News & Notes 631:Georges' gift to us

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631 icon.jpg   News & Notes 631
9 January 2016

Georges' gift to us

Georges by Paulette.jpg

Memories surface, fragments of reminiscences, autumn leaves reminding me the splendour of springtime...

Georges hailed from a remote village on the mountains of Southern France, a terrestrial paradise where wild horses roamed freely. As a child he used to walk for hours in the woods, along with his father and his little sister, picking up pebbles, leaves, grasses, flowers, anything that stroke their tender imagination; Their father chose the winner of the day. When a teenager Georges spent hours on the branch of a tree on the edge of a cliff, reading a book, lost to the world. His mother was a devoted Christian with strong social concerns, as in the Gospel – and his father a much idealistic communist. This was Georges’ initiation to life. As the old sadhaks told me at the Ashram, when one is well-born half of the work is done.

Pondering over the antinomies of the universe, young communist Georges chose philosophy as his university subject; but he walked out, unable to find in it the answer to the grand questions of existence. Confronted with the injustices of society, pursuing his quest he worked in a factory, while spending Sundays (the access was free) in museums, especially the Louvre, mesmerised by immortal masterpieces.

Dreaming of a just, humane society and a truer life, Georges was a 1968 offspring. He explored many paths, also in esoteric communities, making his own synthesis, with no other guru but his inner self; travelling widely, in haphazard ways; making a dignified living at the margin of a society whose goals he never shared. He repaired houses without charging, accepting whatever people gave. In recent years he was offered money and gifts, for which he had no attachment – always ready to give whatever he had to succour a needy being. Faithful to the principles by which he was brought up, he had no sense of social divide and always took side with the poor, the oppressed, and the discriminated one. In Auroville he was friend to the gardener, the worker, the villager; he shared the meals of the humbles and attended their weddings.

When he forwarded me photos of the idyllic surroundings where he grew up I asked Georges how he could leave behind so wondrous places and people; his reply was unwaveringly the same: he was happy, his 26 square metres flat with a tiny porch and garden, the green cycle he himself had painted were all he needed. He refused any maintenance and was so honest that, though one seat was free, the only time he shared a free taxi for seniors because of the deluge, he insisted paying his quota, as he was not yet 65.

Parsimony to him was art; his simple way of living, consistent with his beliefs, made of Georges a free happy bird. He wore clothes (gifted by his sister) till their very end; recycled objects and scraps of paper; used sparingly water and electricity; had no amma, doing himself the cleaning and washing, first thing in the morning. But he also was a widely read person on multifarious subjects and had a solid culture on art too. He was an avid reader of spiritual matters, Sri Aurobindo in particular, who often popped up in our discussions, with Georges referring to poignant texts. We sparred and fought and laughed.

He visited Auroville several years ago with his wife and daughter. When Georges returned in 2008, alone, it was for good. He was cogently aware of Auroville’s problems and took the burden upon himself; first as a silent observer at the AVC’s meetings, afterwards as a member of the Temporary Feedback Review Committee.

My last two postings in the Auronet – Sri Aurobindo on “Conditions for the coming of a spiritual age”, and the Mother on “A superior humanity... the higher regions of intelligence” – echoing our discussions, are a homage to the Georges I knew. He belonged to the realms the Mother describes and to them has returned. May his example shine on us.

Link to the photographs I took in 2011 of Georges looking after the Matrimandir lotus pond: