Monday, April 23, 2007

The Vedic seers identified four different layers or levels of consciousness which determine how one relates to one's society

Exploring our differences: a round table discussion - Alan
Seven Aurovilians explore the effects of cultural conditioning to see if there are new ways of experiencing our diversity. Shankar is the headmaster of New Creation School . Suryagandhi is an executive of the Auroville Dental Service. Both were born locally. Priya, who works for Auroville Today, was born in Pondicherry but studied and worked for 10 years in the U.S. , while Thulasi who works at Matrimandir is a Tamil from Sri Lanka . Bhavana, who originally came from the U.S. and Aurelio, who is Austrian, have worked closely with the villagers on various projects for many years. Alan, who also works for Auroville Today, comes from England ...
Bhavana is disturbed by simplistic explanations which reduce everything to dualities, to Western versus Tamil culture. “When Shankar was shocked by the plain-speaking, I've had exactly the same experience with French people in Auroville! So there are real differences within and between Western cultures too. And even in the villages there are all these different groupings all of which have different points of view. So I think that rather than focussing on differences between cultures, it makes more sense to look at the different levels of consciousness that exist within all cultures.”
Sri Aurobindo, she explains, said the Vedic seers identified four different layers or levels of consciousness which determine how one relates to one's society. The first layer is where your consciousness is limited to yourself and mere survival. In this layer you will do what you are told, you will need incentives not to go to sleep, and your values will be obedience, loyalty and hard work. The next layer is where the consciousness has widened a little so that communication is valued and there is awareness that if certain things are put together it will increase their value and the product can be traded. Here the ‘we' widens to include the whole clan, but the motivation is still quite selfish. The next, very thin layer comprehends the whole culture and tries to work out systems and laws so that the poor are protected and the strongest do not always have their way. Finally there's the thinnest, top layer which includes the teachers, priests, intellectuals and truth-seekers, whose role is to advise, guide and inspire.
“I find this is analysis very helpful because when I understand which layer an individual comes from it makes it much easier for me to understand what motivates them and, in my capacity as a social worker, to help them achieve the goals that are important for them. It's also important to realize that there's a lot of good about the level of social consciousness where there are clear laws laid down by the elders or by religion: for people who need security, laws bring great peace. Yet we also know that these laws can be stifling for those who aspire for something else. So we need to develop the subtlety of mind which sees this, which has compassion for those who need security as well as for the rebels who are going to break the conventions in order to find out who they really are.”
“If Auroville was a community, like one big family,” says Suryagandhi, “we could talk everything through and begin to understand our differences. But we're not yet there.” “I think dialogue is very important to increase awareness,” adds Aurelio, “because only through dialogue can there be a higher synthesis. At the same time, many Aurovilians seem to feel that they do not need to be concerned with issues like basic human rights and fairness because Auroville has gone beyond this, but they are wrong: we are merely suppressing issues. We need to be careful now because in the villages a situation is building up. The young people have changed, their values are derived from television now rather than the Mahabharata, they are more aggressive, and if we don't work with them on understanding our differences we will have to face cross-cultural situations similar to other places in the world.”
“I think what Sri Aurobindo and Mother are calling for," concludes Bhavana, "are people who understand and have compassion for the values of all the different levels in society while having an ongoing sense of evolution. That is the new consciousness that will make us into a true community.” Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > April 2007 Current issue Archive copies The Auroville Experience

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