Meditating in the Matrimandir, Finding the Perfect Volunteer Job, Learning Ancient Indian Martial Arts

Day 53
Pondicherry, India

Yesterday was one of the most memorable days of my trip so far and it just seemed that everything went perfectly right. It is a very good sign of things to come. It was as if the world was coming together just for me and my path was being illuminated as to what will be on the horizon.

I began the morning by hitchhiking (my new preferred way of traveling in India as everyone has a motorcycle and it takes only a few minutes for someone to stop) from Pondicherry to Auroville and going with a group to meditate in the Matrimandir. An external picture can be seen in the top image of the post from yesterday. It just blows my mind that I am getting the opportunity to meditate in this wonderful structure as often as I want over the course of the next month.

It is special to me in the fact that it was envisioned and designed by people that knew that they would never get a chance to see or experience it physically, but they built it anyways for people like me and others to utilize in the future. It was envisioned in the 1960s and took over 30 years to build from the 1970s until its final completion in May of 2008.

When entering, there is a very slow and methodical process, which I believe suits its nature. We had a group of around 40 people and they asked us all to be silent as we entered near the bottom into a lower chamber room. As we came in, they provided fresh socks to walk throughout the building. It felt like a mixture of Star Wars and Star Trek (different worlds for those non sci-fi fans ) and some utopic vision of the future.

The middle chamber we entered after putting on socks in the lower chamber. The stairs lead to the upper chamber and crystal ball.

There were no less than ten volunteer “Aurovillians” there to help us throughout the whole structure, which shows their belief and reverence for the sacredness of it. It also worked for me and sent the right message. This was a place for seriousness, not a place for games even if it looked like it could exist in EPCOT. Although everyone was silent, I had a huge smile on my face the entire time, but it was a seriously happy smile.

As a “full-time” regular meditator, this was like me stepping into Wrigley Stadium or perhaps whatever the newest most bad-ace stadium is in the world. I felt like a gladiator coming into the Roman Colosseum, ready to take on anything thrown at me. I immediately noticed how it was “different” from normal meditation areas and what it had been built for.

When we entered into the inner chamber I was just enamored. It is a large spherical floating chamber with the world’s largest crystal in the center and a ray of sunlight that enters it from above, which provides a perfect amount of light for the room. It is the quietest room I have ever been in and I believe its purpose is to replicate that of a cave, but it is quieter than a cave as there are no bats or drafts, although I could feel a very slight cool breeze without being able to notice where it was coming from.

As I sat down, the ringing in my ears was extremely loud. This is ok though and is a good sign of a place suitable for meditation. I immediately went into my practice and knew I had found the place that I had been looking for to move further down the path.

The inner chamber.

Unfortunately, we only had around 10-15 minutes to meditate as the group was mostly inexperienced, but I found out that after one’s first trip there, it is possible to come back whenever and stay there for an extended period of time, something that I fully intend of taking maximum advantage of. This place was built for me; that is how I felt and feel.

After finishing, we left back the way we came, through the middle chamber and lower chamber depositing our socks and then to underneath where there is another smaller crystal ball surrounded by a descending waterfall fountain. It is also a special place and in every direction there are 12 individual meditation rooms for 5-6 people each. (Can this place get any better?)

November 2009, Auroville, India --- Auroville (City of Dawn) was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa. The Matrimandir, which means Temple of the Mother, is situated at the center of the experimental city of Auroville. --- Image by © Frederic Soltan/Corbis
Underneath the Matrimandir. — Image by © Frederic Soltan/Corbis

Supposedly after the individual extended meditation in the inner chamber, one can spend an unlimited time in these smaller cells. Afterwards, we walked through a small forest with a huge banyan tree next to the Matrimandir. I had seen photos of this at night and it looks just like the scene in Avatar where they are meditating around the “Mother” tree. I am sure I will spend some time here as well.

Volunteer Interview

During the guided tour and meditation, I met a follow volunteer from Germany named Joanna. She is there on an internship for her studies in Berlin. She had a scooter and so gave me a ride to my volunteering interview a little outside of Auroville at a place called Cholla Gardens. She wished me luck and in I went!

