When we observe various countries around the world, including nations with a long history and those that are relatively newly minted, we can in certain cases begin to see that there are characteristics that make that nation unique, that express some deeper quality that permeates the atmosphere and life of that country, and that can be understood, not from outward forms of progress, but from some inner connection that binds the people of that country together in what may be called a spiritual unity of purpose. Over time, people the world over begin to recognise the special qualities of certain nations that have stronger coherence and expression of these deeper forces and tendencies. Even when suppressed by external powers, these countries tend to rebound and overcome the oppression and re-assert their natural qualities. We may see this in the spiritual awakening of modern India and its overthrow of the British yoke in the last century, or in the awakening of China, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the Scandanavian countries to follow their own unique path to inner and outer development. In many cases they have chosen to avoid the pressure of the dominant economic powers or at least to modify those forces to also take into account inherent values they hold dear in their culture and in their being.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “But now we have, very remarkably, very swiftly coming to the surface this new psychological tendency of the communal consciousness. Now first we hear of the soul of a nation and, what is more to the purpose, actually see nations feeling for their souls, trying to find them, seriously endeavouring to act from the new sense and make it consciously operative in the common life and action. It is only natural that this tendency should have been, for the most part, most powerful in new nations or in those struggling to realise themselves in spite of political subjection or defeat. For these need more to feel the difference between themselves and others so that they may assert and justi8fy their individuality as against the powerful superlife which tends to absorb or efface it. And precisely because their objective life is feeble and it is difficult to affirm it by its own strength in the adverse circumstances, there is more chance of their seeking for their individuality and its force of self-assertion in that which is subjective and psychological or at least in that which has a subjective or a psychological significance.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 4, The Discovery of the Nation-Soul, pg. 38