On Plans and Priorities

One of the editors of the “Auroville News and Notes” had sent me a scolding, regarding this last piece, reminding me that contributions to the “Notes section” must not exceed 500 words; however I did not see the mail until after publication. For the next note I tried to remain brief, but barely succeeded! It appeared on 11-10-08. Reading this issue, I found that the Working Committee entirely ignored my short objection to their stipulating a time-limit for serving in an Auroville Service.

On Plans and Priorities:

It is a serious, knotty problem that is confronting us.
As predicaments go, it is an ancient, familiar acquaintance; every growing community comes to that shift whereby the original aims, however lofty, are overtaken or obscured by the seemingly incorrigible and irrepressible tide of ordinary measures and calculations.
To put it succinctly, it is the shift from ‘being’ to ‘having’.
So far – and that covers millennia – the response has always been an uneasy accommodation with the ‘realities of life’, a kind of mutual taming between the initial source of inspiration and the ever-acquisitive claims of the visionless creature, by means of some regulatory system.

That history has recorded innumerable instances of this dampening of the flame is of little comfort to the rawness of the wound here and now.
But perhaps our situation is endowed with a difference: there is a newness to it. It is fragile, no doubt, but it is there; and the fact that we experience that shift so early on our appointed trajectory of collective growth may itself guide us to seek together this new breath.

There are now officially about 2,000 of us ‘sojourning’ in Auroville. An integral part or aspect of our respective individual duties to the spirit of Auroville is to participate as consciously as we can to the creation of a township of harmonious living for up to 50,000 residents, which will be a model, not only in its guiding principles but as importantly in its methods of action, replicable anywhere upon earth for sustainable progress.
That, at such a relatively early stage, we are already nearly swamped in a maze of conflicting strictures and riddled with social inequities, is evidently reason enough to pause.

It seems that the right relation and balance between quality and quantity is the key to all enduring collective progress and that this crucial equilibrium is itself dynamic; it cannot just be arrived at and preserved intact, it must itself evolve.
Therefore it may not be productive, in terms of developing a city at the service of Truth, to push and rush for its material construction regardless of the human condition.
There is no evidence to indicate that built forms can conjure up the needed spirit, while there is ample evidence that the spirit can eventually permeate any forms.

It is clear that we need first to verify that we as a collective are sufficiently open to the spirit of Auroville so that it will itself inspire the forms that will further invoke it and help manifest it more and more.
The slash and burn approach may satisfy minor deities and even bring about some brief resounding success, but at the cost of bitter resentment and disengagement; the true spirit demands an integral offering. To be truly effective, the sacrifice must carefully observe ALL parameters.

A more sensible proposition might be to seek together for intermediate targets and identify together those unifying priorities that would mobilize and motivate everyone’s genuine support and participation.
What we absolutely need in this adventure is to know directly and without a doubt that the commitment of each of us is equally central and important, no matter who we are and what we hold in our hands at any given moment.
This is the essence of our communication and, without it, we are only gesticulating.


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