Saravanan Mahalingam from India completed an 8-month community exchange programme between Auroville and Findhorn recently. Before he left we talked to him about his experiences and impressions of community life on three continents.
Saravanan, when did your journey to Europe and Findhorn start? What inspired you to come?
10 years ago I came across a book Linking the Future which talked about what the world can learn from the three communities Auroville, Arcosanti in the US, and Findhorn. Rather than read the book I thought, Why don’t I go and see it for myself? I was born in Auroville, so I only had two more to go!
In 2004 and 2005 I went to Arcosanti and in October 2010 I contacted Findhorn, my community exchange was arranged, and within a week I was here.
And what is your conclusion, what can the world learn from these three communities?
The three communities are quite different from each other, but they have a common thread. Something we can learn from all of them is that community is not an outer concept, it exists in every human being. These three places provide the opportunity to explore your own sense of community living.
Another thread through all of them is spirituality. If you are in touch with spirituality all the rest will be simpler. Simplicity is the key to spirituality for me. When you can understand your basic needs that is the start of the spiritual journey. A lot of environmental issues could be solved by being simple.
Findhorn is more communal than Auroville because it is smaller. At Auroville there are about 2,500 residents from 45 countries, the majority from India, and the community kitchen serves vegetarian food every day for about 1,000 people.
You have been in Cullerne Garden most of your time in Findhorn. What would be your ideal for agriculture and growing of food in communities and globally?
Everybody needs food. Food security is one of the biggest problems we are facing today. We have to change our conventional way of eating, shopping and growing food towards more organic and regionally or locally grown food.
Auroville produces about 5% of its own food, and Arcosanti has some vegetable gardens but not many, but I especially like the new experiments with Permaculture here at Findhorn.
Did you also join other departments while you were at Findhorn and what else did you like about being here?
I had the chance to get to know most of the departments and I particularly like the ‘love in action’ approach and the attunements, check-ins and sharing time. It is also a good chance to meet like-minded people from all over the world. Ideas get cross-fertilized like that.
If people want to visit Auroville, what is the best way to do it?
There are some opportunities for work exchange, but there are no centrally organised workshops and guest programmes like there are at Findhorn. We have a guesthouse that you can contact via the website www.auroville.org. Personally, I would like to invite everybody who is interested in Auroville to come and visit; you can also contact me via email:
What are your dreams and visions for the future?
My plan is to work for food security on this planet. I want to inspire as many people as possible to grow their own food – not only in Auroville but anywhere in the world.
Thank you Saravanan for this interview and for being with us in Findhorn, gardening with us, cooking with us and inspiring us!