Question: When you speak of a nation, you speak of it as if it were one person. But a nation is composed of millions of people with different levels of consciousness. Also, how can you reconcile the idea of a nation's karma with the fact that you have within the nation millions of people with their own karmic pasts?1

Sri Chinmoy: A nation is like a body made up of millions of cells. If one cell achieves something great, it is the achievement of the entire body. If one cell attains a higher consciousness, the consciousness of the entire body is raised. On the other hand, if one cell becomes weak, sick or diseased, then the entire body is weakened. The consciousness of a nation is a collective phenomenon. Each individual can raise or lower the standard of his nation. If one person aspires, the consciousness of his nation is elevated. The achievement of each individual person affects the achievement of the nation as a whole. Likewise, each nation is like a branch of the cosmic tree. The attainment of one particular branch is the attainment of the entire tree.

If we, as a nation, try to transcend our limitations or achievements, consciously or unconsciously we are inspiring other nations. If they live in the vital, they will be jealous of us. But if they live in the heart, they will see that they, too, have the capacity to do as we are doing. If other nations are sincere, they will see and feel that another nation is rising or has risen to a high standard through its personal effort, through its aspiration to improve itself. Then these other nations will ask themselves what is preventing them from also coming up to the same standard. They will see that in many cases it is just lack of enthusiasm and lack of effort.

Some people say that opportunity is not given to some nations. I wish to say that this is not always true. What is opportunity? Opportunity is our conscious acceptance of the divinity within. A nation may say it has fallen or failed because it did not have equal capacity or equal opportunity. But often opportunity has come from Above; capacity does exist within. However, the nation did not seize the opportunity or exercise its capacity. In this world no nation can remain unsatisfied or unfulfilled if it sincerely aspires — that is, if its citizens sincerely aspire.

We have to know what God wants from each nation. God wants my hand to work, my eyes to see, my ears to hear, my nose to breathe. If a nation goes deep within, it will see what God wants it to be. The role and goal of each individual nation have to come directly from within, from God. If God wants me to be an ant, then He will be pleased with me only if I become an ant and not if I become an elephant. And only then shall I feel that I have fulfilled my own existence and fulfilled God's Divinity and Reality.

If I, as a nation, really want to do something for the world, then let me go deep within and do what God wants me to do, instead of competing with other nations that have been given an entirely different task by God. If I, as a nation, want to compete, I should try to compete with my own ignorance, with my own limitations and bondage. I should try to surpass my own achievements instead of the achievements of other nations. If I have weaknesses as a nation, I should try to transform and perfect them. If I am sick, I should try to bring forward my inner capacity to cure myself and not depend on other nations to cure me.

A nation does have a karmic past, and when a person is born into a nation or lives in a nation, he participates or shares in that karmic past. He also helps to build the karmic future of that nation. So if a nation is undeveloped, it is often not because of lack of opportunity but because of lack of aspiration or lack of development in its inhabitants. Whatever good qualities or good fortune a nation has and whatever bad qualities and bad fortune a nation has, it is to some degree because of the consciousness of the people of that nation. Right now each nation is far from perfection. But each nation has the capacity to be absolutely perfect because the message of perfection, the seed of perfection, dwells within each nation. Only it takes time to germinate.

  1. MUN 26. 3 May 1975.