A Personal Note from a Recidivist
Reading this note of refusal, I felt: “alright, this road too has come to an end…”
I wrote back, briefly, to ask for the courtesy of a signed clarification, observing that the reasons for this censorship were unclear to me, since I had not attacked anyone personally.
On Tuesday the 6th of January 2009, I accessed again my e-mail and found two notes of reply; the first one an indignant and plainly hostile rebuttal, signed by Pascal, writing that I knew very well who were the editors and there was thus no question of courtesy and that, no matter what I said, my note would not be published in that form; the second note, also signed by Pascal, basically blamed me for trying to settle scores, just as the rumor is circulating of an impending change of management at Matrimandir, and advising me not to stir up the past and revive the pain that many had to go through, himself included, as then others could also revive their own grudges and resentments at what our team had “done” and none of this would serve any purpose… He maintained his refusal to publish my note.
I hesitated for a moment; should I simply leave it at that? Should I announce my decision not to contribute any more? Should I keep it open? Should I try and correct my text in such a way as not to offend those “sensibilities”? But Pascal’s note emphasized a definite hostility towards me, as if he had barely tolerated my contributions all these months and had now found his chance to block me…
I wondered too: perhaps he is right and I have only been driving towards that point of being able “to settle scores”?
But the whole point of my note and reflection on justice was different; only, with such ingrained mistrust towards me, he could simply not see it or else he could not believe it genuine.
Finally I opted for a fairly short answer to say that really I had not been sure who had sent the first note of refusal, as I had only recently got another scolding from Anne Marie about the length of my text; then that, although he may not believe it, I had not known of this rumor of an imminent change of management at Matrimandir until after I had written the text. - which is all true. Then I wrote that my concern had been to ask for an evaluation of our relationship with the official representatives as a result of having at least once sought their intervention in our internal affairs and forfeited our duty to reach for a living synthesis of the differing viewpoints. I added that I did not suppose I could make him question his own conviction of acting rightly in censoring my text, which he surely shared with some, but that this society he and they were intent on building which needed to practice such censorship was not appealing to others… This is more or less exactly what I wrote directly on the screen, but I could not print it as Jean Yves’s printer is still out of order.
There. Is this – it probably is – the last chance I had to contribute something of myself, of my sadhana, of my aspiration, to the collective, at least in this open manner?
The sort of process of resolution which took place every time I prepared one of these notes was not low, nor was it casual; it was really, I believe, a giving of oneself. I know at least a few people have felt it and, in that sense, I have no complaints.
Perhaps I shall find another way to contribute, serving soup at the collective kitchen, or making decorated cards for everybody…?
Aum Namo Bhagavate, Douce Mère.
- January 13, 2009: Days have passed; I had left the matter to rest and it was even quite comfortable to shift the attention away from this regular writing and to be content with the daily work, which is sufficient. But, gradually, I saw that the process of definition or formulation was arising again and that there was a sense in me that the points I had been trying to make were valid and needed to be reflected upon and also that this manner of contributing to the collective was meaningful and it was a way for me to stand straight.
A new note started to write itself, bits by bits, meaning after meaning, as it usually does, like small facets of a jewel that in turn catch the ambient light, quietly, until it orders itself into a vibrant crystal; at that stage, it is still distant, as if wrapped in a veil and, till I sit with a pen and paper and write first words, it does not reveal itself fully.
On Sunday evening, the 11th, I was in Puducherry, seated facing the ocean; everything was calm; the movement rose to begin drafting and the new note, slowly, like a birth, came out.
What interested me was the relief and the clean gratitude I then felt. This was right. The place I was sitting in is special: I have named it “Brihat”, for “Vast”, as in the ancient mantra “Satyam Ritam Brihat”, the True, the Just and Right, the Vast.
The next day I wrote it in clear, making a few corrections.
And today I e-mailed it to the editors of the “Auroville News and Notes”.
I enter it now, whether or not it is eventually published, which I shall not know till the 19th, after the Pongal festival, as the printing and distribution of the next issue will be delayed by it, unless of course Pascal, the editor, writes back within a day or two. If this note is also refused, this will be the end of this attempt and thus of this document as well.
- “A Personal Note from a Recidivist:
Recently, the musings which I had been contributing in the “AV News and Notes” came to a halt. The latest of these musings, which dwelt on the theme of shared collective justice, did not make it into the new year, having elicited the wrathful censorship of the editor, who judged that I was out to settle scores and must be prevented from stirring up a past that had brought him and others already enough pain.
I am sure he did his best and I thank him.
Thereupon I took my course of self-examination and it then seemed likely that I would hence remain silent.
However, there is a hitch! Let me explain…
From the first, my purpose in contributing in this fashion has been to call for and encourage the open expression of matured viewpoints; but it is slow in coming!
