9 yrs ago i met a couple peeps who came from Auroville, and i was fascinated to learn of this experimental community where people were living in treehouses, trying to live without money, yadda yadda.
The town is named after Shri Aurobindo, an Indian guru, who along with The Mother, conceptualized and created Auroville.
Their charter explains it a lot better than i do:
- Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
- Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
- Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
- Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.
Jackie (my middle aged French tour guide) talked at length about the huge changes and growth which Auroville has seen in the last few decades.
About the people:
I asked him what percentage of people here are aware of the writings/teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. He looks at me in surprise. "100%! Why would anyone live here if they don't believe in these ideas? They might visit, but they would never stay."
What about the money? "I am French, i love cheese, so now they make cheese here, and i love it. But you must have money." He considers how people need to make a living, and money itself is not so bad. But his most poignent comment is about how before, Auroville was a few people who couldn't fathom the limits, eager to work, help, in any way possible. "We had no money, no motorcycles or cars, no houses. Now we have all of these things, but we are less happy."
Another gem: "Before there were two camps in Auroville, on opposite sides of town. People had to make the trek by bike or foot to reach the other camp. But if something happened, we all would know in one hour. We knew everything that was happening. Now we have motorcycles, phones, radio, internet. But if your neighbour dies, you might not learn it for days."
Anyhow we got on super well, and i got to milk him for details on taxation, population control, education, environmental issues, decision making policies, citizenship, life after Auroville, food production, trade, and much much more. All in all a very edjookayshnil time.
So is Auroville a...success? Hard to say. It does offer a lot, and Jackie comments that people who leave Auroville often return. It's not a bubble, nor does it try to be. But it is definitely a little microcosm of a town with unique problems and issues. The shared spiritual focus unites people in many ways, but sure doesn't eliminate differences in opinion. I do feel that Auroville is a powerful example to the world in many ways, though i am curious to find that i have no desire to join it. I kinda feel like we all live in the full-sized Auroville, though most of us don't know it.