Despite the claim that there would be no religion in Auroville there is a religion there, of a sort. The name of the town was derived from early 20th century philosopher and guru Sri Auribindo, who was the inspiration for the town. He espoused a philosophy that viewed nature as divine. God is in everything and everyone. The charter of the Auroville community says to live there one must be a “willing servitor of the divine consciousness.” In other words, this is a place with a very eastern, Hindu-influenced presupposition. While it may claim it has no religion, in fact it is home to a very definite, if loosely defined eastern religious worldview. I would call it in American terms more than a little “New Age.”
The author of the article included some quotes from a resident and one from a former resident that are very revealing. The resident said of the town, “it’s a lot more ugly than (it appears) from the outside.” In other words, it is not as peaceful as it might look. Surprise, surprise, human nature seems to rear its head no matter what kind of community you create, and when that happens, trouble follows. But to me the most poignant comment by the resident was that in that town “neighbors do little to help one another.” If you are in need there you are pretty much on your own. People are too busy looking out for themselves to care for others. Hardly what I would describe as the ideal society. Why would you expect anything else if you start with the premise that people should be looking to themselves as the embodiment of the divine?
A former resident made a general observation about the people living in Auroville. He said, “They’re all looking to be cured.” When the author asked, “Of what?” he responded, “that is the question.” In other words, they know something is wrong. They are looking for some unknown answer to their longing and hoping to find a cure for the emptiness and the ache that is in them. The question they can’t seem to figure out is what causes that ache, that emptiness? What is it that must be cured? Not even understanding what is missing they are doomed to an endless search for peace and fulfillment.
Even when we don’t know it, all of us are longing for the Kingdom of God. It is in that kingdom and only in that kingdom that humans finally will be able to live in perfect peace and unity with one another. The dream dies hard because the desire for that kingdom is hardwired into every human soul. Unfortunately, the dream will not be reality until Jesus reigns in the new heaven and new earth. The church often disappoints people because they come to it expecting it to scratch that utopian itch, but the church is made of forgiven, but fallen people. It will only become the true embodiment of unity when all of us are finally transformed to be just like Jesus. In the meantime we’ll need to accept one another with all of our shortcomings, forgive each other and give each other lots of grace. We’ll need to grow in learning to deny ourselves and follow Jesus. We’ll need to keep growing in loving one another the way Jesus loves us. And we’ll need to rejoice in the peace with God we have through the grace of Jesus Christ.