Seeing Auroville as an international centre of integral education
Last Updated: February 6, 2008
Seeing Auroville as an international centre
of integral education for human unity
based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
With special reference to the International Zone
The contents of this paper reflect what I have come across in a recent attempt to find some light on what the aims and objectives of Auroville's International Zone should be, within the context of the specific aims and objectives of Auroville as a whole. There is much more that could be said : about who should be the learners and educators; about steps of implementation and manifestation; about the significance of the participation of nations represented by their governments; and so on. I hope this exploration will inspire others who care deeply about Auroville to contribute their own insights, and that we could come closer to a shared vision of the great task we are connected to. Your feedback is most welcome.
1) Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
2) Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
3) Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
4) Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.
28 February 1968
The conditions in which men live on earth are the result of their state of consciousness. To seek to change these conditions without changing the consciousness is a vain chimera.
The Charter tells us that Auroville is meant to become a place of unending education, a site for research directed towards the realisation of a concrete expression of the oneness of all humanity. This oneness is already a reality, but that reality is not reflected in the present conditions of human life, which are dominated by conflict, inequality, misuse and disastrous wastage of human as well as natural resources.
As one approach to tackling this problem, now so acute that it seems to threaten the whole future not only of the human race but of the very earth itself, the Mother proposed in 1952 an international centre of education where "all human problems will be studied ... and the solution to them will be given in the light of the supramental knowledge which Sri Aurobindo has revealed in his writings."
The purpose of this centre of education is "to prepare the human elite who will be able to work for the progressive unification of mankind and be ready at the same time to embody the new force which is descending to transform the earth."
Although the text from which these quotations are taken was written in 1952 it has been connected, with the Mother's consent, to Auroville, and especially to the International Zone with its pavilions.
Auroville as a whole can be seen as the campus of such an international centre of education for integral self-development and research towards the manifestation of human unity, in which each of its zones of Auroville has a distinctive role.
Looking from this perspective, we can see that in every area of Auroville, from the most outlying farms and settlements, such as Annapurna, Aranya, Hermitage and Eternity, to the very centre, educational and research activities are going on, and that every aspect of the life of the city is, actually or potentially, an integral part of this cultural, social and educational experiment. Students are being attracted from all over India as well as from abroad to learn in this unique centre. This points to the importance of seeing clearly the educational vocation of Auroville. A perception of its centrality has inspired many people over the years to propose that education should become the organising principle of Auroville's life.
If we look at the International Zone in particular we can see that its special significance in this work is as Auroville's main physical interface with the world beyond our own immediate area.
This is the justification for considering the Visitors' Centre as a part of one of the 10 faculties of SAIIER's section of higher education and research. At the threshhold to Auroville through the International Zone, the Visitors' Centre could offer to a wide range of people a first contact with all the richness and diversity being developed in Auroville. This first contact should be both enjoyable and enriching. Each visitor - whether a specialist professional, or a group of schoolchildren - should experience something memorable, relevant and stimulating in this gateway area. In the area around the Visitors' Centre all the major activities of Auroville can be represented in microcosm, and contact-information should be available to lead those who are interested to explore further to do so in a meaningful manner. No visitor to Auroville should leave feeling lost or rebuffed.
This "interface" aspect makes the International Zone as a whole distinct from the Cultural Zone, where Auroville students find their schools and sports facilities, and where Auroville artists can work undisturbed, as individuals or groups in protected studios and workshops. When they are ready to exhibit their work to the general public and the wider world, they should find facilities for doing so in the International Zone.
Similarly the units in the Industrial Zone should be able to work undisturbed by curious visitors - and yet find in the International Zone channels to display their products, welcome serious enquirers, meet prospective apprentices and so on.
Those who are working in forestry, farming, social work in the villages, health and healing, etc. should also be able to present their work in microcosm at the gateway to the International Zone, satisfying most enquirers, and offering channels to further investigation to the lesser numbers who are more deeply interested.
This is also why CIRHU (Centre for International Research in Human Unity), which is intended to host high-level research conferences and seminars with participants coming from all over the world, has its location close to this area.
