Ruud Lohman came to Auroville in 1971 and immediately became involved with the excavation for the Matrimandir. He continued to work on the Matrimandir until he passed away in July, 1986. These extracts are from his book, A House for the Third Millennium: Essays on Matrimandir, published by Alain Grandcolas in 1986.
When I studied theology, they kept harping on ‘symbol' and ‘reality'. Matrimandir falls right between both: it's too symbolic to be real and too real to be symbolic. It often happens that I'll be walking home after five or six hours work at Matrimandir, and I'll turn round to see if it's really there. It's visible from my room in the Matrimandir Workers' Camp, and when I wake up in the morning I often take a look just to make sure it really exists. And yes, it's really there! But somewhere not really real – or rather, too real for our ordinary earth eyes: it's a sort of reality we're not used to. After I have looked at Matrimandir, all other things about me are for a moment not real, not really there. But then, the Matrimandir is not only symbolic, either – it's too real for that. A symbol doesn't give you callouses. And here we get to the heart of the thing. More than being merely a symbol of, in an important sense it is the Mater Mundi, the Mother of the World. This time, in this great incarnation, the Mater really did dive down fully into it and didn't keep sitting on the edge of the cosmos smiling down at us. This time the circle closed. Hoc est enim corpus meum, this is my body, the Mater traversed all the layers of consciousness and reality and went to the source, the arch-reality, the beginning of pure matter, for there She is in her element.
Last night I dreamed that I was in the Mother's room – the Mater Humana who lived in an Ashram in Pondicherry and who, when she was about ninety years of age, came forward with the idea of Auroville and founded an international community to hasten the evolution, to build a runway for the superjets of the Supermind. She is One with whom you want to be one: that's the deepest aspiration of your being. Well, in the dream, when I went toward her to merge into her, she pointed to a door in her room which stood open, and through it I looked straight into the upper Chamber of the Matrimandir. “Enter there,” she said. “This is my body…”
There are always two trends at Matrimandir. One is the ongoing process of the construction, professional – though done mostly by amateurs – a bit boring, with much perspiration, but also much joy; and there is the other trend about which one feels like keeping silent, whispering it, or expressing it in poems, love-songs or a free-flow of feelings; it is that level of reality where Matrimandir seems to open up hidden springs in the being. It is this trend that expresses indications and intimations of a growing ‘Presence', of crises in one's own being, of all those countless ‘coincidences', of all those beautiful harmonies and divine teasing jokes (like the day when we finally reached the very top with the pipe-structure and fixed a final structural iron scaffolding cross on its summit, we discovered it was a Good Friday, precisely three o'clock). Some people here at Matrimandir are wary of this plane of reality; they distrust ‘visions' and ‘numbers' and ‘coincidence' and prefer to stick to the precision of the measurements and the hardness of steel and concrete. Others just love this kind of play – and I am surely one of them. Matrimandir for me is full of humour, laughter, playfulness, fun. It is a laborious work, too; fabricating and installing twelve hundred almost identical beams becomes a boring task after you've done the first couple of hundred; that space frame, the outer sheath, of Matrimandir, has kept us busy now for almost five years and we are looking forward to its completion. But through the seemingly endless labour, there always shimmers that unexpressed ‘Something' that is so special to Matrimandir, that playfulness in the air, a dance of Laughter and Light. It isn't really serious, it's a big Game, it is not what it is, it is nothing of what we think or feel it is, it is totally, frighteningly different. There is a fear of ‘defining' it. Well, one never could, it's too slippery, too alien, too far advanced; and I feel that the most outrageous wordplays are still insufficient, the most daring comparisons fall short of the mark.