=1 "Auroville our School"
Auroville, Our School
The universe city of Auroville has sprung from the matrix of India's long philosophical tradition. The new city seeks to meld this remarkable body of spiritual and psychological insights with the most advanced technological treasures of the modern world. The laboratory for research and testing over the past twenty years of the innovations now projected in Auroville has been the international community of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. The Ashram itself has been conceived and sustained as a social exemplar of perpetual education, and within it the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education has been a resource of intensive educational endeavour.
Auroville is neither a tabula rasa nor a utopian dream but rather the focus of nearly half a century of hard-headed testing and warm-hearted aspiration.
Auroville is planned as an open, dynamic centre of learning and teaching, where, ideally, all residents are students as well as teachers. The basic economy of the town, the economic relations among its members, will not be a money economy, but an exchange of knowledge, and economy of teaching and learning. Even in the so-called service professions, the personnel will be members of the Planetary Service Centre either as teachers or as students. Banks and businesses will be partly run by students of banking and economics under the guidance of specialists; the civic centre will serve as a school of administration, planning and urbanism; most Aurovillians will eat in cafeterias managed by a school of catering; and so on.
In this new society education will lose its temporal limitations, and its spatial hard-edge frontiers. The whole community, the whole city, every building, every institution, will be dedicated to education and organized in such a way that it is open to all who want to learn and study its activities.
Everyone in Auroville will be engaged in the genesis of a new form of society, an open society as opposed to the closed society of the family, the tribe and the nation.
All the residents will be connected by the most modern means of communication (walkie-talkie, videophone, closed-circuit television etc.). These do not constitute luxury items but the nervous system of the society.
Auroville will experience its meeting places as social scintillae, places for sparks to foregather. There will be a forum and a theatre, of course... a recreational park... a creational plaza... an =1 center where this new society will see itself functioning while remaining in contact with the oneness of things. Each nexus will enrich the community's life while generating new forms of compassionate collaboration, exchange and communal joy.
Auroville will attempt the impossible. The dwellings are designed both to reinforce privacy and to maximize the individual's availability to Auroville as a social whole and to any groups within it (research, meditation, recreation, etc.) as well as providing direct access to teacher or computer.
Family bonds will no longer be either primitive and economic, or compulsively domestic. Each member of the family will have at the very least a self-contained studio unit and sufficient spatial plasticity to allow him to integrate or not with the family as he wishes. The individual will find his constitutional rights built into Auroville, and these will be reinforced by the gracious services of the housekeeping department, the laundry section and the restaurants.
No child will be obliged to live with his own family. He may choose second or third families dividing his week or month or year among them. Or he may indeed choose another family or group or an individual as first and relate to his genetic family as he wishes.
Thus the educational unit for the young will be the society itself – all of Auroville.
The whole city will be a school for those who are building it as well as for those who will live in it, for adults as well as for children. The education received in Auroville will not be the kind that we received in the past – a passing on of information – but above all it will be a learning in the art of living, of living together in an evolutionary, planetary, truly human society.
This society Sri Aurobindo has called ‘human unity’ but one may also call it a planetary or laser society. One thing is certain: it represents a state of consciousness which cannot be attained by external rules or even by a single inner great leap. It will be the result of a common, conscious and voluntary experience, a total education which will be synonymous with evolution itself. The community gathered up into Auroville will generate the education of change – that way of learning which is conscious transformation.
Auroville will not be a society organised by powers external to itself, whether a money economy, administrative regulations, or a constitution. It will be based on a power inherent in each human being, but one rarely activated: the power to fulfil oneself within a society, not against others but with others.
In line with this purpose, everyone must be urged to find his proper place and his true role, secure in his own person and contributing to the whole. Auroville will invite each of her citizens – and then provide what is required – to surpass himself, and then to do it again and again and again.
Each man or woman will be a king or queen in the sense that an individual, given the opportunity to become himself, becomes thereby a sovereign; or more appositely and mundanely, as each player in a football team becomes a monarch when the truth (the ball) is in his possession.
Here, then, instead of the long pyramidal chain of commandments which we have been accustomed to for longer than men can remember, from the pharaohs down to the last chain-gang boss shouting ‘heave-ho!’ we may have a society in which each has his royal place and says ‘heave-ho!’ to himself.
Auroville will be able to offer to each of its citizens his very own path, and the first thing which will disappear in such a system of education will be the system itself. That will be replaced by respect and by love. For education can no longer be mere instructions, but must be a way of being and of becoming essentially oneself.
Each child will have a much more important place than that which has previously been his on a school bench; the art of the educator will be to help him find his own start line, his first role in society and his reason for being in it. To find our true place, which will lead us to become really ourselves, is the best stimulation and the highest education we can receive. A society in which each member is in his true place is necessarily one of a golden age.
“The emerging mode of life promises to be so challenging, so vivid, so intense as to render the old life extremely dull. The end of ‘job’ means the end of the eight-hour day and the beginning of the twenty-four-hour day. Lifelong learning, lifelong creative change, is an exhilarating and dangerous endeavor that will require far more human intensity and courage than the old modes.”
George B. Leonard