The United Nations: Manifesting the Vision of the One humanity
What does the title mean? Well, I hope we will get some sense of this by taking a brief look at the way the UN emerged, and how it performs some of its most important work, namely the preparation and implementation of Declarations and Conventions.
To start, let’s take a look at an image of the United Nations’ General Assembly chamber.
Behind the dais, the golden background is suggestive of a stream of energy from on high. It certainly seems appropriate imagery for a spiritual sanctum, and the Bailey books point to the thought that the General Assembly could be considered a sanctum of the Avatar of Synthesis, Who is particularly associated with the United Nations.
Now here’s a quote from the books which connects the conference theme of Initiation with the vision which the United Nations is seeking to present and to manifest.
“The race as a whole stands now at the very entrance to the Path of Discipleship. The racial gaze is forward to the vision, whether it is the vision of the soul, a vision of a better way of life, of an improved economic situation, or of better inter-racial relationship. That this vision is oft distorted, that it is materially oriented or only partially seen is sadly true; but in some form or another there exists today an appreciable grasp of the 'new and desirable' by the masses—a thing hitherto unknown. In the past, it was the intelligentsia or the elect who were privileged to have the vision. Today, it is the mass of men...” (The Rays and the Initiations p.498-99, emph. added)
We know that the UN is itself an expression of this vision, as well as one of humanity's main instruments for seeking to further express it. The creation of the UN was a highly dramatic and significant moment in human consciousness. It was initiated in 1942 by Roosevelt and Churchill, and the conference which finally created the UN Charter took place in San Francisco over the period beginning just before Wesak 1945, with the UN Charter being adopted on the day of the Full Moon of Cancer, 25 June 1945. It is interesting to contemplate that this conference happened in a city named after a prior incarnation of Master Kuthumi. Also, the UN is mainly based in two of the planetary centres, New York and Geneva; and in fact, the first meeting of the General Assembly took place in London. Interestingly, this year there are two public debates which are being held to help in the selection process of the next UN Secretary General, in New York and London, and the first one is happening in New York today.
Like all human institutions, the creation of the UN was an occasion for intense struggle on the mental and emotional planes – the book Act of Creation chronicles some of the conflicts which took place both before and during San Francisco. For some sense of what might have been happening on the inner planes, there is the following anecdote. On hearing the radio commentary from this conference, Mary Crump, a student of the Ageless Wisdom teachings, became inwardly aware of a great Light hovering over San Francisco, inclining its Light downward towards the event. She perceived this light to be a great Seraph Who was singing a song to the worn-out nations of the world. He was appealing for them to reach up to Him as He reached out to them with the qualities of Love, Goodwill, Peace, Victory and Illumination that He was garnering from the planets and constellations on humanity's behalf. The poem is called The Song of the Seraph of San Francisco and was included in The Beacon a few years back. It ends with the words:
So on and on and on through the stars and the planets
naming the names of them
in the one Name
Great NAME of the Lord of the Universe
I reach out and pluck of their light and their virtues
I pluck for healing of the nations of Earth.
So when we turn our attention to other important international conferences, many of which are convened by the UN, we can envision similar significant cooperation from the deva hierarchies, a theme which Tom Ravetz explored at the WG Seminar in London last year. This is another way of saying that conferences of all kinds are moments of opportunity for the Plan to work its way out further into manifestation. So it is not surprising that very human dramas play out, as the personality mechanisms struggle to cope with the intense spiritual energies seeking expression. One simple way this becomes evident is the way in which conferences often run over their allotted time, as every word of every clause is minutely examined and argued over. Sometimes, civil society organisations will express their disappointment in this process, as the key spiritual principles involved may become masked or diluted. But recognising what is happening on the inner planes, and the fact that negotiators also face many constraints placed on them by the particular circumstances of their own governments, can help us to appreciate the great difficulty of producing a form of words that can be used by the many parties involved.
