Dagmar Maria Degen

Always interested in political processes, I was tempted to become a member of the Green Party when it made its first step. I wanted to be part of a group that changes something for society, for the world. Watching political processes I felt that being a member of a political party would not be the right step for me if I wanted to reach what I really wanted. But one thing was clear: nobody should support the army.

So I tried to convince my friends who had been called for their army serice(which was compulsory at that time), not to go. Also, being active in school life, I got an award from my school for my social engagement.
One day in 1986, while I was in the midst of my training to become an optician, a friend came home from a trip to India and said: “You have to see it, you have to go there.” In summer 1987 I left Germany and hitchhiked to France, Austria, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey. From Athens I took a plane to Kathmandu. After three months in Nepal I set my foot on Indian soil on December 18th, 1987. I went by bus from the Nepalese border to Varanasi. Observing the people, seeing the contradictions, I already felt like coming home without being able to express why. I spent eight weeks in Varanasi, met the Dalai Lama in Sarnath and celebrated the Kala Chakra with Budhists from all over the world.
The experiences touched me deeply and I was fascinated to meet all these Indian people Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, Christians and travellers from all over the world. In the middle of this atmosphere I felt that this was where I belonged.
i went further along the east coast as far as Pondicherry. The Sri aurobindo Ashram was the first ashram I had ever visited in y life. On the way to Auroville I passed Kuilappalayam and the atmosphere felt different from all other places in India I had seen before. I went to the building site of the Matrimandir. the building, even though it wasnt finished, left me stunned…
In the Matrimandir camp I meet Jaap. I looked at the construction drawings and he started to explain details. Deeply touched, I decided that I would definitely visit Auroville again when the Matrimandir was finished, even if I did not know then where my adventure would lead me. Back in Ponicherry I looked for the books of Sri aurobindo. the title the Ideal of Human Unity was pulling me. Already the first chapter was a revelation. I literally absorbed every word of this book. With the impressions from the Sri aurobindo ashram, Auroville and the book, I travelled further to the north of India. After one year in India with a completely changed outlook, full of all the experiences, fascinated by the Hindu philosophy and even more fascinated by the Sanskrit language, which for me was the language of the gods, I started studying Sanskrit. Travelling to India every year, I always stayed in the Sri aurobindo Ashram in New Delhi when I was there.
In 1996 I went to Auroville again. matrimandir fascinated me but a few people were somehow exhausting, so I wanted to leave. When I was just about to leave I stepped down from the cycle and took some of this red earth into my hand and it felt to me as if the Mother was in every grain of this earth. Instead of leaving I found myself working in the Matrimandir. The second time this feeling of coming home was deeper, different but more secure. I had reached a point where I felt I could start contributing in the right way to this society where I was supposed to give whatever I had to give. It felt so right and the next stepof the search began.
Back home I came into contact with AVi Germany. I felt happy to find people who were also in contact with Auroville, always busy with the idea of supporting Auroville, contributing all the time. Visiting the AVI meetings in Germany and getting to know the members of AVI Germany over the years I am now a member of the Board. Together with the others I organize the AVI Germany meetings. When we have the meetings we feel the presence of the Mother and of auroville. There are always Aurovilians participating, so we all feel we are a part of Auroville. At this point I want to mention that not one day passes without receiving mails, phone calls, questions, contacts concerning Auroville matters, Aurovilians, Auroville projects. I also appreciate that on the Board we always try to make decisions by consensus. This challenges my tolerance and also my patince, but in the end it always feels good.

Courtesy: Auroville International, the worldwide network of Auroville Friends.

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