Here the words bleed, the colour runs, the memories fade, the senses go dry.
Here I am remembering, reflecting.
Here I am retracing time.
Here I am bringing together my learnings, laying bare these threads.
Here I am trying to weave together experience and knowledge.
Deep questions were raised.
How many months now had this darkness threatened me?
Almost five months ago now, I was in a localised, self-contained, self-sustained, interconnected global community. An international city that has survived 50 years as of this February. An “experiment in human evolution” according to one of the elders who has been in Auroville since the beginning. The guru-grandma tells us “experimentation never ends in life”.
I would call the experimentation in Auroville a dare to discovery.
Here is a place that permits spiritual seeking, striving on a quest for unity.
Yet that darkness threatened the whole time I was there.
An ever-present turmoil, a distress in discovery.
I wondered what “state of unity” this utopia could offer. I questioned what narrative was being propagated here in this religion of non-religion. The elder told us, “faith is something that unites“, while religion divides. The formations of religion have long lines of history. For the guru-grandma there is “truth in every religion, but there is something that goes beyond“. The narrative Auroville presents is one free from the religious holes of the past, where there is a sense of freedom as the spiritual part of your being widens – as opposed to ‘narrowing’ or ‘dividing’ into these religious holes.
I was listening, opening, trying to understand
This was a generalised paint brush of history and religion.
A narrative to suit dissatisfied seekers:
Pick and select only parts of spirituality,
Take and shape your own “spiritual self”.
To me, this openness is ominous.
This freedom is false.
Everywhere we look, you don’t see anything in a fixed state. That, I suppose, is evolution. Everything is changing. But does that render religion obsolete? Maybe religion is an institution. Or maybe. Just maybe. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27). Maybe, just maybe. Religion isn’t about history. Religion isn’t about self-discovery. Religion isn’t about spirituality. Religion isn’t about me or you. Maybe. Religion is love in action. Religion is compassion. Religion is sanctification. Religion is being kept in the word, not the world. Religion is being in Christ, subject to God, not subject to constant change, continual evolution.
Reflections mid-Auroville experience:
I don’t feel at home, because this world is not my home. I agree with the wholeness they speak of here, but my ‘wholeness’ is only in Christ. I am one part of the body of Christ. I don’t feel whole here, because I don’t have that communion here. I don’t feel as though I am fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot pray, worship and read the word with my family. I cannot partake in the Eucharist. I feel stripped, deprived of the beauty and depth of my faith. I feel isolated, disconnected. The Lord has been so faithful and good despite this, reminding me that he is with me, that I am not alone, that he is a LIVING God, that I do not need to succumb to this fear of darkness and spiritual death.
Reflections post-visiting the guru-grandma elder:
She is not satisfied with religion. She has not encountered Jesus. She does not know of the personal relationship found in Christ, where we can cry out to God as Abba Father and freely ask. She does not see religion’s intimacy. She only sees the heart of man, with divisive qualities. Oh! If she could know the heart of God, then she would know true unity. Oh! If she could know Christ, then his blood would show her, his sacrifice would strike her … her spiritual eyes would see: communion with God is greater than our human understanding of unity.
BHARISHYATE :: “he will nourish”
Lord, Thou has willed and I execute
A new light breaks upon the earth
A new world is born
The things that were promised are fulfilled
Who is her Lord? She says there is no religion here, but we are sitting in a room with a Hindu god in the corner. This is a global community, yet there is a bias to the Indian tradition. There is a predominant Indian influence, in the food, in the clothing, in the music, in the cultural activities … in spirituality and philosophy. This is an international city, but here the East is elevated. Maybe this says something about whether we are ever able to escape our own bias. And I am not exempt, I bleed bias. My Westerm influence weighs me down.
A question was asked: what does Auroville have to teach the world?
The conversation was turned on us, the Australian visitors, as to how we would translate our experience to others.
I never answered the question, because I didn’t agree with the question itself. I have a different teacher.
I can listen. I can process. I can experience.
I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul.
I don’t want to gain experience and knowledge and learning and spiritual discovery,
and lose the one my soul loves.
and lose my true teacher,
the one who test my heart
I don’t want to lose his heart,
the place where there is true love and life and learning.
I want to ask what the Lord has to teach this world.
What does he have to teach Auroville?