Re: Auroville, The City of Dawn is alive and well
by adam pogioli on Thu 10 Jul 2008 11:29 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Does anyone have thoughts on the recent controversy surrounding Auroville and the BBC piece? It brings up interesting issues about the nature of utopian communities, Aurobindo's vision of the future, and the realities of global culture. I was surprised that it hasn't been mentioned by anyone yet.
Admittedly it is a thorny subject, or maybe it seems like a tabloid interest. But for many people it might throw into question the ideas and forces that Aurobindo and the Mother put into motion. It is hard enough to get a fair hearing for spiritual ideas these days when so many spiritual figures have less than ideal reputations and/or people connected to them. Aurobindo seemed to be relatively free from that. And while it may not seem fair to associate with him the behavior of followers of his so many years after his death, some people with a casual acquaintance with his ideas might see any association of Auroville with elitism and exploitation as symptomatic of his ideas and their connection with beliefs about power and authority.
Any deeper understanding of his thought should dismiss this association in my opinion, but it seems harder and harder these days to give anything resembling the guru principle a fair hearing in the skeptical West. I am continually amazed by this website's devotion to making Aurobindo's ideas more in keeping with the times; and so I thought it relevant to bring this matter up, if anyone is interested. Thank you.
Reply by RY Deshpande on Fri 11 Jul 2008 05:18 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Very perceptive comment and needs an authentic response, particularly from somebody belonging to Auroville. May I expect it to happen? and thanks. RYD
Reply by Rich on Fri 11 Jul 2008 09:09 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Here is a link to the BBC Broadcast: auroville http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/7413982.stm
Reply by adam pogioli on Sat 12 Jul 2008 01:43 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
While I certainly would appreciate a response from an Auroville resident, this event has brought up some questions I deal with when ever I try to explain Sri Aurobindo to someone in a way that doesn't sound ignorant of various post-structuralist critiques of power. While I have no doubts that Sri Aurobindo's philosophy is certainly compatible and aware of the dangers of simplistic notions of "development", I sometimes question the language he uses, and the consequences those ideas have when translated not just into individual evolution, but more sensitively, communities with a utopian aim. While I may have an open, evolving way of interpreting what forces are Divine in myself, and what are lower impulses in need of sublimation, transformation, (or ??appropriation??), what happens when I form a community based on these ideas?
Aurobindo's ideas are so nuanced that it seems like every possible wrong interpretation has been anticipated and explained by him. Yet how many people really hear that subtlety. The bare bones of his philosophy are easily appropriated into systems like Ken Wilber's, where hierarchy is much less critically analyzed, and one can see what kind of community that creates. Wilber's Integral Institute for example, despite it's integral aims, seems to have fallen victim to the mirage of an easily determined and fixed notion of value; in fact they seemed intoxicated by it. While Aurobindo's ideas are so much more organic than any fixed grid of assigning value, there still lurches this notion of an externally determined value inherent in the universe, that taken at face value can easily breed elitism, cultism, and other kinds of blindness to the Other. So I wonder.... how might we best develop a community or vision for the future without having a pre-determined value we interpret everything around, yet still have a leader, a vision or attitude that can lend power to our humble appreciation of the indeterminate (or perhaps infinitely determinate) value of the Self and Other?
Every person, but especially a community, needs a vision, no matter how flexible it might be. But perhaps Sri Aurobindo's vision could serve us better conceived as one line of development in a multi-dimensional universe, as a beautiful example of a certain complex of ideas developed into a relatively high level of intensity and coherence. Perhaps taking it less literally can open up more doors for us to find a collective vision that is less bound to old linear notions of time, development and relation, and more about the value we produce through the always creative encounter with each other.
Reply by rakesh on Sat 12 Jul 2008 11:16 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
I cannot understand why it took someone to be expelled from Auroville when they have been caught in 2002 and then after 2 years in 2004 was expelled. This seriously jeopardizes the integrity of the spiritual town.
I have also read the pondicherry has become a destination for cheap liquor and vacation for foreigners just like sri lanka where they can indulge in whatever they want to. The police cannot protect our citizens it is better to depend on an NGO to help go to the court.
i guess Aurovillians should take such incidents very seriously and the problems of the society are bound to come into Auroville and they have to take suitable measures to curb any person doing it. We are not so spiritual not to deal with such incidents. It is a shame that poor people are being victimized and the spiritual people do not want to take action but hide it under the carpet. BBC has done a great job.