It can be easy when reading a typical UN document to become a little bored with the seemingly endless numbered paragraphs and sub-paragraphs, and to miss the beating heart of spiritual principles which really power it; so thinking about the products of conferences in this way, as the outcome of an intense spiritual drama, can help us to get a truer sense of their ultimate value. Admittedly, the UN is getting a bit better at presenting its work more compellingly – the recently formulated Sustainable Development Goals are a case in point. So in the final part of this presentation, let’s zero in on two key texts which are central to the work of the UN, and which are more obvious in their expression of spiritual principles: the Preamble of the UN Charter; and the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Here is the Preamble:
“We the peoples of the United Nations determined
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
And for these ends
to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims…”
The first part of the Preamble presents four Intentions of enormous scope - saving the future from war… reaffirming faith in human rights… establishing respect for international law… promoting social progress… any one of these tasks is world-changing in its scope, and the UN seeks to accomplish all four! And all this on a budget that is a mere fraction of the annual GDP of even quite small nations. In fact, in 2013 the UN’s budget was about $2.75 billion. For comparison, the General Fund budget for the state of Arizona in 2015 was around $9.1 billion. The fact that these are Intentions is also significant from the spiritual perspective, since we know that the correct setting of intention is an essential part of the process of constructing the antahkarana.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights actually derives from the second point of the first part, because it was felt by the world community that the rights mentioned there were not sufficiently well-defined. So the Commission on Human Rights was tasked with drawing up the Declaration, a process which took almost two years and involved representatives from seventeen countries.
Let's focus for a moment on what it is that Declarations do in and to consciousness. They orient and align consciousness in a particular direction. They provide a guiding pattern, an overarching context, which inspires and informs all discussions and negotiations. They are conduits for certain specific energies, and expressions of planetary purpose. They are Ideal expressions of the civilisation that humanity knows it is capable of. They form an organic part of the vision of the Plan, which it is the responsibility of the group of world servers to hold before the eyes of all people everywhere. They are integral components of the planetary antahkarana.
So we could say that the creation of a declaration is analogous to the application of the rod of power during initiation, permitting the stabilisation of Ideals within Humanity's aura. This may be a brief instant of stimulation from the point of view of Sanat Kumara: yet the working out of that moment may require hundreds of years of human civilisation, as the Declaration filters down into every organ of society.
Turning to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let’s examine what may be one of the most spiritual statements in any text, including the many bibles of the world, the First Article.
We begin with “ALL Human Beings...”, which brings in the significant principle of Universality, which is closely related to Synthesis. Both energies are distinctive of the Aquarian age. One way of capturing the key insights of universality and equality that lie at the heart of the first article is summed up in a concept that Alice Bailey says should be taught to every child: namely, the value of the individual and the fact of the One Humanity. The value of the individual is central to the rights enshrined in the UDHR. However, the fact that it grants equal rights to every person contains within it an essential corollary: that every person is responsible for upholding the rights of others – and indeed, ultimately, all others. The same idea is contained in the fact of the One Humanity. The fact of the One Humanity makes it explicit that responsibility cannot stop at any point short of the whole world. It implies that there will eventually have to be global systems of distributing the wealth of the Earth fairly that every human being has some say in; and while these systems may take decades or even centuries to fully implement, all who are currently conscious of this need must play their part in laying the groundwork now. This groundwork does not mean simply proclaiming this vision and demanding that all immediately conform to it. Instead, the difficult task before people of goodwill is to identify those trends and movements in human consciousness and affairs that are clearly working to create some of the practical foundations of such a future society. Identifying groups involved with this process is no easy matter, but one crucial test will be whether they are sounding the note of goodwill in their activities, for it is only through working with the principle of goodwill that right human relations can be accomplished.
