International Education, Auroville and the Ideal of Human Unity
Last Activity: November 9, 2007
International Education, Auroville and the Ideal of Human Unity an Introductory Presentation by Rod (Sept. 15, 2007)
Welcome to the first seminar of the University of Human Unity. I would like to start with a few reflections. A few days ago when Vladimir and I sat down to propose a series of possible presentations, I mentioned it that it seemed unfortunate that we didnt have someone like Doudou Dienne who represents an international perspective. That experience and that degree of attunement with the global community, it seemed to me would be a real asset in our sociology segment. We were looking at the sociology segment because for some reason it was the first in the list. So Vladimir jumped to the conclusion that I should take that role at this meeting. It was very random, and quite impossible. And thats how I happen to be sitting here today, having prepared an introductory presentation in the field of sociology.
We will be reflecting upon, during the course of these seminars maybe how we can become a living example of what Sri Aurobindo has envisioned in The Ideal Law of Social Development. We are an international society. We represent not only our respective social and cultural backgrounds, but we also represent educational efforts that are distinct, that are organized, and that are different. We constitute a diverse, international group of educators who have already been engaged in developing an approach to learning. And we are attempting now to launch an endeavor to create a platform for higher learning that would be free, that would manifest a high degree of freedom to learn, to explore, and to discover, and that would also manifest a high degree of unity of intention, unity in our aspiration and our goal to arrive at an integral, comprehensive and universal understanding. (Youll remember where those terms come from, I suppose.)
And I think what would be especially unique about this endeavor at least I hope this would constitute one of its unique features - is that in creating this platform for higher learning and integral knowledge we would not be presupposing a fixed body of knowledge that is to be offered to students. Because I think that if our intention is to discover something along the lines of the ideal law of social development and Higher Mind in the ascent towards Supermind, we must realize that there is the possibility of discovering new knowledge, and in fact it is a necessity. One of the unique features of this university of human unity would be its freedom to discover new knowledge, and a new consciousness. Manifesting this degree of freedom and unity that will enable us to discover and embody higher knowledge and methods of learning and an integral knowledge, would I think constitute our purpose, the purpose of this group in this endeavor.
That discovery and research would also be a continual discovery of who we are. We are that freedom, and unity, and possibility of integral knowledge. The only knowledge that we have is knowledge of the self, our self what we are. Even the external world, which goes from our chromosomes to the North Pole, is what we are. The integration of the silent, absolute, unmanifest, immobile self, with that vast threefold world of the physical, the vital, and the mental, would be the scope of our knowledge, understanding and research, it would be an unlimited field of discovery. Therefore we have proposed, very tentatively, a paradigm, an integral learning paradigm, which will evolve. But the idea and inspiration is to open a field of discovery that would include all our faculties of learning and all the field that is to be discovered and understood, which constitutes the self.
The evolving paradigm for integral learning that we have been exploring for some time is the paradigm of the unfolding self in its faculties of mind, and spirit, and sight, and hearing, speech and life force and body. And for me it can include everything and it can constitute a way of beginning to understand the ways in which the social, the cultural, the theoretical, the creative consciousness and material envelope, the linguistic, the psychological and the physical aspects of our world, are one continuous expression of the principles of conscious existence. The faculty of sight, for example, is embodied in all the structures of life. Seeing is a way of knowing all of that which we are. One of those things that we are is our cultural expressions, all of the principles and structures based upon the principles of harmony and order, which are known through the faculties of sound, sight, creative speech, theoretical understanding, our psychological and physiological processes.
The idea of evolving such an integral paradigm is simply to search for an understanding that is universal. Its a universal consciousness that we wish to discover in us and in the world, and to be resonant with, and to participate in a process of communicating about, creating within, and supporting the discovery of that integral self. There are people all over the world who are ready to enter into this process of research and discovery.
The vision of the Mother to create in the Ashram an international university was a way of inviting humanity into this field of discovery. The transfer of that idea to Auroville and to the international zone, was a way of inviting humanity into this field of discovery. But up to now that has not manifested. That strategy for bringing humanity into this field of discovery in a very dynamic way as a laboratory of evolution has not materialized. And I find it interesting to note that at the end of The Ideal of Human Unity, Sri Aurobindo does not hold out much hope for this humanity discovering that unity. He says in fact that the vital need and urge for the realization of unity didnt exist, humanity didnt really feel the need for unity, at that time of writing. There was not a vital need for the realization of its unity. And he also says that the spirit of the religion of humanity that would be a key for moving in the direction of unity, was not any longer a particularly strong living sentiment. The sentiment of the religion of humanity which had been alive at an earlier time he found to have waned. And what was especially missing he said was the spirit of brotherhood, of love and oneness. At the end of the Ideal of Human Unity, he finds this lacking.
But today the situation has changed somewhat. One thing that he did not foresee, that he did not mention at all, except in terms of general principles, is something that is becoming a global awareness of need, and that is the prospect in the next twenty five years of human civilization undergoing quite a radical catastrophic change because of the environment, because of what human beings are doing to the environment. And so this vital need for cooperation, for understanding and unity, is now growing quite strong. It has already led to numerous international, global conferences and changes of laws and shifts in perspective, just in the last few years, regarding our physical self. In the field of evolutionary biology, the idea of the extended phenotype is also quite living today in science - that we are not just these organisms. These organisms are the product of a vast field of interconnected, coevolutionary development that has been going on for three billion years. So there seems to be a need and a readiness today, because of circumstances and because of what Sri Aurobindo clearly identified as the inner urge of Nature, to take a leap towards unity. If we can yoke our inner understanding and aspiration to create this platform for integral knowledge with that global need, then we have a possibility of really being an asset to the earth, really becoming a laboratory for evolution of consciousness, really inviting into this field a humanity that needs to discover its unity and needs to experience a convergence of will towards a next kind of society.
In the ascent towards Supermind, that universalization of consciousness and that will to create from that consciousness is a necessary stage. It is where we have to go. And so this attempt that we are making seems to demonstrate that we feel that urge. It is not new. It was there with the creation of the International University Center, it was there with the vision of the International Zone, and it was there with CIRRHU this old page from the Auroville website clearly expresses this inspiration. Its a spirit; its a ghost; its both a spirit and a ghost. And it is haunting us and it is also enlivening us. And so this opportunity that we have now to begin to explore diverse approaches to knowledge -because the University of Humanity is a path of knowledge devotion and work no doubt, but definitely it is an opening towards the possibility of new knowledge which can be effective in the world. If we can explore very systematically and dynamically, through our various approaches, ways to create this platform and open it to humanity, and ways to support research and an active discovery that is necessary on the earth today, we can, on the basis of what Auroville has already become, grow into a university that offers and opens pathways to discovery that will be meaningful to us as we move along that path and to all of those who will come into it. So thats my invocation for the commencement of this first series of seminars.
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