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April 01

 

United about diversity

The Auroville Economy 2001 Seminar

- by Carel

 

The month of February saw the blossoming of the patient work of a group of Aurovilians who had been studying various economic systems, attempting to bring them together to give a new direction for Auroville's development.

 

It was a busy month. In the field of alternative economy two experts were invited. Gilbert Thiaffey gave a two day workshop on alternative currencies in French, Prof. Margrit Kennedy gave two lectures on the principles of complementary currencies and interest free money. On a Saturday morning in Transition School, a panel of Aurovilians described the state of the present Auroville economy, farming, accounting, and business.

The next Sunday a full day seminar took place in Vérité. The organizing team asked the nearly 60 participating Aurovilians to explore different economic possibilities. The exploration was done on the basis of Mother's symbol, the outer petals representing qualities, the inner ones the four powers of The Mother as described by Sri Aurobindo. Those opting to discuss the Maheshwari aspect were asked to concentrate on the aspect of prosperity, on no exchange of money within Auroville, and on the full surrender to and trust in the Divine. Those opting for the Mahakali aspect were asked to investigate the power of money and how it could be re-conquered for the Divine. The participants in the Mahasaraswati group discussed Auroville as a self-supporting township and, connected to that, the possibility of introducing another means of exchange, complementary to the existing one. The Mahalakshmi group discussed sharing and caring, the promotion of awareness about the each other's needs as a step towards human unity, and the "circle" experiment which has been ongoing for a year. At the end of the day there was a general feeling that all of the proposed models were valid options for Auroville to explore.

Two days later, on the eve of Auroville's 33rd birthday, the organizing team proposed to a gathering of about 250 Aurovilians and guests that all these models should co-exist, stating that they would enhance and support one another, and that each individual should have the freedom to choose to participate in only one model or in several models at the same time. The present economy based on money would thus co-exist with economic models that experiment with the ideal of 'no exchange of money', as well as with a model based on a new, complementary means of exchange for internal transactions.

Practically, it was proposed to find means to attract money for business development and for building the city; to create two new circles - a Prosperity circle where all basic needs are met (similar to the prosperity model set up by Mother in the Ashram), and a Maheshwari circle for those who want to do away with money exchange altogether; and, in addition, to start an experiment with a new electronic means of exchange, called Aurose, which would run parallel to the existing system. Aurose, it was said, would stimulate collective abundance, promote the manufacture of goods for internal consumption, and be a means to progressively arrive at a 'no exchange of money' economy in Auroville. These models will have to be further elaborated in the weeks to come, and all interested Aurovilians were asked to join in this work.
After some inner contemplation and a question-and-answer session, it was apparent that most of those present experienced a sense of satisfaction and agreement with the proposals. There was also a feeling of excitement that finally something in the field of the Auroville economy was moving again, even though none present could predict in which way the proposals would ultimately develop. What was truly amazing was the sense of joy and quiet power that the people experienced in the final meditation .

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