The interface aspect is also the reason why the pavilions representing the cultures of all the nations need to be developed so as to allow for several different levels of educational activity. Most accessible should be public areas where school children and other visitors who come for only an hour or two can easily find enriching educational experiences - exhibitions, films, drama, music or dance performances, works of art, the cultural expressions of different parts of the world, with in-between areas for refreshment and recreation.. More protected should be areas where students from different backgrounds and levels of need can come to study and find instruction. Most protected, the hostel areas where people live for longer or shorter periods to experience 24-hour learning.
In this context it is relevant to consider what kind of students are to be catered for and where; and how the necessary facilities might be realised. But before taking this up I wanted to try to understand more precisely what kind of education the Mother wished to provide in her international centre of education. That is the main focus of the present study.
What Kind of Education ?
In order to understand more precisely what kind of education the Mother wished to provide in her international centre of education., it was helpful to take a closer look at three texts which the Mother published under the heading "An International University Centre".
These three texts complement each other. The first gives a general introduction to the concept. In her first paragraph the Mother outlines the problem or need that is proposed to be addressed. We have already seen her initial premise, which was used as a caption for this essay :
The conditions in which men live on earth are the result of their state of consciousness. To seek to change these conditions without changing the consciousness is a vain chimera.
Then she explains that all improvements in the human condition have been made by individuals who raised their consciousness above the mass in some way. But their achievements could not be truly lasting unless there was a corresponding rise in the common consciousness of humanity.
... In this effort to improve human conditions, there have always been two tendencies, which seem to be contrary but which ought to complement each other so that progress may be achieved. The first advocates a collective reorganization - something which could lead to the effective unity of mankind. The other declares that all progress is made first by the individual and insists that the individual should be given the conditions in which he can progress freely. Both are equally true and necessary, and our effort should be directed along both these lines at once. For collective progress and individual progress are interdependent. Before the individual can take a leap forward, at least a little of the preceding progress must have been realized in the collectivity. A way must therefore be found so that these two types of progress may proceed side by side.
This amounts to a statement of what is needed for fulfilling the fourth point of the AV charter :
4) Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.
For this to happen, both individual and collective progress are essential and complementary. Both have to proceed side by side.
We may recall that the concept of Auroville was first mooted at the first World Conference of the Sri Aurobindo Society in August 1964. For that conference the Mother gave a message, as well as a series of questions for the participants to consider with her own answers to them. Here is her message, followed by the questions and the Mother's answers to them.
(Message for the First World Conference of the Sri Aurobindo Society)
The future of the earth depends on a change of consciousness.
The only hope for the future is in a change of man's consciousness and the change is bound to come.
But it is left to men to decide if they will collaborate for this change or if it will have to be enforced upon them by the power of crashing circumstances.
So, wake up and collaborate!
(Mother gave the following questions for discussion by the Conference participants, and her own answers.)
"How can humanity become one?"
By becoming conscious of its origin.
"What is the way of making the consciousness of human unity grow in man?"
Spiritual education, that is to say an education which gives more importance to the growth of the spirit than to any religious or moral teaching or to the material so-called knowledge.
"What is a change of consciousness?"
A change of consciousness is equivalent to a new birth, a birth into a higher sphere of existence.
"How can a change of consciousness change the life upon earth?"
A change in human consciousness will make possible the manifestation upon earth of a higher Force, a purer Light, a more total Truth.
I have added as an appendix two inspiring texts from Sri Aurobindo which give some indication of the direction he hoped to see this change of consciousness taking.
In the second paragraph of her text, the Mother tells us :
It is in answer to this urgent need that Sri Aurobindo conceived the scheme of his international university, in order to prepare the human elite who will be able to work for the progressive unification of mankind and be ready at the same time to embody the new force which is descending to transform the earth.
If we accept this text as a blueprint to guide the educational vocation of Auroville, we should not overlook what is said here : the aim is to prepare outstanding individuals, who will have the capacity to work for the gradual realisation of human unity, and at the same time to embody the new force which is at work to transform the earth. But these individuals cannot cut themselves off from the rest of humanity.
For collective progress and individual progress are interdependent. Before the individual can take a leap forward, at least a little of the preceding progress must have been realized in the collectivity.
So this effort of education and research must also touch and uplift humanity as a whole.
