Jean Neal

This is to inform the community that in the afternoon of Friday 10 July, our dear sister Jean Neal, wife of Bob Neal, peacefully left her body at the age of 86 in her UK home. She had been in constant pain for years and had got to the point where communication was not possible anymore.

Jean was a lively, amazing woman who already in the early seventies was part of London’s ‘Bell Street’ group that regularly came together to study works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In 1998 Bob and Jean came to Auroville where, while living in Sri Ma, Bob would see many an Aurovilian in his capacity as healer using Samalin chiropractic and bio-magnetic techniques. Jean, who had from young age onwards a second sight & hearing ability, would assist Aurovilians in different ways by giving ‘Beyond the 5th sense’ and other workshops and one-to-one treatment sessions.

Unfortunately, Jean’s health gradually started deteriorating, causing the couple to leave in April 2006. They both joined AVI UK and worked from there, although Jean’s health remained troublesome.

Thank you Jean for having been with us;  our sincerest condolences go out to Bob and other family members.


Vikas (Alan Vickers)

A progression of seemingly chance encounters on a personal search for something other than the conventional road map for petty success and happiness in this life lead up to a moment on top of atruck en rouote to Kathmandu, where something more than just words about the teaching of Sri Aurobindo and Mother, a lived inner peace and light in a seventeen year old make me realise that I must go to the source and perhaps find the meaningful existence that I had been seeking.

Realizing that the world was a mess was ofcourse the discovery that I too was a mess and that if I wanted to make something more true and beautiful of this life around me, the place to start was myself and then perhaps to live in community with similarly concerned individuals. Thus Mother and Auroville came into my life, and over the course of the years the long, slow revelation of Sri Aurobindo’s light and living, constant action. What a grace, what fortune!

After an initial explosion of inner progress and joy, jump-started by meeting Mother and being given my name ‘Vikas’ (Progress), there followed a sine curve plunge and a recrudescence of all that had to go out of my personal evolution. At the time I had taken up smoking dope again, indulging in casual sex and becoming for Auroville a waste of space. This was the time of the Auroville wars and physically I was emaciated and low, so I returned to UK and started working as an architect, got married and started a family. Yoga took a holiday for some years.

When I revisited Auroville my heart was again opened to its dire necessity and purpose in a world on a progressively self-destructive trajectory. All world and personal events were screaming the message: nothing really changes unless the consciousness changes. Ironically, nowhere does this truism make itself more evident than in Auroville itself. Through our own lives and through Auroville International we can perhaps work for Auroville to be a living demonstration of the truth it was created to manifest.

Sonia Dyne

I was living in Singapore with my husband and five young children. My life was busy ( I was doing freelance editorial work and some teaching) but I was becoming more and more aware that something important was missing from my life – something I had to do.

One day, while watching my children’s swimming lesson at the Singapore Island Club, a small leaflet, which had been placed among the ‘Life Saving Manuals’ on a nearby shelf, caught my eye. I pulled it out: the first page showed a photo of Sri Aurobindo (an arresting face, I thought); the second page was about his role in politics); the third page gave a brief account of the Integral Yoga; the fourth page changed my life – with seven lines from Savitri.

A magic leverage suddenly is caught

That moves the veiled Ineffable’s timeless will:

A prayer, a master act, a king idea

Can link man’s strength to a transcendent Force.

Then miracle is made the common rule,

One mighty deed can change the course of things;

A lonely thought becomes omnipotent.

The date was May 1st, 1973. In the Ashram at Pondicherry the Mother had retired to her room, but looking back to that day I feel that something of her force had swept over the world and caught up people here and there in the wake of her comet trail, for although I had never heard of Sri Aurobindo or the Mother before, those few lines struck me with the power of a revelation and I knew that I needed to discover more. It is not easy at this distance in time, to recapture the sudden illumination that flooded into my mind as I read what this unknown poet had written. Some special grace must have prevented me from trying, out of habit, to submit it to some sort of critical analysis at first glance, for that might have prevented the experience of an overwhelming certainty that this message of hope, with its implicit rejection of human powerlessness and incapacity, was the way out of our human dilemma. There was no internet available to me in those days, no address on the leaflet, and a trawl of bookshops yielded no result; so I had to wait until July 1976 for the next stage of my journey to begin.

The whole family had gone with friends on a boat trip to an off-shore island. A picnic lunch was prepared as the children played on the beach. Then history seemed to repeat itself as my eye caught sight of a two-line item in the local newspaper announcing that Shri M.P> Pandit from Sri Aurobindo Ashram would be giving a talk that very evening at the Ramakrishna Mission. Here was the opportunity I had been waiting for!

However it took all my powers of persuasion to convince the rest of the party that their hostess needed to call an end to the picnic and return immediately to Singapore. Persistence was rewarded for I not only learned who Sri Aurobindo was but also met many members of the Singapore Indian community who had close links with the Ashram. Some of them had been to Auroville in those early years, and it was from this contact that my interest developed, until in the late nineteen-seventies I was finally able to visit India, Pondicherry and Auroville itself for the first time. In later years, my work with AVI UK has brought me into ever closer contact with Auroville and with dedicated people throughout the world who have understood the importance of its destiny to be the cradle of a new consciousness.

Edith and Joy

Edith Schnapper and Joy Calvert started their work for Auroville from their beautiful home of Boytons near Saffron Walden in Essex.

Edith and Joy opened up Boytons, a 600 year old farmhouse in 5 acres of gardens and meadows, as an informal Auroville Centre, for holding weekend gatherings for the study of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, for sharing news of Auroville, and for providing hospitality to visiting Aurovilians. They themselves kept up a lively connection with Auroville, supporting many of its projects, and visiting every year until they died. Boytons became a home away from home for many Aurovilians and supporters of Auroville, and one of the earliest AVI International meetings was held there in 1983.

Edith sadly passed away in 1991 and Boytons was reluctantly sold. A piece from the AVI UK newsletter for that year described the place that was so sadly missed:

All of us who have visited, for even a few hours will remember the extraordinary beauty of the house and its gardens, the wonderful stillness, and feeling of light, especially in that most magical of places, Krishna’s Garden. Boytons was an experience which none of us will forget. A small piece of Auroville found in the middle of the English countryside, as many Aurovilians expressed it, an oasis of peace.