Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - The Mother

Turning Points: An inner story of the beginnings of Auroville

This new book is not primarily about Auroville's physical beginnings and development. It's about how the pioneers were drawn here and what keeps them here today.

Christine, the editor, asked 24 Aurovilians the simple yet profound question: How did She catch you and bring you here? The answers are as varied as the Aurovilians.

Jocelyn Shupack (‘Big Jocelyn') was sitting in a room in Arizona looking at a painting when it disappeared and she heard a voice say, “Come to India now!”

Tim Wrey and family set off to explore Africa and India . They covered 25,000 kilometres without a hitch. Then their Land-Rover broke down…under the Banyan Tree. Francis came to Pondicherry looking for a good French restaurant. Charlie was virtually deported to India by his parents. Patrick initially stayed on because he was attached to his partner, Heidi, who was attracted to the Ashram.

While differing outer circumstances brought them here, most of the people interviewed were looking for something different. Andre Hababou was unsatisfied with his work in France . “I sensed there was a greater Truth, something in life to discover more important than the petty things my friends were talking about.” Vijay, whose colourful background included fighting Franco's forces in Spain explains, “I could not live without a meaning in my life”. Janaka wanted to be free “from the prison of myself”. Paul Vincent wanted “to get hold of something worth living for – so that it would give me the strength to avoid being a bad person; so that I could transform my inner revolt into something positive and constructive”.

So what did they find? What kept them here? It was the freedom to experiment, to create something from scratch, to be pioneers in a unique endeavour. Above all, it was Mother. The most interesting portions of this book describe the interviewees' meetings with her. What makes these accounts so moving is not just the overwhelming nature of the experience – the feeling of being known, accepted and unconditionally loved for the first time in their lives – but the fact that some of the Aurovilians initially struggled to resist it.

But Turning Points is also about what it meant to live in Auroville in the early years. Andre Hababou saw an illustration of the Galaxy and thought the city was already built and that its inhabitants were transformed beings. The reality was somewhat different, as Vijay discovered. “I put up a hut, it cost me two hundred rupees at the time. There was nothing else. From here you could see the Banyan. Everybody thought I was mad. There was no road, no water, no fence, no nothing. I had a few books, a mat, a kerosene lamp (which was stolen the first day) and I lived there for a year.”

And yet, as Shyama remembers it, “It was a wonderful time. We were so full of faith…For us it was sacred, this land. This was the divine city.” “Those days carried so much force,” says Jocelyn Elder (‘Small Jocelyn'). “It was really like we were carrying the torch for her.”

And today? Is the torch still alight? Christine has no doubts. “This collection of stories is not about the past. It is about a hidden source of water which has irrigated this land for more than 40 years […] 40 years ago a Lady Diviner struck a rock and out of this rock water sprang. It gave life to this place, it gave life to the people and sustained them. It is still here and flowing. Its name is faith.”

Above all, reading this book is a little like receiving darshan of the Mother. We experience how she approached each individual differently – now gentle, now amused, now penetrating – yet flooding them all with her light and unconditional love. We are reminded of her laughter, of her joyful unpredictability (When Big Jocelyn discovered that somebody had taken her hut she wrote to Mother asking what she should do. ‘Find your psychic being' Mother replied!).

Turning Points. An inner story of the beginnings of Auroville. Auroville Press Publishers, 2008. Rs. 245.Those living outside Auroville who wish to purchase a copy may contact . … be continued Extracts from the book will be published in the next issue of our Newsletter

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