The Mother then outlines some of the governing ideas of the attempt she proposes:
A few broad ideas will serve as a basis for the organization of this university centre and will govern its programme of studies. Most of them have already been presented in the various writings of Sri Aurobindo and in the series of articles on education in this Bulletin.
Here she is referring to a series of articles on articles she wrote for the "Bulletin" - the journal of the Ashram's physical education section. In Volume 12 of the Mother's Collected Works that series immediately precedes the article we are presently examining. The titles are worth noting, for they indicate a fairly complete outline of the Mother's concept of integral education. They run, "The Science of Living", "Education", "Physical Education", "Vital Education", "Mental Education", "Psychic Education and Spiritual Education". These articles provide valuable guidelines for developing the integral education that Auroville is supposed to provide.
Returning to the broad ideas that will serve as the basis for this international centre of education for human unity and will govern its programme of studies, we find that :
The most important idea is that the unity of the human race can be achieved neither by uniformity nor by domination and subjection. Only a synthetic organization of all nations, each one occupying its true place according to its own genius and the part it has to play in the whole, can bring about a comprehensive and progressive unification which has any chance of enduring. And if this synthesis is to be a living one, the grouping should be effectuated around a central idea that is as wide and as high as possible, in which all tendencies, even the most contradictory, may find their respective places. This higher idea is to give men the conditions of life they need in order to be able to prepare themselves to manifest the new force that will create the race of tomorrow.
Lasting human unity can only come about by each nation finding its true place and role in the whole. And the higher idea which could help each nation to find its true place and role is
to give men the conditions of life they need in order to be able to prepare themselves to manifest the new force that will create the race of tomorrow.
It is in this sense that Auroville could become "the cradle of the Superman."
Each nation has its own special contribution to make in creating these conditions. But to make this combined effort possible,
All impulsions of rivalry, all struggle for precedence and domination must disappear and give way to a will for harmonious organization, for clear-sighted and effective collaboration.
How is this going to come about ? Through education for human unity.
To make this possible, the children should be accustomed from a very early age not merely to the idea itself, but to its practice. That is why the international university centre will be international; not because students from all countries will be admitted here, nor even because they will be taught in their own language, but above all because the cultures of the various parts of the world will be represented here so as to be accessible to all, not merely intellectually in ideas, theories, principles and language, but also vitally in habits and customs, art in all its forms � painting, sculpture, music, architecture, decoration � and physically through natural scenery, dress, games, sports, industries and food.
Three important points are mentioned here :
Students from all countries will be admitted here
They will be taught in their own language
The cultures of the various parts of the world will be represented intellectually, vitally and physically.
How is this last point to be achieved ?
A kind of permanent world-exhibition should be organized in which all countries will be represented in a concrete and living way. The ideal would be for every nation with a well-defined culture to have a pavilion representing that culture, built in a style that is most expressive of the customs of the country; it will exhibit the nation's most representative products, natural as well as manufactured, and also the best expressions of its intellectual and artistic genius and its spiritual tendencies. Each nation would thus have a very practical and concrete interest in this cultural synthesis and could collaborate in the work by taking responsibility for the pavilion that represents it. Living accommodation, large or small according to the need, could be attached, where students of the same nationality could stay and thus enjoy the true culture of their native country and at the same time receive at the university centre the education which will introduce them to all the other cultures that exist on earth. In this way, international education will not by merely theoretical, in the classroom, but practical in all the details of life.
This is the blueprint for the International Zone. The pavilions are very clearly intended as an educational tool, and each one is supposed to
exhibit the nation's most representative products, natural as well as manufactured, and also the best expressions of its intellectual and artistic genius and its spiritual tendencies.
She also adds :
Living accommodation, large or small according to the need, could be attached, where students of the same nationality could stay and thus enjoy the true culture of their native country and at the same time receive at the university centre the education which will introduce them to all the other cultures that exist on earth.
Together, these pavilions would represent
the cultures of the various parts of the world ... so as to be accessible to all, not merely intellectually in ideas, theories, principles and language, but also vitally in habits and customs, art in all its forms � painting, sculpture, music, architecture, decoration � and physically through natural scenery, dress, games, sports, industries and food. ... In this way, international education will not by merely theoretical, in the classroom, but practical in all the details of life.
