Sri Aurobindo Association in the USA


The evolution of national souls

A call for action

Soul of a nationThe evolutionary potential of the soul of the USA—and of nations in general—is a core topic of AUM 2013. We want to explore in a practical way how the development of our nation is connected with our personal yoga and inner transformation.

The Integral Yoga community has not generally focused on the realization of nation souls in Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's work and vision. After more than 40 years, there are only a few pavilions in the International Zone in Auroville and a notable lack of new literature on this theme.

The general public is even less prepared in this regard. This is not surprising, since Sri Aurobindo is one of few spiritual teachers who refers to the psychic and spiritual dimensions of the nation.

In intellectual media and literature, the soul of a nation is considered to be a summary of its basic characteristics—its flavor, music, weaknesses and habits. It is mentioned rarely in spiritual teachings (mostly Theosophic), where it may refer to a nation's guiding angels and devas.

Both views miss the critical evolutionary point of Integral Yoga: We are in the midst of a great transition, and not only for our individual psychic beings—today the essences of nations and countries are also urgently called to move, evolve, and find their own integration.

Each of us is a member of a nation and can play a initiatory and crucial role in this process. The collective evolution becomes part of our individual yoga.

AUM 2013 is not aiming for another "coffeehouse conversation" or mere intellectual reflection on the soul of America.

AUM 2013 is a call for action. There is an urgent need for healing and yogic experience in this previously neglected but highly rewarding area.

We invite you to read the following compilation on the developing souls of nations from Sri Aurobindo' s and Mother's writings.

Mother and Sri AurobindoThe vision of Sri Aurobindo and Mother

AUM 2013 aims to give an experience of the soul of America as an evolving being. This is an application of Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's vision on national souls and their dynamics.

The soul of the individual

Sri Aurobindo and Mother say that the soul of an individual consists of an unchanging central being and an evolving, individualizing psychic being.1

Nation souls

Nations have [group] souls and a psychic being like an individual:

The nation or society, like the individual, has a body, an organic life, a moral and aesthetic temperament, a developing mind and a soul behind all these signs and powers for the sake of which they exist. One may say even that, like the individual, it essentially is a soul rather than has one; it is a group soul that, once having attained to a separate distinctness, must become more and more self-conscious and find itself more and more fully as it develops its corporate action and mentality and its organic self-expressive life. . . . The parallel is just at every turn because it is more than a parallel; it is a real identity of nature.2

Just as each individual has a psychic being which is his true self and governs his destiny more or less overtly, so too each nation has a psychic being which is its true being and molds its destiny from behind the veil: it is the soul of the country, the national genius, the spirit of the people, the center of national aspiration, the fountainhead of all that is beautiful, noble, great, and generous in the life of the country.3

Evolution of the soul

Individual evolution

Individuals are shaped by a "double evolution":4

General evolution

The group-soul of a nation follows the general evolution and does not evolve through reincarnation and karma.

The Sri Aurobindo Studies blog notes:

When we review the concept of evolution, we generally treat it as a single process, focused on the development of ever more complex forms. Sri Aurobindo points out that there is, rather, a double evolutionary process: the first being the evolution of the forms (mind, life, and body) and the second, the inner spiritual evolution of consciousness. These two proceed with a different emphasis and speed depending on the stage of the universal development that is being viewed. Nature focuses first on the evolution of forms, in order to prepare the vessels capable of holding increasing powers of consciousness.5

Sri Aurobindo describes this double process:

. . . Nature’s major preoccupation must necessarily be still and for a long time the evolution of mind to its greatest possible range, height, subtlety; for only so can be prepared the unveiling of an entirely intuitive intelligence, of Overmind, of Supermind, the difficult passage to a higher instrumentation of the Spirit.6

When [the national group soul] does succeed in getting out of the stage of vaguely conscious self-formation, its first definite self-consciousness is objective much more than subjective. And so far as it is subjective, it is apt to be superficial or loose and vague.

This objectiveness comes out very strongly in the ordinary emotional conception of the nation which centres round its geographical, its most outward and material aspect, the passion for the land in which we dwell, the land of our fathers, the land of our birth, country, patria, vaterland, janmabhiuni.

When we realize that the land is only the shell of the body, though a very living shell indeed and potent in its influences on the nation, when we begin to feel that its more real body is the men and women who compose the nation-unit, a body ever changing, yet always the same like that of the individual man, we are on the way to a truly subjective communal consciousness. For then we have some chance of realizing that even the physical being of the society is a subjective power, not a mere objective existence.7

Human unity and transformation

The evolution, integration, and realization of national souls creates a supportive tool and platform both for a true human unity and the essential evolution and transformation of the individual. However, the individual is the initiator for the growth of the national soul.

[A spiritual society] would regard the peoples as group-souls, the Divinity concealed and to be self-discovered in its human collectivities, group-souls meant like the individual to grow according to their own nature and by that growth to help each other, to help the whole race in the one common work of humanity. And that work would be to find the divine Self in the individual and the collectivity and to realise spiritually, mentally, vitally, materially its greatest, largest, richest and deepest possibilities in the inner life of all and their outer action and nature.8

It must be an education that for the individual will make its one central object the growth of the soul and its powers and possibilities, for the nation will keep first in view the preservation, strengthening and enrichment of the nation-soul and its Dharma and raise both into powers of the life and ascending mind and soul of humanity. And at no time will it lose sight of man's highest object, the awakening and development of his spiritual being.9

But the progress of the mind, the growth of the soul, even of the mind and soul of the collectivity, depends on the individual.10

Soul waves


  1. For more on this topic, see The Psychic Being: Selections from the Works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1989)
  2. Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle, "The Discovery of the Nation Soul" (online Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram), p. 35
  3. The Mother, cited on the Auroville International Zone website
  4. Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, "The Evolution of the Spiritual Man" (online Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram), p. 890
  5. Sri Aurobindo Studies blog
  6. Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, "The Evolution of the Spiritual Man" (online Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram), p. 890
  7. Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle, "The Discovery of the Nation Soul" (online Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram), p. 36
  8. Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle, "Conditions for the Coming of a Spiritual Age" (online Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram), p. 257
  9. Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, "The Integral Knowledge and the Aim of Life; Four Theories of Existence" (online Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram), p. 698
  10. Sri Aurobindo, The Hour of God, "Education and Art" (online Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, vol. 17, Sri Aurobindo Ashram), p. 200