Letter to the GB chairman, Divine materialism

Nov 16, 2022 | Governing Board, Processes by-passed, Statements by the RA and the Working groups

Another letter sent to the chairman of the Governing Board following the meeting of Nov. 7th [read the event]

Shri RN Ravi
Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu
Chairman, Auroville Foundation
Raj Bhavan Chennai

Olivier Barot
Auroville 11.11.2022

Your Excellency,

As we have been asked to write to you about the way forward for Auroville in a positive and constructive way, I would like to say a few words about the organization of Auroville.

We do know for a long time here that the way Auroville has been organized in the last few decades didn’t correspond to the ideals we are seeking for and throughout all these years we did many researches and experiments about new ways like the studies about Prosperity, the Active Residents Assembly, the Citizen Assembly, Dream Weavers and many others.

But we are here in uncharted territories and everything needs to be discovered, invented, experimented and, as in any real adventure, mistakes and wanderings are bound to happen and when they come, they always come to teach us something.

But truly, we are looking for Something Else. We do not know what, we do not know how and we don’t want to pretend anything but we are all here seeking and aspiring to a New World, despite all our shortcomings.

Not a spiritual society, not a materialist society, as they are both opposite and exclusive to each others, but a third position which as been called Divine Materialism and which much reconcile these two opposite poles of existence into a more complete expression of life and evolution…

Today, as it stands at the centre of Auroville, Matrimandir can be seen as a good expression of our collective sadhana to manifest this Divine Materialism through Karma Yoga. But there is much more too… our schools, kitchens, forests, communities, farms… and all what has been done in the last 54 years with an urge to express perfection in matter.

This being said, it is clear that Mother had seen Auroville has being organized on her idea of Divine Anarchy, a society that is governed by the soul. The individual soul and the collective soul. This is the whole meaning of a Gnostic Society as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo in The Life Divine.

And this is why, as stated by the Mother in Her Dream, Auroville should be a place “where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme truth“.

These statements are profound and not easy to understand. What is this Supreme Truth, for instance? But fortunately, we have the great chance to have the recording of one of Sri Kireet Joshi’s talk about Self-Governance in Auroville, a talk in which he clearly explained the meaning of what the Mother envisaged as Divine Anarchy.

I would like to invite you, Sir, to read a short extract of this talk as it might be of crucial importance for the future re-organization of Auroville if we truly wish to do in the spirit of the Charter and the Dream:

Sri Kireet Joshi’s Talk – 19 July 2003 (extracts)

“When The Mother declared the Charter of Auroville in 1968, She declared it very clearly: “Auroville does not belong to anybody”. This was the underlined idea for proclaiming true self governance of Auroville. When She declared “to live in Auroville one must be a willing servitor of the Divine consciousness”, She defined what is self governance, true self governance of Auroville. It is soul governance, it is governance by the Divine. To declare that this Auroville has to be governed only by one authority, the authority of the truth, the authority of the Divine. And there is a true meaning of ” self governance”.

Now this proposition is completely new in the history of the world. Never was any group, any country, created with this declaration that this whole concept, this land, this experience is dedicated to the Divine and Divine alone. So, to my mind, the real conception of self governance is : Auroville governed by the Divine’s will, in which the Divine is recognized as an authority and, therefore, no other authority at all… This is the starting point.

Today we need urgently to prepare a procedure so that people from Auroville can take decisions freely even without the need of temporary and small intervention of the Governing Board in the future. Lets such a situation not arises. And let us therefore create such procedures by which we can have arrival and fulfilment of the Divine’s will.

Now many people say we are not ready for Divine’s will, we are still very ordinary. May answer is: this is a very superficial understanding of Auroville. I have seen hundreds of people in Auroville totally dedicated to the Divine’s consciousness. I have seen myself and I can tell you truly… even this morning I had a meeting with young people and they all have given to me their personal statement, and I am very happy to say that all of them are very happy to be in Auroville. This is a very great thing. When the youth of a society is happy with the society, all is well. All of them have written to me they are very happy to be in Auroville. It’s a very good finding, you might say. And this can come about only if the inner spirit is burning. Therefore if some people say, oh, we are not ready for it, I will say : no, please, you are not right. I will urge you, please, develop your procedures in such a way that you can discover the Divine’s will.

Our search must be to create such a system, or such a lack of system, such a lack of machinery—because machinery always blunts the life force—such a procedure, which is not a procedure, so that there is delicacy in the development of relationship of people—there is tact, flexibility, plasticity, swiftness and there is a possibility of variation of the system according to the situation. A machine cannot vary according to different circumstances but a machinery created by human beings dedicated to the Divine’s will can create a system by which it can vary according to the needs, according the circumstances, according to the people—and this task is given to us as a matter of experiment.

Sri Aurobindo wrote a very important essay in “The Ideal of Human Unity”: Inadequacy of the State idea. Now, remember, we are not to make a State when we make the Residents Assembly and its functioning. The State is an inadequate idea and we should not create a state. Auroville should be a LIVING BODY. And this is experiment and if this is not attempted, I would say we are doing nothing. If you are going to create the kind of machinery which every parliament is doing everywhere in the world then we are not making any experiment, we are not moving forward according to what we have to create.

I will read out to you the sentence that Sri Aurobindo has written, how the state normally acts and, therefore, by implication how we have to avoid it: “The State is bound to act crudely and in the mass; it is incapable of that free, harmonious and intelligently or instinctively varied action which is proper to organic growth. For the State is not an organism; it is a machinery, and it works like a machine, without tact, taste, delicacy or intuition. It tries to manufacture, but what humanity is here to do is to grow and create.” Sri Aurobindo, the Ideal of Human Unity.

I would like to say that all people should think about it, study, create such a procedure in Auroville that Divine’s will is manifested. I would like to say very clearly, I do not like when it is said that the Residents Assembly is the Authority. No. The Authority is only ONE in Auroville—the Divine. And do not say the Divine is some abstract idea, not at all. It was said in the Supreme Court by somebody that when The Mother declared the ‘Auroville belongs to nobody in particular but to humanity as a whole’, it was contended that this was only a platitude written by The Mother. It’s not true. It’s really meant.

Therefore how shall we make our procedure in such a way that the Divine’s will is manifested? But if you don’t do it we are not working for Auroville at all. There is only one authority, The Mother has said in the very first line of The Dream, there must be a place somewhere where nobody can claim authority except the Truth. And this is where we are. We have to do it. And I’m happy to say all this because I know that in Auroville there are hundreds of people who are very-very keen that this Ideal is realised. Therefore we are here for that purpose and nothing else. We don’t want anything short of it. How many people have come to me and told me this? Therefore if anybody says “Oh, this is not possible”, I will categorically say: this is not true. If you can’t do it, it means you haven’t made the effort. Actually Mother has said: “Do not attempt, succeed”. And I think we have to do it. And I
think we can do it.”

Sri Kireet Joshi

Today, at this important crossroad of our life, I can only agree with what Sri Kireet Joshi told us in 2003 and I would like to urge you to consider this possibility as an opening to a higher perspective for the present crisis.

Sincerely yours,
Olivier Barot