In The Ashram
Ashram has been created with another object that that ordinarily common
to such institutions, not for the renunciation of the world but as a
centre and field of practice for
the evolution of another kind and form of life which
would in the final end be moved by a higher spiritual consciousness
a greater life of the spirit.
Meaning of Work
& Co-operation in Work
A community the size of the
Sri Aurobindo Ashram naturally requires a considerable amount of work
to keep it going. Most of this is done by members. The primary purpose
of the work, however, is not to satisfy any practical or economic need,
or to be a means for the self-expression of the members, but to provide
a field for their spiritual growth. As Sri Aurobindo once wrote, "work
done in the Ashram" is done not "as a service to humanity" or even as
a service to the sadhaks of the Ashram, but "as a service to the Divine
and as a field for the inner opening to the Divine, surrender to the
Divine alone, rejection of ego and all the ordinary vital movements
and the training in a psychic elevation, selflessness, obedience, renunciation
of all mental, vital or other self-assertion of the limited personality".
The Mother expressed the same idea more succinctly: "To work for the
Divine is to pray with the body."
Work is done by all, and it
is done without remuneration. Sadhaks strive for perfection not in hopes
of advancement, but in order to make their labour a more fitting offering
to the Divine. What is important is not the nature of the work or the
amount accomplished, but the attitude in which it is done. In the Ashram
work is not graded according to common notions of "high" and "low".
In the Mother's words, "It is not what you do that matters, but the
way you do it and the consciousness you put into it. Remember the Divine
unceasingly, and all that you do will express the Divine Presence. When
you consecrate all your actions to the Divine, there will no longer
be any higher or lower activities, all will have an equal importance:
that conferred on them by the consecration."
During the Mother's lifetime
all work was done under her supervision, either directly or through
the intermediary of departmental heads. Today the departmental heads
remain, but their work is co-ordinated by a central administration.
This arrangement necessarily involves an organisational hierarchy, but
this does not imply that sadhaks are considered as superior or inferior according to the type of work that they do.
Everyone is seen as part of a diverse but interrelated whole. None is
independent, neither the heads of departments nor the workers. The need
for co-operation is recognised by all.
Each of the Ashram's departments
grew up in answer to a particular need of the community. Essential services,
those connected with boarding, lodging, clothing and health, were the
first to be organized. Later departments expressive of the Ashram’s
diverse artistic and cultural life took shape. “We do not want
to exclude any of the world’s activities.”