SAIIER 2013:Summer Camp

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Educational Practices and Opportunities for Adults in Auroville
Summer Camp
Theme: "Effort for Progress"

“Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards further realisations.”- Auroville Charter

We may get a deeper understanding of what the Mother says, when we look into what she said in her message on 25th December, 1950:

“These people call themselves 'materialists' and they are apt to get agitated or irritated if yogic terms are used, so one must speak their language avoiding terms likely to shock them. But I have known in my life persons who call themselves 'materialists' and yet followed a much severer discipline than those claim to do yoga.
What we want is that humanity should progress whether it professes to lead a yogic life or not matters little, provided it makes the necessary effort for progress.”[1]

The children attending this camp go to outside schools and they do not have the opportunity to express themselves freely. While a moral or a religious teaching has a temporary effect, the psychic experience, the aspiration which rises up in flame to know and experience in freedom the natural phenomena leaves a lifelong imprint.

Effort for Progress requires an awareness of the present level and make an effort to go to the next higher level. The first step is to know oneself and master oneself. One should start with as high as possible an aim and a sincere aspiration to reach it.

The camp was held for 15 days from 1st May to 15th May, 2012 for about 30 campers. Prabhakaran and Mala coordinated the camp activities.

On the first day, the campers were given orientation on the present stage of evolution.

“There is an ascending evolution in nature which goes from the stone to the plant, from the plant to the animal, from the animal to the man. Because man is, for the moment, the last rung at the summit of the ascending evolution, he considers himself as the final stage in this ascension and believes there can be nothing on earth superior to him. In that he is mistaken. In his physical nature he is yet almost wholly an animal, a thinking and speaking animal, but still an animal in his material habits and instincts.”[2]

Sri Aurobindo came upon earth to teach men that man is only a transitional being living in a mental consciousness, but the possibility of acquiring a new consciousness, the Truth-consciousness. The campers have the immense privilege of getting acquainting with this aspect at a quite early life and see the life in an integral perspective.

The aspiration to know what consciousness is and the instruments of consciousness, like thoughts and observer of the thought, exercises in concentration were done along with the students. Then simple exercises were given for improving the mental, vital and physical instruments. The key is sincerity in whatever one does.

Then students observed how the one shakti or energy manifesting as electrical energy produces mechanical, magnetic, sound, light, touch, heat and other forms, thereby the oneness of energy in the most simple way. The same substance, say, water, changes from solid state (ice), liquid state (water), gaseous stage (vapour) with change in temperature.

This led to observation of the parts and planes of being. Always there was an interactive session with the guide, Varadharajan.

The psychic experience, which produced the mathematics genius Ramanujam, and Tiruvallavur's holistic approach to life, were some aspects that were noted. The students read short moral stories and formed themselves into groups to discuss what they learnt.

Muthukumari gave pranayama and eye care exercises, and an overview of herbal medicine and health care. Sudarshan spoke about water resource management, afforestation, and the world of birds. There was a lively discussion whether science is a blessings or a curse. The campers read about Tirumular, Vallalar Swami Ramalinga Adigalar and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and their approach to spirit and body. Velmurugan spoke Patanjali Yoga and about yama, niyamas and pranayama.

The campers went on an educational tour to Vadalur (Swami Ramalinga Adigalar), Sirkazhi (Arc Boat), Chidambaram (cosmic dancer Nataraja), and Tapovanam (Swami Gnananda Ashram).

On the final day, the campers recapitulated in a nutshell what they learnt new and how it helps their progress.

  1. Collected Works of The Mother (MCW), Vol. 4: Questions and Answers 1950-1951, p.7
  2. MCW, Vol. 12: On Education, p.116