The Auroville Charter makes education a defining characteristic of life in Auroville. There is a need however to make certain distinctions between education as it is commonly understood, and education as mentioned by Mother in the Auroville Charter and practiced in Auroville.
Education is usually understood as a course of study to acquire a body of knowledge or skills undertaken to enhance one's ability to do a particular job and be able to earn more money. The more liberal definitions of education, where it is understood as development and refinement of one's personality, without necessarily an eye to economic advantage, have been out of use for long, and one finds only scattered instances of the practice of education with such aims. Even so, what has been envisaged for Auroville is far beyond and above the goals set by liberal education. In relation to the education offered at the Centre of Education at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Mother had pointed out that "We are not here to do (only a little better) what others do. We are here to do what others cannot do because they do not have the idea that it can be done."
Man’s place in the world
Sri Aurobindo and Mother do not reject the utilitarian or liberal perspectives. These form a very small part of their total vision of education, which is based on a deep understanding of the human personality, of man's place in the world, of the world itself and its position in the order of the worlds, of how these worlds influence and impinge on the human personality, of the nature of creation, - and deriving from all these, the aim of human existence.
Man is seen as a multi-layered being composed of the physical, vital and emotional, mental, psychic and spiritual personalities. Each of these is further sub-divided, and each has a counterpart on subtle planes surrounding the body. There is within man a spark of the transcendent divine, and the aim of human existence, as seen by Auroville's founders, is to become conscious of this reality and unite with it. Each human being has his/her unique path to arrive at this union, and this can be done in life, in matter itself, and not by removing oneself from life as advocated by traditional spiritual practices.
Higher levels of consciousness
So far, man has developed mainly the physical, mental and vital parts of his being, but now there is an evolutionary thrust to develop still higher parts, which are contained within man and known as the supramental personality. By the use of mind, man has now created a complex structure of society using stupendous advances in technology which have gone out of control. Only a move to higher levels of consciousness can save the human race.
In the light of this high vision underlying Auroville, the internal dynamics of the township are set in such a way that all its residents are under constant pressure to exceed themselves, to continually seek self-perfection. These pressures exist everywhere in the world at this moment in time - yet there is a difference. Firstly, due to the collective nature of Auroville the intensity here is much greater and, secondly, its participants have the guidance of Mother and Sri Aurobindo for understanding and correctly handling these pressures. As each has a unique path to follow, the guidance to each comes by establishing contact with the psychic being within.
Auroville contains many different individuals of varying nationality, background and karmic path. Despite the great diversity among them, it can generally be said that the movement of each individual on his/her path to self perfection and growth in consciousness is what we ‘live’ in Auroville as "unending education".