with the idea that the acknowledgement of consciousness is a painful state, you must steadily account for or monitor your actions because you understand that you yourself contribute to the ills of the earth. But the more Aurovillans we met the less I felt there were traces of a sadness but instead awareness. Aware that my actions affect others, aware that we must coexist, and aware that a conscious mind is an enlightened mind not saddened one, but within this enlightened state there is a greater responsibility.
I cannot say my obsession has subsided just simply halted while I try to process the immense amount of information presented to us. My desire is to continue to understand how enlightened conscious minds can aid in a sustainable future. What Auroville has presented to us within the past 11 days is that sustainability and development are complex issues that emerged within the confines of conditioned social structures and how we continue to develop will be determined by how we consciously address these broader issues that prevent many from beginning to imagine an alternative way of life.