An Integral Response to the Global Challenges
“Auroville: at last a place where one will only be able to think of the future.” – Mirra Alfassa, the Founder of Auroville
Founded in 1968, with a diameter of 5 km, nestled in South India, Auroville is a Universal Township of 50,000 in the making, with 3300 residents from 60 countries. It is perhaps the only place on Earth that “belongs to nobody in particular, but to humanity as a whole.” The only catch is to live in Auroville; one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
At an age when the world is going through environmental, mental health, social, and a deep spiritual crisis, Auroville is the city of dawn for the world in the making, where the spiritual essence of “Love and Oneness” is at the heart of life. Every aspect of life is attempted to be touched & transformed by the spiritual luster.
Let us look at it crisis by crisis.
The Economic & Environmental Crisis
On the one hand, we have an economic crisis – a consumerist culture of “use and throw” on the increase. Our disastrous linear financial system creates mammoth waste and does not feed into itself like a cycle, making it unsustainable. While there are attempts in the world to move towards cyclical economic systems, there is hardly any work to collectively address the root cause of the failing financial system that creates a massive environmental disaster, and that is where Auroville comes in. Not only does it work on creating cyclical economic outer strategies for sustainability and health, but also it is “…a place where the needs of the spirit and the care for progress would get precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking for pleasures and material enjoyments”(1).
That’s where it is not an ordinary solution. It is an integrated solution that shoots two central transformations the Earth needs with one arrow – the outer systemic changes and the profound inner transformation as a collective.
The Mental Health Crisis
Next, we have the rapidly degenerating mental health, with suicide rates increasing (4) and the UK even having a Ministry of Loneliness now (3). We need an integrated solution where social consciousness itself changes. The solution to mental health is mostly individual, but the increase in mental health problems is rampant. It is so deeply connected with the “disconnected” society of social media that we are creating that unless the fundamentals of the society itself change, it will be difficult to address the root cause truly. Mental health is a crisis at the cusp of inner health and the outer health of society at large.
In that context, Auroville offers to be the ‘new society from a new consciousness.’ It seeks to be “a place of peace, concord, and harmony where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities” (1). It “would be a place where human relationships, which are normally based almost exclusively on competition and strife, would be replaced by relationships of emulation in doing well, of collaboration and real brotherhood”(1).
The Social Crisis
Society reflects human consciousness. If society is imbalanced, unjust, and unharmonious, the human consciousness is ignorant, unenlightened, and unintegrated. Thus, to truly bring down the ideal of a more “balanced, just, harmonious and dynamic” society, we need to fundamentally transform the human consciousness – albeit not in isolation, but while creating and transforming dynamically every area of life.
That’s where in Auroville, profound social shifts are attempted, from the perspective of shifting the consciousness of the collective & not just working on making superficial outer changes.
- The Shift in Education:
- “In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their souls; education would be given not for passing examinations or obtaining certificates and posts but to enrich existing faculties and bring forth new ones.” (1)
- The Shift in Social Inequalities and Hierarchy
- “The bodily needs of each one would be equally provided for” (1)
- “Intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority would be expressed in the general organization not by an increase in the pleasures and powers of life but by increased duties and responsibilities.” (1)
- The Shift at Work:
- “In this place, titles and positions would be replaced by opportunities to serve and organize” (1)
- “There, work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole, which, for its part, would provide for each individual’s subsistence and sphere of action.” (1)
- The Shift in Finance:
- “For in this ideal place money would no longer be the sovereign lord; individual worth would have a far greater importance than that of material wealth and social standing.” (1)
And the most significant shift in the context of Auroville is the shift in personal property. All in the context of Auroville is collective property to be useful for the welfare of all. The money you put out of your inheritance or savings into a house does not legally belong to you. You are a steward, a trustee, not an owner.
Auroville: An Adventure, not An Utopia
It is a mistake to assume that Auroville is a Utopia. You will not find the great realization if you come with rose-tinted glasses or judgemental eyes. You are likely to say – ‘it is a place of harmony, but there is conflict!
But, my dear, it is not easy to transform humanity, and Auroville is a microcosm of society where all problems are being solved. Each of us reflects a difficulty, an impossibility, and a possibility toward a greater realization.
It is also a misconception that in Auroville – people who have run away from the world are living in peace, without making much effort, away from the world of problems! It is quite the opposite – it takes superhuman effort to be in Auroville. The issues one is usually unaware of show themselves strongly when one digs deeper. It is like – ignorance was bliss! Creating actual bliss on Earth is a massive task, and it takes all of one’s self – a sacred sacrifice for birthing the future of the Earth.
Auroville: The Realisation of a Great Ideal
Given the excellent task of building the City of Dawn, the City the Earth Needs, it is worthwhile to ask – how will such a city be built? Well, first and foremost, it will be made on intangible yet real ideals:
- Auroville will be the place of an unending education, constant progress, and a youth that never ages. (2)
- Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and within, Auroville will boldly spring toward future realizations. (2)
- Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual research for a living embodiment of actual human unity. (2)
Auroville is a live-in laboratory where all aspects of your life as a part of living research to build a new human being and a new society. In this laboratory, one is meant to experiment with all aspects of life – be it architecture, interior design, farming, renewable energy, road service, governance, economics, business and enterprise, education, health, and wellness, or any other imaginable field, and within that field (1) transform the consciousness that effectuates action, (2) change the rules of the game (3) move towards greater outer perfection.
Because Auroville is a spiritual city that embraces all aspects of life and is not an ashram, it gives humanity much-needed knowledge on how to lead life.
- If one is an architect, then how to make buildings out of sustainable materials that help create a harmonious living space and a soulful experience of life
- If one is a farmer, then learn how to commune with nature, listen to the trees, do natural and organic farming, and learn to intuitively cook and harness the wealth given by Mother Nature to eat and serve healthy,
- If one is into governance, learn how to grow beyond traditional pyramidal hierarchy and mechanical social democracies and experiment with hierarchies of concentric circles. More than anything else, allow the Truth to govern so that there is a Spiritual Hierarchy and Divine Anarchy.
Like this, Auroville is a field of experimentation in every field – that first by just the power of true experiment creates an impact in the world, and secondly, through workshops for and projects with the outside world, this laboratory shares its cutting-edge knowledge with the world – having inspired significant places in India and the world.
Divyanshi Chugh, Founder, CEO, Purnam Centre for Integrality – A Transformative Learning Community of Karmayogis, with ~1000 members and ~3500 friends. An Aurovilian.
If you would like to get involved with Auroville: Visit, Volunteer, Donate, or Attend Workshops, visit: https://auroville.org/page/what-you-can-do