The interview went amazing! I had been trying so hard to find the “right” job the past week and it just was not working out. I had to surrender and let God show me where to go. Finally it happened. I have realized that so often I have some idea of what I would like to do or go, but when I just surrender God will show me something better than even I could have imagined and later on I am just so grateful. I feel like this is going to be one of those experiences. It is the perfect place, perfect job, with a perfect couple, at the perfect price. (Even volunteering costs a little at most places these days.) I’m less than a kilometer from the beach.

The two owners are a sweet little couple and I just had an instant connection to both, even though they are different in their own ways. The man is in his later years, he was or is a world traveler born in England, and he is an artist and quite jolly all around. The woman is of Indian or Tamil descent, she is perhaps a decade or two younger, and also full of life. Our conversation just went perfectly and by the end, Geoff, was just as excited as I was and let me know “that I had scored”, meaning that I had “won” the job, since they had interviewed people before but I was to be their first volunteer. It really felt like pure fate and like something that I would have designed for myself (which I have talked a little about in the past).

Above is a picture of a part of their land, which is around 2 to 2.5 acres. The main “job” is that they need a way to generate an income and so they want to build a few huts or bungalows to be able to rent out as part of an eco-village. They mentioned multiple times that they have next to zero money and no budget so we will have to build out of what we have available. With this being said, it is possible to build houses in the adobe-style and so that is my job over the next month. Here is a great article on the Matador Network about how I will do it.

I will do my best, in this short amount of time, to design, draft, and build them 1-2 houses and corresponding compost toilets. At least I can get them started. I will add a small amount of donations from the site to get started and we will just see where it goes. I am confident I can build the foundations out of stone that they have collected near the site and I can also build the compost toilets semi-cheaply. I already started researching some design ideas and here are a few pictures of them below.

adobe hut cal-earth
Very Hobbit-ish. I like it.
East side of earthbag roundhouse.  Note finished earthbag bench.  Go to our Earthbag Building Blog for more details:
Something like this would be nice.
Potential interior. Mad cute.

So this will be what I am focusing on over the course of the next month before I go to Sri Lanka. Very exciting as it seems what I have been doing the past few years has been leading to this moment. I have always been a builder, ever since I was young. This is a step beyond as it is total creative control building a livable dwelling for almost free. I have heard it takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. I want to become a master. One day I will perhaps build my own home in the same method and I feel I would make my Native American ancestors, who lived in huts like these (Or so I would like to believe), proud.

After the Interview

On my way back from the interview I met an amazing young Indian man who invited me to come and learn about Kalaripayattu, one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world. I checked out their site and found this picture of a demonstration with a weapon called an otta.

This is what it posted about the weapon. “The otta is the most important weapon in Kalaripayattu. It is a wooden weapon, and it is carved out from a tamarind wood. This weapon was never used in battle, though it is considered as the most important weapon. They say that if a person practices Otta, then his studies in Kalaripayattu is complete, because practicing Otta is learning the grammar of Kalaripayattu. Otta is the only weapon which includes all the “18 ADAVUKAL” ( sequences). Otta fight is a battle between An Elephant and A Lion. This picture was from TANTROTSAV at Kalarigram, Auroville. This was a performance between Lakshman Gurukkal and Vinod Gurukkal.”

I’m excited to learn as much as I can about Kalaripayattu and the otta. Tomorrow after my first individual meditation at the Matrimandir, I will go check out their center, and then move to Cholla Gardens and get to work on the eco-villlage. Exciting times. And oh yeah, meditation is going super well, but that is all I will say for now. 🙂

List of daily expenses and donations between June 6th and June 12th 2015:

Total spent on food: $30.72
Room: $15.71
Random: $3.85
Travel: $1.70
Total: $80.97 + 297.28 = 378.25 divided by 52 days = $7.27 per day

Donations given to random strangers and sadhus = 110 Indian rupees or $1.73
(Will be using nearly the rest of the money for the upcoming building project)
Total = $1059.40 + 1.73 = $1061.13 divided by 52 days = $20.41 per day

Expense account = $352 – 80.97 = $271.03 left (Avg. $7.27 per day will last 37 more days)
Donations account = $90.18 – 1.73 = $88.45 left (Avg $20.41 per day will last 4 more days)


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This American Sadhu

Wandering traveler, writing a story, contemplating spiritual stuff, living austere, and helping random strangers... all rolled into ONE. What fun!

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