In this paragraph too the Mother first indicates a point to which she gave much more prominence in 1967 during a talk about Auroville :
Each nation would thus have a very practical and concrete interest in this cultural synthesis and could collaborate in the work by taking responsibility for the pavilion that represents it.
Here we have the seed for the idea to which the Mother later gave great importance in the context of Auroville - the participation of national governments in creating this part of the "universe city" of Auroville. We can examine this aspect in more detail when considering methods of materialising the Mother's concept.
In her final paragraph the Mother sums up the aim of the education to be provided at the Centre :
The first aim will therefore be to help individuals to become aware of the fundamental genius of the nation to which they belong and at the same time to bring them into contact with the ways of life of other nations, so that they learn to know and respect equally the true spirit of all the countries of the world. For, in order to be real and workable, any world-organisation must be based on this mutual respect and understanding between nation and nation as well as between individual and individual. Only in order and collective organisation, in collaboration based on mutual goodwill, is there any possibility of lifting man out of the painful chaos in which he finds himself now.
She concludes the first text by affirming :
It is with this aim and in this spirit that all human problems will be studied at the university centre; and the solution to them will be given in the light of the supramental knowledge which Sri Aurobindo has revealed in his writings.
In the second text, the Mother returns to the need for each nation to occupy its true place in the harmony of the whole :
... It has been mentioned that each nation must occupy its own place and play its part in the world concert.
This should not be taken to mean that each nation can choose its place arbitrarily, according to its own ambitions and cravings. A country's mission is not something which can be decided mentally with all the egoistic and ignorant preferences of the external consciousness, for in that case the field of conflict between nations might be shifted, but the conflict would continue, probably with even greater force.
She explains what the alternative is :
Just as each individual has a psychic being which is his true self and which governs his destiny more or less overtly, so too each nation has a psychic being which is its true being and moulds its destiny from behind the veil: it is the soul of the country, the national genius, the spirit of the people, the centre of national aspiration, the fountainhead of all that is beautiful, noble, great and generous in the life of the country. True patriots feel its presence as a tangible reality.
Just as the Mother wished each of her children to be governed and guided in life by the true inner self, the psychic being, she wished each nation too to find its place in the community of nations by the guidance of its true inner self, its soul.
She gives the example of India, saying :
In India it has been made into an almost divine entity, and all who truly love their country call it "Mother India" (Bharat Mata) and offer her a daily prayer for the welfare of their country. It is she who symbolises and embodies the true ideal of the country, its true mission in the world.
She quotes in full Sri Aurobindo's "Hymn to Durga", which invokes one of the aspects of the universal Mother, as an example of an ideal attitude towards the soul of the nation we belong to. Here are a couple of its inspiring verses :
"Mother Durga ! Rider on the lion, giver of all strength,�we, born from thy parts of Power, we the youth of India, are seated here in thy temple. Listen, O Mother, descend upon earth, make thyself manifest in this land of India.
"Mother Durga ! We are thy children, through thy grace; by thy influence may we become fit for the great work, for the great Ideal. Mother, destroy our smallness, our selfishness, our fear.
"Mother Durga ! Enter our bodies in thy Yogic strength. We shall become thy instruments, thy sword slaying all evil, thy lamp dispelling all ignorance. Fulfil this yearning of thy young children, O Mother. Be the master and drive thy instrument, wield thy sword and slay the evil, hold up the lamp and spread the light of knowledge. Make thyself manifest."
The Mother concludes :
One would like to see in all countries the same veneration for the national soul, the same aspiration to become fit instruments for the manifestation of its highest ideal, the same ardour for progress and self-perfection enabling each people to identify itself with its national soul and thus find its true nature and role, which makes each one a living and immortal entity regardless of all the accidents of history.
The Mother subtitles her third text on an International University Centre "Advice to Newcomers". In it she addresses the students and teachers who were beginning to gather to participate in the new centre of education. And here again her advice points to the primary importance of the psychic being.