“are born” implicitly brings in the concept of incarnation. “Free”; Freedom is a necessary precondition for the flourishing of all the other spiritual values and capacities mentioned throughout the Declaration. It is easy to presume we understand the implications of freedom. But do we really? The personality may understand freedom as freedom from arbitrary constraint by other personalities. But there is much more to the mystery of freedom than this. It may well be the most profound spiritual principle cited anywhere in the Declaration. So we read:
“The principle of freedom is a leavening energy which can permeate substance in a unique manner;... This principle of freedom is one of the attributes of Deity (like will, love and mind) of which humanity knows as yet little. The freedom for which men fight is one of the lowest aspects of this cosmic freedom, which is related to certain great evolutionary developments that enable the life or spirit aspect to free itself from the impact, the contact and the influence of substance.” (The Rays and the Initiations p.416)
Equality has already been mentioned, which leads us to Dignity – this is what might be regarded as an ‘old-fashioned’ concept; certainly, when understood in the wrong way, it has shades of the artificial hierarchies of rank and privilege which were such a feature of the Piscean Age, and which are now disintegrating under the impact of Aquarius. But at its root, dignity is related to decency and worth, and to a proto-indo-european root which means to accept or receive. So dignity, properly understood, means to receive the honour appropriate to one’s place or position within the Plan; and to act, to use another significant word, accordingly – in other words, from the heart of that position. As we know, humanity’s consciousness of the Plan is as yet very imperfect and partial, which helps to explain why the systems of financial and social rewards that we currently have are so strangely distorted, and why the very concept of dignity seems so alien. But the Declaration reminds us that, at the moment of incarnation, we are all of us equal – our potential, our soul purpose, is yet to be realised, and our worth consists in our membership of the human kingdom, which Buddhist teachings remind us is an extraordinarily precious opportunity. It is up to us whether we accept that opportunity or squander it – whether we fall for the phantom dignity of wealth and fame, or rise to the true dignity of selfless service.
And finally in the first sentence, we come to rights. What is a right? At first glance, it seems to be a form of claim that an individual can make on the society of which he is a part. This claim is generally seen as directed to the government. But if we take seriously the notion, made explicit in the American Declaration of Independence, that governments can be created or destroyed by the governed, and govern by the consent of the governed, we could say that the claimant of a right is ultimately claiming it from his fellow citizens. A government, in this view, is acting simply as the mechanism through which this claim is transmitted, and by which it is ultimately implemented. This implementation is carried out through the legal system, which means that rights have to be given specific form within the laws of a nation. So, prior to their formalisation within legal systems, and their implementation by governments, rights are essentially what we are asking of our fellow citizens to do unto us, just as we would do unto them in return – in other words, a universalising of the Golden Rule.
The second sentence: “endowed with reason...”. It’s interesting that the choice was “reason” and not “intelligence”. Esotericists are familiar with the idea that buddhi is ‘pure reason’, and reason, the ability to connect cause and effect, to link events in a way that grants meaning and understanding, seems naturally to be connected with the second aspect of consciousness. This is reinforced by the other endowment, “conscience”, the still, small voice of the Soul. So this passage implicitly acknowledges the Soul behind the incarnating personality. Further confirmation of this emerges in the final point of emphasis, “a spirit of brotherhood”, which is very easily translated into its esoteric equivalent, right human relations, the ultimate result of the consistent and persistent application of goodwill. The second aspect is the aspect above all of relationship. The other twenty-nine articles of the UDHR essentially expand upon the principles in the first article in more specific contexts – religion, family life, employment, etc..
There is also a further stage of precipitation, where Declarations become Covenants or Conventions, which can be formally incorporated into the laws of a nation, for it is only then that governments can apply rights in practice. The rights in the Declaration are divided into two legal instruments or Covenants. Originally, only one Covenant had been intended, which would have included only civil and political rights. But when economic, social and cultural rights were added, then some nations claimed that, because their realisation depended on the availability of resources, these should be regarded as aspirations, not rights. Because of this difference of opinion, it was decided to split the Covenant into two, one on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the other on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Thus, from one Declaration, we have proceeded to two Covenants, which are then implemented, sometimes with specific reservations, in the legal systems of most governments. From simplicity to complexity, from high principle to imperfect implementation – this, it seems, is ever the way with human institutions. But there is much that people of goodwill can do to support the continuing perfection of the implementation of Human Rights, and the UN’s work in many different fields, as it seeks to manifest the vision of the one Humanity.