AVI MEETING in Italy
7 to 14 October 2006
Second and third daily report
We spent Wednesday morning in an experiment in communication set up by Kathy.
She gave some background of the "Dream Catcher" group in Auroville and their use of Deep Dialogue techniques of passing a "talking stick" (from the Native American tradition) and asked us to give some personal raison d'etre for our connection with AVI and Auroville.(see below)
It was a stretch, with over 20 people from seven countries sitting in a circle with only two hours to give a thumbnail sketch of their deep calling, but it worked.
At least it worked in achieving what former AVI Treasurer Alain Grandcolas used to measure the success of any of our meetings. Gradually, the atmosphere of the circle deepened. The qualities of honesty, sincerity, transparency and transformation touched and opened our hearts.
Tears flowed. We weren't negotiating through some difficult controversy, but rather a process to experiment with "collective intelligence". Our sharing seemed to create an opening to a deeper level. The most delightful revelations seemed to come from those who were most skeptical (of the process, of AVI) or most enigmatic (being lost in Auroville in the dark).
Some wonderful lines emerged including,"I came to Auroville to lend a hand, and it took my whole body!".
In the afternoon, a core group worked through the details of our Meeting Agenda, trying to be sure that every topic was touched upon as the sand in the hourglass trickled out.
Our overall conclusion was that there was not enough time and the sharing could have gone on much longer and that the "action plan" for topics brought up in the afternoon was not complete. Indeed there seems to be a quiet crisis in most of the AVI Centers of too much work, not enough "staff" or income and a vast and multi-leveled program before us.
Sound familiar? We will attempt to address some of these concerns during the reports of the Centers on Friday.
We took a late afternoon trip to see an elaborate cistern built by the Romans in 1 AD above Formia. Water allocation was prioritized to the wealthy patricians from Rome , then to the baths (where important meetings were held) and finally to the taps and fountains for the people. We walked down three flights of stairs onto a floating platform (which rocked under our feet). I believe 7000 cubic meters was the figure for the capacity.
We went from there to a special meeting of the Formia Council where the Mayor wanted to greet us. We expected a half hour of formalities and a thank you and a photo or two. The Council of thirty members took place in a large conference room above the municipal building in a hall filled to capacity as there was another group being recognized along with us. We heard some speeches in Italian referring to Auroville, but many were concerning the plight of the Sahrawi.
Formia has hosted a number of Sahrawi children each summer over the past few years and are very sympathetic with their cause. A Governor, representing them, gave a talk as did the Mayor with translation into English.
We felt more like we were at the UN than a local town council meeting.
We came out very late to a concert being held in our honor of violin and pianoforte. The program was in progress. We heard the end of Schubert's Rondeau Brilliant. This was followed by some some challenging Fritz Kreisler pieces. Due to the late hour, our host got up to thank the musicians before the final piece on the program, Piazzolla's "Le Grand Tango". Fortunately some audience members requested the piece and we were treated to an excellent rendition played from memory by Nademlynska Zoya. It was clearly her favorite and ours.
We then made a pilgrimage back near the cistern for "authentic wood fired brick oven pizza". It, and all the regional appetizers of immense caloric content (fried cheeses, etc.) were spectacular. Mayor Sandro Bartolomeo and his wife, Jasmine had some interesting discussions with Marco and Meemo about Auroville over dinner. As it was her birthday, we ended the evening singing to her and rolled out into the night.
At least a few of those calories were worked off today in Pompeii where Toine, who has been connected with the Ashram and Auroville (having stayed with Mali in the mid seventies), is a tour guide. Toine was very well informed, had an excellent sense of humor, and truly put himself back in time to interpret the archeological evidence and the society including interesting anecdotes about Pliny, the admiral of the Roman Fleet killed in the eruption. He and his wife both work as guides in order to save up and go to Pondy, which they will do in a few weeks. It was a wonderful "coincidence".
Sixteen of us headed after dinner to "Centro Yoga Savitri" some 20 km away. Antonio teaches Iyengar yoga. The studio, which just opened August 15th is large and beautiful. Gabriele Bassi gave a commendable solo cello performance of Bach's Suite in D Major. Devasmita then gave an impromptu Odissi dance performance to the poem "Who" read by AVI Vice President Sonia Dyne. She then involved everyone in a Gujarati Folk Dance.
The evening ended with Shraddhavan reading selections from "Savitri" and other poems by Sri Aurobindo. It was a lovely evening of cross cultural sharing.
We are more than ready for dreamtime...
Meet you there! Julian
For the record, I would just like to correct that the deep dialogue practice is one being experimented with by the AV vision 2012 group (which happens to include some dream catchers and a free association of others interested in this method) and in addition to a talking stick, it includes the use of some specific guidelines which create the conditions for emergence of an opening to a deeper space in our being from where we communicate. Indeed, it was a very special and beautiful atmosphere and as Julian has expressed so eloquently, this whole week has been unfolding in a very special way with a wee bit too much time pressure for all the more businessy stuff but we are managing....
Today we will have reports from AVI centres and, in the afternoon, reports on Auroville projects. Marc Luykxx will also join us this afternoon and tomorrow of course, our "Big Day" of interaction with
Formia council and residents at which Mr Doudou Diene will also be a guest speaker. More about that will follow.
Much love to you all,