Already future teachers and future students are beginning to arrive, some from outside, new to the climate and customs of the country. ... Some of them come with a mental aspiration, either to serve or to learn; others come in the hope of doing yoga, of finding the Divine and uniting with Him; finally there are those who want to devote themselves entirely to the divine work upon earth. All of them come impelled by their psychic being, which wants to lead them towards self-realisation.
They come with their psychic in front and ruling their consciousness; they have a psychic contact with people and things. Everything seems beautiful and good to them, their health improves, their consciousness grows more luminous; they feel happy, peaceful and safe; they think that they have reached their utmost possibility of consciousness. This peace and fullness and joy given by the psychic contact they naturally find everywhere, in everything and everybody. It gives an openness towards the true consciousness pervading here and working out everything.
So long as the openness is there, the peace, the fullness and the joy remain with their immediate results of progress, heath and fitness in the physical, quietness and goodwill in the vital, clear understanding and broadness in the mental and a general feeling of security and satisfaction. But it is difficult for a human being to keep up a constant contact with his psychic. As soon as he settles down and the freshness of the new experience fades away, the old person comes back to the surface with all its habits, preferences, small manias, shortcomings and misunderstandings; the peace is replaced by the restlessness, the joy vanishes, the understanding is blinded and the feeling that the place is the same as everywhere else creeps in, because one has become what one was everywhere else. ... You might well ask, what is the remedy for this state of affairs? ... There is ... only one remedy : be on your guard, hold fast to the psychic, do not allow anything in your consciousness to slip in between your psychic and yourself, close your ears and your understanding to all other suggestions and rely only on the psychic.
Then the Mother again emphasises that this centre has the special character of being dedicated to Sri Aurobindo :
Usually, those who become conscious of their psychic being expect that it will liberate them from vital and physical attractions and activities; they seek to escape from the world in order to live in the joy of contemplation of the Divine, and in the immutable peace of constant contact with him. The attitude of those who want to practise Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga is quite different. When they have found their psychic being and are united with it, they ask it to turn its gaze towards the physical being in order to act on it with the knowledge that comes from the contact with the Divine, and to transform the body so that it may be able to receive and manifest the divine consciousness and harmony.
This is the goal of our efforts here; this will be the culmination of your studies in the International University Centre.
The Mother makes explicit the connection between her projected international centre of education and Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga, and she says to all those who want to participate in it :
So, to all those who come to join the University Centre, I shall say once more: never forget our programme and the deeper reason of your coming here.
It was for the teachers and students of her centre of education that she wrote the series of texts on education, the messages and letters, that are to be found in volume 12 of her Collected Works, "On Education". By studying these texts carefully and in depth and with a true will to understand and benefit from them, we shall find all the guidance we can assimilate to assist us in trying to manifest the centre of education that Auroville is meant to become, and to provide here the kind of education that the Mother intended. The first condition we shall have to concentrate on fulfilling is that of finding our psychic being in order to become true Aurovilians :
The first necessity is the inner discovery in order to know what one truly is behind social, moral, cultural, racial and hereditary appearances.
At the centre there is a being free, vast and knowing, who awaits our discovery and who ought to become the active centre of our being and our life in Auroville.
The Mother : "To be a true Aurovilian"
Some guidelines on how to do this are given in her article "Psychic and Spiritual Education", pages 28 tp 36 of Volume 12 of her Collected Works.
I believe that only to the extent that the life of Auroville becomes the expression of our aspiration to become this kind of centre of unending education, will we benefit from the full trust and support of the Government of India. The Indian Government alone can gain the trust, support and participation of other national governments through Unesco for the development of Auroville as a whole and the pavilions of the International Zone in particular. This is the way too to gain the lasting respect and support of our neighbours in Tamil Nadu. More fundamentally, this is the way to ensure that we remain always under the protection and guidance of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo - by remaining faithful to their vision of the part that Auroville could play in their great work of world-transformation.
To conclude this exploration of what kind of education the Mother wished to be imparted in her international centre of education, for integral self development and research towards means to manifest lasting and effective human unity, and to give men the conditions of life they need in order to be able to prepare themselves to manifest the new force that will create the race of tomorrow, here is her reminder :
We are not here to do (only a little better) what the others do.
We are here to do what the others cannot do because they do not have the idea that it can be done.
We are here to open the way of the Future to children who belong to the Future.