There seems to be a general wariness to disturb the status-quo and be seen as questioning anything or troubling the hard-earned public harmony.
And there ensues a sort of passive complacency in the face of an increasing number of signs and symptoms of a loss of spirit, a loss of inner meaning and a loss of respect.
Many of us choose to ignore it and concentrate on what they can do where they are, and this is legitimate. Indeed, we have outgrown the phase of endless shouting matches and sterile repetitive rhetorics and we are perhaps sobered, less ambitious, less arrogant and more ‘realist’.
But to be here in Auroville together and not to share enough flame seems too high a price for us all to pay for past excesses…
I maintain that every issue must be openly addressed and that no taboo must be condoned in this adventure.
But I also maintain that we absolutely need to develop the ethical sense which is the carrier and the first instrument in us of the Spirit of Auroville.
I maintain that unethical actions and choices taken by anyone of us or any group formation in our midst breed multiple effects which affect all of us in our progress.
But we have to be clear on our ethics, which are not shallow morals but living aids and guardians of this progress we are here to make.
It is of course, for instance, unethical for us to utter a lie, simply because it is a betrayal of the inner consciousness which is to govern Auroville.
And, learning to rely on the guidance of this ethical sense, one finds that it is also unethical, for us, to deny the necessity of arriving together at higher and wider synthesises and to prefer exclusivism and emotional judgment and rejection of views and approaches differing from ours, even though they arise and are born from the same source. It is unethical because it shuts us off from the unknown we are to explore, instead of further cultivating what is already known.
It is unethical for us to call for ordinary means, powers and structures to resolve our given difficulties, simply because it will eventually deprive us all of the shared discovery of the new means and resolutions we have come to seek.
And it is my view that the population of Auroville cannot and must not grow until we have secured among those already present this ethical sense, which can then be communicated directly, through life itself, rather than through a mountain of regulations – since there is certainly no need in the world for another pilfering of the Grace…!
However I must also record here that, once I had sent it, I felt uneasy, unquiet and almost upset; this is a known phenomenon for me, which I tend to attribute to the backlash such statements as I am making automatically trigger in the general atmosphere… Let us see…!
(Note written a few days later)
The next day, January 14th, I still felt the same unease; so, I went to check the e-mail and, sure enough, there was a message from the Editors, titled “Farewell”…!
I could not copy it, or print it, but here is the gist of it – it was civil enough and signed by both Pascal and Abha, but it carried a fairly strong hostility; they first blamed me for feeling slighted when, after more than one and a half year of publishing my notes they merely refused one single paragraph; then they remarked on my ability to misunderstand what is told me. Then came the main course: they said there was no way they would publish my second note, firstly because it began with what can only be seen as a personal attack on them and, secondly, because it was far too negative and they had had enough of this negativity and had received several complaints from people who scolded them for continuing to publish my articles; they stated that I behaved as if my fellow Aurovilians were all dim-wits and needed the benefit of my wisdom, but they had reached the conclusion that this was enough and no more, and they did not want me to go on spoiling the image of the “AV News and Notes”, which was read everywhere, and of Auroville in general; and it was their right to say so and to act accordingly. And this was, therefore, a farewell… They also advised me to write whatever I have to say in the “Intranet” – which is an electronic, supposedly “safe”, internal collective space extensively used by a number of Aurovilians who need to air their opinions and argue with one another…
I felt at once a marked relief and a sadness; but I did not wish to dwell on it and went back to work in the garden; this episode was over, no need to lament.
Later on, I berated myself: what a fool I had been not to pay closer attention, not to try to be more balanced, not to sustain the position of calling what must be, instead of emphasizing what must go… This went on for a while… Then I let myself drown into the worst possible opinion of my own actions and motivations, and succeeded in experiencing a rather intense self-disgust. Yes, these people were right and I had been indulging in easy, self-righteous criticism for far too long and I had actually, behind all my fine words, been pursuing my own agenda of revenge… And so on…
And it is true that, in the first note, of which one whole paragraph was refused, I had gone right in the open facing a fairly large number of people who had all been complicit in what I termed as unethical actions. How could I have been so naïve as to expect this sort of public statement would pass…!?
It would not be accurate to say that only this happened as, simultaneously, or at other levels, I also went through the process of offering, of presenting it all, without attachment or judgment, to the light of consciousness.
There has been pain, or sorrow too: how can I possibly serve?
Thirty years at Matrimandir were crossed out already and denied and now even this attempt to contribute has been terminated, and all of it is my own fault for causing others to become so hostile…
But the several processes involved will continue; the subject matter of this particular document – those notes which I was allowed to craft with, I still think and believe, the best of my understanding and ability – has come to an end.
Let it be whatever it is worth, in the Eye of the Lord.