I still believe in the magic of Auroville. I believe that it has a destiny in which we don’t have much say.
How I ended up here? To be perfectly frank, I came here looking for Jan, my wife at the time, and our first child. Our life in Sydney had been pretty turbulent. Although I had been to university and studied architecture, it was the sixties, and we were living sometimes without food. In the end Jan decided that I was hopeless and she took Jonas and went to Pondicherry.
I often think that many of the first Aurovillians that came had a common experience: somewhere in their lives they had a contact with Mother somehow. I was right up in the north of Australia where you have deep rainforests, on my birthday, the 2nd of Feb 1970. I got really badly lost. And I really got to a point where I was in such despair that I sat down with my head in my hands, asking “What is going on?” And then I got up and when I turned around, there was a gate. This was around 2 o’clock, the time at which Jan said she took my photo to the Mother. For me that was a powerful connecting experience.
When I came here, Jan already had a house on the beach. I had actually come for a week, just to say hello, but when I came everybody seemed glad to see me so I stayed.
I worked with a small group of villagers, in particular Ramu from Bommayarpalayam. I must say, the minute I got to India I felt I had come home. I felt at ease with lungis and a big beard. If you have studied architecture, you have many ideas but you never get to do anything. But with bamboo and casurina and keet ropes you can do, and it doesn’t matter what mistakes you make, it is not concrete. I didn’t even think about leaving.
Jan was very keen that we join Auroville. I went and asked formally to the Mother whether myself and Jan and Jonas could join Auroville. We got a little note the same day saying it was okay.
The first time I saw the Mother was on my birthday in 1972. You were supposed to take a flower and hand it to her. The Ashramites were quite clever because they would take a really nice flower and put it in the refrigerator for the night – because Mother had said at one point that flowers stay fresh in the hands of spiritually realised people! (laughs) Aurovilians had to come down the road and picked a flower on their way; it melted in my hand like ice cream.
When your turn comes, you go in and the Mother is sitting on a big chair. You sit there and you slowly raise your eyes and these incredible kohl-black eyes are staring down at you and… I personally saw her twice on two birthdays. I felt a very powerful connection to her. I had the feeling that she knew me, supported me.”
This is an excerpt from the book ‘Turning Points’ by Auroville Press.
To read more about Johnny’s journey, have a look at the book here.