Anything else is not worth the trouble and not worthy of Sri Aurobindo's help.
6 September 1961
APPENDIX : Two texts from Sri Aurobindo
The Unity of the Human Race
... [W]hile it is possible to construct a precarious and quite mechanical unity by political and administrative means, the unity of the human race, even if achieved, can only be secured and can only be made real if the religion of humanity, which is at present the highest active ideal of mankind, spiritualises itself and becomes the general inner law of human life.
A spiritual religion of humanity is the hope of the future. By this is not meant what is ordinarily called a universal religion, a system, a thing of creed and intellectual belief and dogma and outward rite. Mankind has tried unity by that means; it has failed and deserved to fail, because there can be no universal religious system, one in mental creed and vital form. The inner spirit is indeed one, but more than any other the spiritual life insists on freedom and variation in its self-expression and means of development. A religion of humanity means the growing realisation that there is a secret Spirit, a divine Reality, in which we are all one, that humanity is its highest present vehicle on earth, that the human race and the human being are the means by which it will progressively reveal itself here. It implies a growing attempt to live out this knowledge and bring about a kingdom of this divine Spirit upon earth. By its growth within us oneness with our fellow-men will become the leading principle of all our life, not merely a principle of cooperation but a deeper brotherhood, a real and an inner sense of unity and equality and a common life. There must be the realisation by the individual that only in the life of his fellow-men is his own life complete. There must be the realisation by the race that only on the free and full life of the individual can its own perfection and permanent happiness be founded. There must be too a discipline and a way of salvation in accordance with this religion, that is to say, a means by which it can be developed by each man within himself, so that it may be developed in the life of the race. To go into all that this implies would be too large a subject to be entered upon here; it is enough to point out that in this direction lies the eventual road. No doubt, if this is only an idea like the rest, it will go the way of all ideas. But if it is at all a truth of our being, then it must be the truth to which all is moving and in it must be found the means of a fundamental, an inner, a complete, a real human unity which would be the one secure base of a unification of human life. A spiritual oneness which would create a psychological oneness not dependent upon any intellectual or outward uniformity and compel a oneness of life not bound up with its mechanical means of unification, but ready always to enrich its secure unity by a free inner variation and a freely varied outer self-expression, this would be the basis for a higher type of human existence.
Could such a realisation develop rapidly in mankind, we might then solve the problem of unification in a deeper and truer way from the inner truth to the outer forms. Until then, the attempt to bring it about by mechanical means must proceed. But the higher hope of humanity lies in the growing number of men who will realise this truth and seek to develop it in themselves, so that when the mind of man is ready to escape from its mechanical bent,�perhaps when it finds that its mechanical solutions are all temporary and disappointing,�the truth of the Spirit may step in and lead humanity to the path of its highest possible happiness and perfection.
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity
CWSA Volume 25, pp. 571, 577-8
Towards a spiritualised society
A deeper, wider, greater, more spiritualised subjective understanding of the individual and communal self and its life and a growing reliance on the spiritual light and the spiritual means for the final solution of its problems are the only way to a true social perfection. The free rule, that is to say, the predominant lead, control and influence of the developed spiritual man�not the half-spiritualised priest, saint or prophet or the raw religionist�is our hope for a divine guidance of the race. A spiritualised society can alone bring about a reign of individual harmony and communal happiness; or, in words which, though liable to abuse by the reason and the passions, are still the most expressive we can find, a new kind of theocracy, the kingdom of God upon earth, a theocracy which shall be the government of mankind by the Divine in the hearts and minds of men.
