Ritam "Auroville Education and Society"

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August 2003

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Auroville Education and Society

By Jean-Yves

Schools are often presented as places where you get educated, but educated to what? Mainly to the spirit, values, systems of authority and methods of the society they belong to; in that sense, they are ‘instruments of socialisation’ (among others): they prepare the youth to fit in the social order where they are going to live, to adopt the rules and codes that run it. This social function designs their program and method and school itself is a reflection of society. When we speak of Auroville’s schools, we tend to think that they should transmit something of Aurovilian values, but they can do it only as far as these values are those actually at work in our collective life, embodied by it. In many domains, Auroville is just in between two worlds, the old one (where we have been born and which still moulds many of our attitudes) being still believed in, and the new one, not fully trusted because not really possessed in consciousness. But let’s dream of what an education derived from the Auroville Charter would be and we will see that it is one of the most attractive one can imagine for the world of today.

The most outward aspect of the Charter which is more used to present Auroville, its conclusion so to say, is the last article:

Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.

True human unity does not come about by melting all the differences in the same pot, but on the contrary by finding how the diversity of human cultures can blossom when nurtured by a living sense of unity. This is possible only if we develop a synthetic culture, the habit of finding how what seems so different, sometimes so divergent, can indeed be combined in a rich complexity. As Mother said, a complex unity is the very spirit of Auroville. This skill in dealing with complexity with its underlying law of unity would be the main feature of Auroville’s education. The students would be trained in widening and deepening their thought in order to cultivate a synthetic method without which neither Auroville nor human unity are possible.

But how can we develop such a program in our schools if the Aurovilian society still clings to the exclusive way of imposing the truth of one over the others? Synthesis here is made somehow unreal and appears only as vain ornament of the intellect without any organizing power. This issue is directly connected with the way we organise our collective life and our dealing with power. In a utilitarian society, where everything can be compromised, some sort of constantly bargained harmony is possible. But in a highly idealistic society – and what is man if he renounces his idealism? – the occasions of conflicts multiply, for nobody is ready to give up what seems essential, which is that part of the total truth one holds and stands for as one’s own path of dedication and progress. So aspiring at human unity may very well result in a greater difficulty to harmonise a living variety of conflicting ideals and forces. The only way out of the difficulty is to go beyond, towards a synthetic capacity which includes and harmonises, thus finding for each thing its right place. The actual capacity to harmonise life with a synthetic thought would replace the competitive system of democracy where organized minorities capture apparent majorities to impose its view to the whole. Auroville society has to value harmonization through synthesis if synthesis and harmony are to be valued by our youth.

But human unity is not only through space, it is also through time, and that is what the third article is about:

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 realizations.

Before going to the next step of our evolution, we have to gather in ourselves the past experience of humanity, understand what it has represented and attempted and see how it prolongs itself dynamically into the future. We must feel this vast human adventure carrying us towards new accomplishments. There is no history but the history of consciousness and its different aspects through time and space and we need all of them for the Auroville adventure but also if we have to live in a world reconciled with itself. Each student would be invited to rediscover these cultures in himself, for they have all developed something he needs for an integral development. But the story of the universe has not started with human history and it is evolution itself which will be the continuous subject of knowledge: how organized matter came out of the original fragmentation, how the energy it contained became more apparent in the movements of life, then how energy released more and more consciousness through its operations until a conscious mind emerged and experimented its possibilities through human history. Then would we truly become the children of evolution, fully gathered and ready for the next step. Reconciling ourselves with our past is the same thing as uniting the within and the without for it is in the most remote past of Vedic times that we find the beginning of what we want to achieve now: a rehabilitation of the earth in the light and power of the spirit.

But beyond or underlying the program, there is the movement of self-education itself, as expressed in the third article of the Charter:

Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.

It points to a new paradigm in our collective life as well as to a more central secret of our individual one. A progress-oriented rather than a satisfaction-oriented society would reorganize our economy and polity in a collective where work is not anymore the tribute we have to pay in order to get the means of access to as much satisfaction as we can, but the field of our self-discovery and becoming; where political life is not organized by a mechanism aiming at decision-making automatically applied but becomes essentially a learning process by which we discover how we can harmonise our emerging complexity. But how can we teach this in our schools if we have not made of our life a collective learning process?

But this article implies also a certain way of living for the individual. The very aim of the human species is to progress endlessly, which means to renounce constantly what we have become in order to become something new. It is here that freedom is required if we want each one to discover one’s own truth beyond conventions and social roles. From here came the definition of the Free Progress method: the only way to learn how to be free is to be given this freedom and to learn how to use it, to learn that it is not the license of the ego but the respect of the illimitable sovereignty and dignity of each soul and the condition of its development. In fact, in an Auroville education, this would be the leitmotiv and implicit message of our all our activities and this would be possible only if carried by the same process in the society: each service and unit is to be thought of as a place of constant progress and unending education, the real wealth that we would increase, consciousness.

The central key to progress and unity is given by the first article of the Charter:

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.

This place where we live, learn and progress is not ours. It is offered to a greater consciousness, to its birth and growth in our humanity: we are only the stewards of the things we are given for a conscious use. It is the very method to progress for it is by offering one’s energy to a greater consciousness that we create the path of becoming, as the ancient rishis had discovered, thus opening the human path. It is also the key to human unity since it is that which is equally present in all and working out its evolution in everyone. It is the leverage that can effectuate all the aims expressed by the Charter, its most dynamic power of effectuation, without which all the rest will remain an idealistic dream. It is this way of growing, of becoming more and more the aspiring soul within by offering what we are to what we want to become, which has to invade the whole space of Auroville, so that the dream of ‘No School’ can be achieved, when the school, defined as our home of progress, is everywhere and all the time for each one of us.