The first step in the endeavour to bring the principles of spirituality into any community or society is to frame the intention and begin to address the organisation and principles of the society to carry out that intention. Spirituality is not fixated on any one religion or religious orientation, but represents instead the broader understanding of the principle of oneness and unity in the entire creation, and the identification of the consciousness of each individual with the universal and transcendent aspects of the manifestation.
Sri Aurobindo collaborator, The Mother, elucidated her vision for the creation of a spiritual community, and its position as a model for future development across the world. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was organized based on these lines, and it differs in a number of significant ways from the traditional Ashram settings based in the Hindu tradition.
The Mother expressed these principles as a “dream” for humanity: “There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of good will, sincere in their aspirations, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth, a place of peace, concord, harmony, where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weakness and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the care for progress would get precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking for material pleasures and enjoyment. In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their soul. Education would be given not with a view to passing examinations and getting certificates and posts but for enriching the existing facilities and bringing forth new ones. In this place titles and positions would be supplanted by opportunities to serve and organize. The needs of the body will be provided for equally in the case of each and everyone. In the general organisation intellectual, moral, and spiritual superiority will find expression not in the enhancement of the pleasures and powers of life but in the increase of duties and responsibilities. Artistic beauty in all forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, will be available equally to all, the opportunity to share in the joys they give being limited solely by each one’s capacities and not by social or financial position. For in this ideal place money would be no more the sovereign lord. Individual value would have a greater importance than the value due to material wealth and social position. Work would not be there as the means for gaining one’s livelihood, it would be the means whereby to express oneself, develop one’s capacities and possibilities, while doing at the same time service to the whole group, which on its side, would provide for each one’s subsistence and for the field of his work. In brief, it would be a place where the relations among human beings, usually based exclusively upon competition and strife, would be replaced by relations of emulation for doing better, for collaboration, relations of real brotherhood.”
“The earth is certainly not ready to realize such an ideal, for mankind does not yet possess the necessary knowledge to understand and accept it or the indispensable conscious force to execute it. That is why I call it a dream.”
“Yet, this dream is on the way to becoming a reality. That is exactly what we are seeking to do at the Ashram of Sri Aurobindo on a small scale, in proportion to our modest means. The achievement is indeed far from being perfect but it is progressive; little by little we advance toward our goal, which, we hope, one day we shall be able to hold before the world as a practical and effective means of coming out of the present chaos in order to be born into a more true, more harmonious new life.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Introduction by Robert McDermott, pp. 15-16