Day #78 Auroville, city of consciousness
Walking into the Matrimandir’s main inner chamber we could sense that this building was indeed the pinnacle of the Mother’s futuristic vision for Auroville. We had just received a 45min prep talk as to what we were about to see and we couldn’t hold our curiosity any longer. From the outside, the Matrimandir is a huge spherical structure covered with golden discs that seems to be suspended in the air. As we got closer however, we noticed it is supported by four pillars and that it has a large bed of marbled lotus petals beneath it giving way to 12 external meditation chambers around. Everything seemed to be thought to the detail, everything had a meaning. As we walked into this large structure barefoot, we were all silently asked to put on a pair of long white socks before going any further. Ant and I couldn’t help but exchange looks as we felt in a real-life sci-fi movie. We were then guided through a spiralling white and furry pathway that did all the circumference of the inside of the Matrimandir. There was barely any light and it felt we were in a spaceship. When we got to the top and accessed the main chamber it was all made of white marble. There were some white pillows on the floor inviting us to meditate in silence. Under 2 minutes, around 150 people were sitting in an orderly fashion around the centre of this dark room which contained the most mysterious object. The centre of the chamber housed a large crystal orb that suffused a beam of light around the space. It was the only lighting in the room. Somehow, the object captured a ray of sunlight from a tiny hole in the ceiling and had it pass all the way through the centre of the room and into the crystal orb. The more I would look into it, the more I would get lost in this odd and magical vision. Later, I would learn that this ray of sunlight went through the centre of this room, through the Matrimandir itself and all the way down into the bed of lotus petals just under the centre of the building!
We had planned to spend 10 days in a farm close to Auroville that we found via Workaway. As we got to the farm however, we quickly realised the conditions were very different than what we signed up for. The farm looked rather abandoned, our host didn't sleep there, recent rains had broken down the electric and water system and to our unpleasant surprise they were having a huge rat problem. This is no exaggeration as in the first night we slept in a small room, stinking of what I later realised was rat pee. We couldn’t sleep the whole night as we were hiding under our covers and mosquito net, watching and listening to the rats eating all they could find just half a meter away from us. We decided to leave that place on the next morning along with Romina, the other Mexican volunteer who was there with us. This is when we found Buddha Garden. An horticulture farm where we would offer 300 rupees per day each (3,7euros) and volunteer every morning from 6am to 9am in exchange for a place to sleep and a large local breakfast. We would then have the rest of the day for us which was perfect as we were curious to explore all of what Auroville had to offer.
Auroville had a positive vibe in general. But more than its positive vibe, it took us a few days to get accustomed to what it represents exactly as it also looks a bit odd at first. Auroville was created in 1968 by a French yogi to whom they call “the Mother”. It is an international community that is dedicated to peace, sustainability and “divine consciousness”. It is a place that the Mother decided to build at the brink of the Cold War, at a time where she would see no other solution for humanity but to build an universal, non-religious, cash-free and compassionate township. This became her mission and along with her came many people from around the globe. The first thing you learn and experience once you get there is that Auroville is not part of India. In fact, there are special visas for Auroville, special laws that the Indian Government issued that apply if you wish to become an Aurovillian. Auroville was created to be a community for the world. Today, it holds around 2500 residents of 52 nationalities. As you ride through Auroville, you see as many foreigners as Indians in fact. According to the Mother’s vision, Auroville would become a place where people searching for inner peace and transformation would come. A place where they would focus on their own self-development and creative expression so they could then build a more sustainable and compassionate future. This is why Auroville became the centre of many projects such as organic farming, water conservation, sustainable building, renewable energy, handicrafts production, alternative therapies and yoga. People focus on their spirituality above all else as a vehicle for global peace. On the days we were there we had plenty of workshops to attend or places to visit. We were happy to go to sound baths, try new therapies, challenge ourselves in aerial yoga, hearing talks on health, visit innovative permaculture farms and even spirulina farms. It was a true fountain of inspiration.
Nevertheless, we couldn’t help but feel that Auroville is a difficult model to replicate and that this community lives beyond the reality of the world. It wasn't until our visit to the Matrimandir that I fully understood what Auroville's real aim is. They hope to evoke a divine consciousness and awareness to the current world situation that they believe cannot go on for much longer. They wish to inspire people to take that consciousness with them to their home and apply it in their own way. A type of ripple effect above all at a spiritual level. Personally, I thought it was fascinating to see how the “experience” of Auroville attracts so many people from around the globe which, I find serves as a living proof that there needs to be a paradigm shift in the world.
Our stay at the Buddha Garden was the perfect place to balance out those expansive experiences in Auroville. It was a safe space for us to rest and ground ourselves by helping in the farm. In fact, our mornings at the Buddha Garden turned out to be very intense. We would work hard under the rising sun, along with 6 or 8 other volunteers, mostly weeding and preparing the beds for planting all types of vegetables, herbs or fruit trees. We occasionally had the chance to harvest some arugula, eggplants, lady fingers or even peppers. Weeding could easily become boring but instead I would use it as a cleaning meditation. I would imagine the garden to be my mind and all the weeds to be my negative or not so kind thoughts and emotions. Ripping them out wasn’t enough, instead I had to take the time to go to the root. And this, just as meditation, couldn’t be a 1 day job. It required constant care and attention as weeds might grow anytime if we are not diligent with our “weeding”. Also, I imagined weeding and preparing the beds for new seeds meant I was letting go of old feelings, fears and thoughts that no longer served me and creating space for something new and beautiful to flourish. Antonio on the other hand, was pleased to get back to gardening not just as a physical outlet but because it reminded him of what he would do with his grandmother as a child. It came rather intuitively to him and he soon became Rajan’s, the resident farmer, expert on the field :) . We both had our way of interpreting this experience and at the end of the day we were both happy to be working and contributing to this special project in nature. It was fun learning more about it and by the looks of it, we were both good workers too because Rajan wanted to do a bonfire for us on our last night along with the other volunteers which, we thought was really nice!
We are heading to the lost Andaman Islands next. Lets hope we do not encounter any saltwater crocodiles!!