In part I of this series we explored the nature of the existential crisis of humanity, the 6th planetary “die off” of species, the extinction event that is knocking at our door, and the underlying causal actions of humanity that have created this crisis, based on the methodology and the consequent limitations of the mental consciousness acting on the vital and physical planes. We also explored the evolutionary cycle and the signs of the next phase of evolution beyond the mind, which Sri Aurobindo terms the “supramental consciousness” that is in process of manifesting. The mental consciousness is based in the ego and sees things as if it is at the center of existence, a falsehood that leads to all kinds of imbalances in humanity’s interactions with the world. The supramental consciousness as it manifests is not bound by the ego-personality and sees things in a holistic and complete way.
As we begin the shift from the mental to the supramental consciousness, we can already begin to work on adapting this changed viewpoint into the ways we deal with and address the world around us, and the way we interact with other individuals. This can, and should, bring about enormous changes in the way humanity relates to the environment, and we are beginning to see a change in understanding consistent with this shift from the ego-awareness to the consciousness beyond the ego and its mental-vital-physical framework.
The existential crisis we are looking at needs urgent and effective action to change human patterns of life and this requires considerable effort to both develop new, sound ways of dealing with the world, and finding ways to create implementations of these new patterns.
The Auroville project in South India acts as an incubator for new approaches toward living holistically on the planet, and developing sound, scalable and adaptable models that can start with the developing world, where the need is obviously the greatest and the resources available are the least. The developed world, with its embedded base of investments will only follow along when it becomes obvious to those who hold and command the resources that their model is unsustainable and must be changed. The situation in the developing world, however, is much different and there, the people are going to adopt the model of the developed world, and further burden the planet, if they do not find ways to survive and thrive that are also more balanced for the future. Their rationale is that they have the same right to succeed and enjoy their lives as those who have exploited the planet in the past, and thus, they should not be gainsaid with regard to their development aspirations.
Auroville has residents from more than 70 countries around the world, people who have come to work towards developing new ways and new directions and new relationships to provide a way forward out of the existential crisis we are facing. They bring with them the aspirations of humanity, as well as all the basic characteristics of humanity that need to be addressed while trying to overcome the issues and concerns that tend to divide humanity one from another. In addition to simply being an experiment in how to bring about human unity across different cultural mindsets, languages, religious and political backgrounds, Auroville has numerous projects spanning a wide variety of fields, but each focused on a different aspect of sustainability, environmental integrity and healing of the planet and the people. It has not only conceptualized numerous potential directions, but has actually started up a number of projects to actualize these concepts and show that they can be both effective, harmonious, adaptable and scalable.
One such project was a reforestation program. Auroville, when it was founded in 1968, was a desolated landscape with heavy erosion, lack of tree cover and vegetation and harsh heat under a beating sun. Today one sees a lush forest with a complex infrastructure of native plants, insects and animals in a heavily forested area, with erosion control, and water catchments, all in harmony with Nature. The transformation was made through the kind of holistic vision that needs to be applied more widely in the world.
The reforestation project worked on many levels. First, to understand the native flora and fauna of the region and begin to introduce appropriate vegetation and trees. Second, to work with the local villagers so they would both understand the value and support the project as it developed. Third, to nurture the plantings carefully through the initial stages. Along the way, water runoff was studied and catchments and diversions were developed to capture the water and not allow it to further erode the landscape.
Not only did Auroville achieve “proof of concept” with this project, but it succeeded in exporting the basics of this project to Haiti, Kenya and some other areas in India, successfully, by developing local individuals who took into account their own local circumstances and adapted the consciousness that was developed to the new situation.
Other projects include creating high protein algae-based foods, commercial hemp for a number of uses, including environmentally-friendly bricks for building. They also have developed architectural models to maintain a moderate and cool environment within the tropical zone through the building design and materials used, rather than the Western approach of relying on energy-intensive air conditioning equipment, as well as creating unique solutions to water capture and conservation.
Auroville has more than 55 current projects spanning the gamut from food, water and health to building, construction and reforestation, while also experimenting with new ways of developing and sharing resources within the community. Many of these projects are mature and ready to be scaled to other localities in the developing world, while some are working out the implementation details in the initial stages. Auroville does not claim to have all the solutions, but it is working to envision and implement new ways that are in harmony with the global, holistic requirements to solve the existential crisis we face.
Another aspect of the Auroville project is the very dynamics of interaction between all the different people, backgrounds, religions, languages and cultures. Everyone brings their own unique perspective and ways of acting to the situation and, as we see everywhere in the world, this can bring about a considerable amount of disagreement, or even conflict. The challenge at Auroville is to become a laboratory for change, not just on the environmental or natural circumstances, but also to face and find solutions to the interpersonal challenges that inevitably must arise given the complexity of the society that is being built there. This encompasses also new ways of allocating resources, new forms of decision-making, and a wider vision that can encompass numerous different approaches without taking personal affront, as so often is the case wherever people join together to accomplish something, whether in a family, a business, a community, a society, a religious tradition, or a civilization. None of these challenges are simple of solution, and in order to even be resolved, they must arise and be confronted, understood and worked out. The Auroville project brings to this process a basic understanding and good will regarding the need for such interaction and new forms of resolution, and thus, even disagreement or internal conflict becomes part of the larger process as the community continues to grow, develop and flourish over time.
For an extensive interview covering this subject and the Auroville experiment see the following link: https://youtu.be/eoiV_ipoHbk
A preceding interview going in depth into the existential crisis and the evolution of consciousness see the following link: https://youtu.be/n3MznXmXDM4
For more information about the Auroville projects and overview of the comprehensive nature of these projects as experiments in developing a sustainable future, you can visit the website at https://aviusa.org/flourish/ and for more general information about Auroville, visit www.aviusa.org/auroville
For more information about the writings of Sri Aurobindo which underlie the approaches taken as humanity searches for a way to survive and thrive in the future, you can visit www.lotuspress.com as well as visit the daily blog postings at https://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and daily podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky and the web page www.aurobindo.net