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle
CWSA Volume 25, p. 182-83
Certainly, this will not come about easily, or, as men have always vainly hoped from each great new turn and revolution of politics and society, by a sudden and at once entirely satisfying change and magical transformation. The advance, however it comes about, will be indeed of the nature of a miracle, as are all such profound changes and immense developments; for they have the appearance of a kind of realised impossibility. But God works all his miracles by an evolution of secret possibilities which have been long prepared, at least in their elements, and in the end by a rapid bringing of all to a head, a throwing together of the elements so that in their fusion they produce a new form and name of things and reveal a new spirit. Often the decisive turn is preceded by an apparent emphasising and raising to their extreme of things which seem the very denial, the most uncompromising opposite of the new principle and the new creation. Such an evolution of the elements of a spiritualised society is that which a subjective age makes at least possible, and if at the same time it raises to the last height of active power things which seem the very denial of such a potentiality, that need be no index of a practical impossibility of the new birth, but on the contrary may be the sign of its approach or at the lowest a strong attempt at achievement. Certainly, the whole effort of a subjective age may go wrong; but this happens oftenest when by the insufficiency of its materials, a great crudeness of its starting-point and a hasty shallowness or narrow intensity of its inlook into itself and things it is foredoomed to a fundamental error of self-knowledge. It becomes less likely when the spirit of the age is full of freedom, variety and a many-sided seeking, a persistent effort after knowledge and perfection in all the domains of human activity; that can well convert itself into an intense and yet flexible straining after the infinite and the divine on many sides and in many aspects. In such circumstances, though a full advance may possibly not be made, a great step forward can be predicted.
Ibid. pp. 183-84
A spiritualised society would live like its spiritual individuals, not in the ego, but in the spirit, not as the collective ego, but as the collective soul. This freedom from the egoistic standpoint would be its first and most prominent characteristic. But the elimination of egoism would not be brought about, as it is now proposed to bring it about, by persuading or forcing the individual to immolate his personal will and aspirations and his precious and hard-won individuality to the collective will, aims and egoism of the society, driving him like a victim of ancient sacrifice to slay his soul on the altar of that huge and shapeless idol. For that would be only the sacrifice of the smaller to the larger egoism, larger only in bulk, not necessarily greater in quality or wider or nobler, since a collective egoism, result of the united egoisms of all, is as little a god to be worshipped, as flawed and often an uglier and more barbarous fetish than the egoism of the individual. What the spiritual man seeks is to find by the loss of the ego the self which is one in all and perfect and complete in each and by living in that to grow into the image of its perfection,�individually, be it noted, though with an all-embracing universality of his nature and its conscious circumference. ... It is this kingdom of God within, the result of the finding of God not in a distant heaven but within ourselves, of which the state of society in an age of the Truth, a spiritual age, would be the result and the external figure.
Therefore a society which was even initially spiritualised would make the revealing and finding of the divine Self in man the supreme, even the guiding aim of all its activities, its education, its knowledge, its science, its ethics, its art, its economical and political structure. ... [E]ducation ... would embrace all knowledge in its scope, but would make the whole trend and aim and the permeating spirit not mere worldly efficiency, though that efficiency would not be neglected, but this self-developing and self-finding and all else as its powers. It would pursue the physical and psychic sciences not in order merely to know the world and Nature in her processes and to use them for material human ends, but still more to know through and in and under and over all things the Divine in the world and the ways of the Spirit in its masks and behind them. It would make it the aim of ethics not to establish a rule of action ... but to develop the divine nature in the human being. It would make it the aim of Art not merely to present images of the subjective and objective world, but to see them with the significant and creative vision that goes behind their appearances and to reveal the Truth and Beauty of which things visible to us and invisible are the forms, the masks or the symbols and significant figures.
A spiritualised society would treat in its sociology the individual, from the saint to the criminal, not as units of a social problem to be passed through some skilfully devised machinery and either flattened into the social mould or crushed out of it, but as souls suffering and entangled in a net and to be rescued, souls growing and to be encouraged to grow, souls grown and from whom help and power can be drawn by the lesser spirits who are not yet adult. The aim of its economics would be not to create a huge engine of production, whether of the competitive or the cooperative kind, but to give to men�not only to some but to all men each in his highest possible measure�the joy of work according to their own nature and free leisure to grow inwardly, as well as a simply rich and beautiful life for all. In its politics ... it would regard the peoples as group-souls, the Divinity concealed and to be self-discovered in its human collectivities, group-souls meant like the individual to grow according to their own nature and by that growth to help each other, to help the whole race in the one common work of humanity. And that work would be to find the divine Self in the individual and the collectivity and to realise spiritually, mentally, vitally, materially its greatest, largest, richest and deepest possibilities in the inner life of all and their outer action and nature.
Ibid. pp. 255-57