The Soul of the Nations

Most people with some understanding of world history know that conflict and crises have always been an integral part of the experience of nations. Today, however, something seems different. For the first time, we’re hearing references to “the soul of the nation” as a rallying cry. What are the implications of this appeal? Does it intend to appeal to the nationalism of the people, a tendency to which the writings of Alice Bailey say most of us are all too inclined? Is it a call to isolationism, cultural hegemony and to a sense of exceptionalism which underlies most patriotic fervor? If so, it would be futile, because as the inflow of Aquarian energies increases, bringing the stimulus of the sense of synthesis, of wholeness and of interrelationship, appeals to nationalism, patriotism and the desire to close borders and isolate from the larger world would defy the incoming tide of global forces.

At the same time, it’s clear that each nation has a particularity which is derived from its unique history, cultural values and placement within the family of nations. This unique quality transcends and sometimes contradicts all outer visible indications because it’s an attribute of the soul. Just as a human being is the manifestation of a soul as well as a personality—a higher Self and its outer manifestation, often called the “lower self”—so are nations dual in makeup. Usually the personality aspect or ray is the dominant factor, we’re told, while the soul ray can be sensed only by the disciples and aspirants of any nation. “This soul ray must be evoked into an increased functioning activity by the new group of world servers”, Alice Bailey wrote, “for this is one of their main objectives and tasks.”

In some ways it’s easier to see the outer personality of a nation, as expressed in the national desire life, the glamours and illusions shared by the general population and which constitute the national psychological traits. These characteristics are often so visible that they can easily feed stereotypes, providing shortcuts that bypass the effort needed to gain a deep understanding of the complexity of a nation and its people. In today’s world the effects of mass migration and urbanization mean that there are very few homogeneous nations remaining, and in the case of a number of nations the complexity and variety of their citizenry are incredibly mixed. In addition, we’re told that the influence which is most dominant, most easily identifiable, is the personality factor, while that quality which seeks to emerge is indicated by the soul ray and astrological ascendant. The expression of the personality often manifests in material values and seeks to strengthen the separative tendencies of a nation, while that more subjective quality which seeks to emerge is indicated by the soul ray and astrological ascendant. A study of national soul and personality characteristics as given in Bailey’s The Destiny of the Nations reveals insightful clues to the destinies of the world’s major nations.

Gigantic thoughtforms speak through a nation, Alice Bailey wrote; they are a national thoughtform or a self-concept which has been built up over the centuries by the thoughts, goals and ambitions of a people, and these are powerful conditioning forces for good or ill. They speak, in sense, through the voice of the people as public opinion, she said, and today, for the first time, this “voice of the people” is being determined by the will of God. “The sound of the nations has been heard as a mass sound for the first time”, we’re told, and that sound, that voice, is demanding peace and understanding between all nations and peoples.

At the same time, we look out at the world and see growing chaos and even despair as the old and familiar ways, traditions and values fade away with no clear vision of the future yet emerging. Understandably, the reaction on the part of many people is to want to “circle the wagons” and bemoan the loss of the old and familiar ways which, if not universally shared, were recognizable by all. This deeply conservative impulse to preserve and protect the ideas and ideals achieved during the Piscean age is an inclination which can be stabilizing, but it can also create resistance to change. It would seem, therefore, that the task of those with a vision of the future direction which the incoming age is steadily revealing must be to clarify the possibilities that lie before all nations and to present these goals as a vision which will engage the national imagination. Doing so will help to clarify the adaptations needed to enable the growing global synthesis to work for everyone.

Perhaps a place to begin presenting this vision is to realize that the present world turmoil is actually an indication that the world is approaching a critical point with genuine possibilities for change and growth. From the esoteric view point, this turbulence can be seen as an indication of the emerging soul pattern which lies behind the outer manifestation of the nation—the soul pattern, the spiritual aspiration which conditions the goal and destiny of a people and which seeks to impose itself upon the outer pattern. The collision created by these opposing aspects is increasingly visible in a number of nations throughout the world today, and it is, perhaps unexpectedly, an indication of spiritual progress.

Alice Bailey’s writings remind us that “the reaction to an increasing influence of the soul ray is ever accompanied by a breaking down period; this demonstration of destruction is, however, only temporary and preparatory”, she wrote. In some cases a particular subgroup within the population will serve as a focal point for the conflicting forces and energies, while in other nations a particular individual, such as a leader, will serve to embody the critical point reached in the nation’s evolution. These groups and leaders can serve as either positive forces or negative hindrances—focal points for the soul of the nation or embodiments of national glamours. We can all apply this recognition to the present crises being faced by numerous nations.

The emphasis of the focus by the new group of world servers, as we remember, should be on identifying the soul ray of a nation and evoking it into an increased functioning activity. This is one of the world’s servers’ major tasks, Alice Bailey wrote. We can identify the national soul through calls for international cooperation, for sharing in the woes of humanity by succoring the world’s suffering—these responses express the soul of a nation. The past 75 years since the end of the World War have seen increasing efforts by the world’s nations to come together to solve global problems, led in many cases by the United Nations. While history is replete with wars, hegemony and isolation, there are also luminous examples of the gifts that nations have contributed to world betterment: international volunteer services, ready response to natural disasters, no matter how distant, cross-cultural sharing, the welcoming of refugees fleeing poverty, famine and war, are just a few demonstrations that the soul of the nations is increasingly expressive.

“At the heart of every nation lies latent the mystical soul”, Alice Bailey wrote. It’s this potential that awaits evocation as the powerful energies of the new age increasingly make their impact.



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