Humanity, Christ, and the Millennium Development Goals

This inspirational address was given by Steve Nation* at the 2006 Annual Seven Ray Institute Conference. For further information along these lines, and additional resources, please visit the Intuition in Service website.


Greetings friends. Living in the Radiant Heart of the Coming One. I want to speak about the vision of the Reappearance of the Christ as presented by Alice Bailey, and to reflect on how this relates to the Millennium Development Goals eight achievable goals ranging from halving extreme poverty, to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education. All 191 member states of the United Nations have pledged themselves to meet these goals by the year 2015; millions of people of goodwill working through not-for profits, charities, religious and voluntary associations alongside businesses and corporations are involved in the same effort; and a popular movement fronted by such key figures as Bono, Bob Geldof and Nelson Mandela is pressuring governments, reminding them to keep their promise and meet the goals ... by 2015.

In conclusion I want to reflect a little on what it means to serve as an esotericist in response to global issues. There are many ways of being engaged in the Millennium Goals movement what is it that characterizes or defines an esoteric engagement?

These are not abstract issues we are discussing: ideas about the Christ and the Coming One; efforts to halve extreme poverty in the world; service as an esotericist. These are issues that reach right into the core of our being, touching those parts of us where our sense of purpose and meaning is shaped, where our sense of integrity lives and where we find ourselves figuratively in the gaze of the Christ and warmed by the sacred fires of the heart. So can we just pause for a moment to recollect something of the inner dimension, the joyful seriousness, and awesome mystery of the subject?

I suggest that you might like to stand if anyone finds this difficult please do remain seated.

  • Please feel your feet standing easily and firmly on the floor. Feel yourself to be grounded. Watch your breathing breathe quietly, rhythmically, steadily.
  • Think about what it is to be a human being in a time of transition. Picture those you love. See their face sense their special qualities, their challenges and difficulties. Hear and feel their breath — the signature of life.
  • Now expand the image to include a group of people of goodwill an anonymous group; an archetypal group. Let the group include rural people, alongside people from towns and cities; people of different generations, a mix of cultures and races. See their faces sense their individuality, their uniqueness, feel their united breath ... people of goodwill. In each of these individuals try to sense something of the drama of the human experience: the struggle and conflict involved as vision of potential rubs up against remembered experience, against the impulse of desires and instincts; and as self encounters society. Consider the complicated mix of the human being with soul and personality, spirit and matter responding to an infinite array of impressions and stimuli. Sense the potency of the human quality of goodwill, and the role it plays in the evolution of the planetary life.
  • Now consider the times in which we are living, transition times. New energies are pouring into this magical being we call the human, and into this anonymous group of our imagination. Insights on wholeness and on the rights and dignity of the individual are conditioning the way we think about the world, shaping our vision of the future, challenging our ancient instincts of separateness and putting them under enormous strain. Today is World Health Day, so it is right that we think how these insights are reflected in the way our societies approach health and healing allopathic and complementary.
  • Through the pain and struggle something fresh is being born; human nature itself is changing as the spirit of inclusiveness takes shape within psyche and society. The Radiant Heart of the Coming One, the Christ, together with that Great Community of Heart on the Inner Side of Life, all the assembled Saints of Wisdom and Compassion of all the traditions, watches over this process and is deeply involved. A magical, mythic event, the reappearance of the Christ has been foretold; we can live in expectation of this event without getting lost in speculation about when or how it might happen. The task of people of goodwill is to prepare the way by working towards a world of unity and right relations.
  • And so for each of us, and for our anonymous group we hear the Call: Prepare the way ... be open to the vision of a new human community ... allow the vision to shape your life as you participate in and serve in its realization.

Thank You. Please be seated.

From the esoteric perspective the challenge of the period since the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations has been for human beings to take responsibility for pulling into embodied, living social, political and economic expressions the new "revelation" of wholeness and of the inherent sacredness of each individual. It has been a testing, brooding, challenging time with apparently unsolvable global problems looming on the horizon. It's easy to blame governments, leaders, corporations and "others" for the lack of drive and vigour in anchoring the vision into significant expression yet a swell of popular common sense and public opinion has been building through the decades and this is what really matters. The problem is not so much to do with "others" but more a question of human "decision" to act on the wholeness and the human rights vision as set out in the principles of the United Nations Charter.

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so will the future of humanity prove to be." Through the passage of time (we are speaking of over 50 years of time) the dream of a world of right relations and of unity in diversity, the dream at the core of the founding of the UN, has been slowly coming out of the clouds of ideology and into life in the depths of the human heart, shaping and firing our sense of purpose and altruism. It's an intimate personal thing, just as much as it's a community, collective thing.

We live in a very different world now from our parents' time. The major difference lies I think in the awakening of the One World vision with the effect this has had on the simple humble net of goodwill that now binds the peoples of the world. There is a global realisation and a body of feeling which is sensitive to the community of pain, sorrow, anxiety, starvation, despair and joy. Humanity now, in a way that is quite new, lives in our heart and a similar sense of affinity is emerging towards the other worlds of nature and of the earth itself. This "Indras Net" of goodwill, and the activity deriving from it, is evidence that humanity is moving into the aura of the radiant heart of the Coming One.

The esoteric tradition speaks a great deal about the significance of planning setting a goal in consciousness or form, and persistence in treading of the path towards that goal. It speaks of the divine plan of love and light not in mechanistic terms, but as an unfolding through the awakening expression of human free will of the Grand Evolutionary Possibility held in the mind of God. As a world group disciples are those who have a sensitivity to this evolutionary possibility and who live and work in such a way as to see that possibility become a factual expression in the physical plane. This is what discipleship is all about. Human planning today, Alice Bailey has written, is one of the first indications of the emergence of the Will aspect. It is in the setting of a time boundary by the nations that humanity is learning to pull the vision down into the gritty "realities" of time and space. [There is a wonderful little section in Discipleship in the New Age, Vol II pp. 359 to 362 that explores the relation between discipleship and planning].

It is now clear that the planning emerging in the world in the 1940's had numerous flaws idealistic, authoritarian, and unrealistic. The Millennium Goals bring the experience of planning at a local, national and international level into the more realistic, hard-nosed, people-based, common-sense climate of the twenty-first century and it is this that makes them of such significance in the reappearance process.

This is a point that was brought home to me by a talk Bruce Jenks, Deputy Administrator of the UNDP, gave at last year's annual conference for civil society organisations at the UN. He spoke about the history of global efforts to eliminate poverty and foster economic and social development. The sixties, seventies and eighties were the decades of the Cold War. Whatever governments said, whatever idealistic language they used, international aid was designed with one overriding purpose: to reward your allies and punish your enemies. In the 1990's the world changed: the focus moved onto clear-cut development objectives like how to ensure basic health and education opportunities are available for all how to empower women. This was the decade, throughout the nineties, of the big world conferences on environment, society, population, women and so on. It was a time of deep reflection and definition of development objectives, and it culminated in the Millennium Summit at UN Headquarters in New York in 2000 when world leaders signed up to the Millennium Development Goals, the high point, in Bruce Jenks words, in really focusing on objectives.

Think about this for a moment in terms of "living in the radiant heart of the Coming One." Preparing for the Reappearance and the sensitivity of the human intellect to the impulse of the Divine Plan. Think not just of governments but of people's movements, too. In planning to eradicate extreme poverty the focus is increasingly on clear defined goals almost a military type of planning that refines objectives and then asks how can we meet those objectives and in what sort of time scale.

So what are these magical Development Goals for a New Millennium? There are eight goals each goal has a brief, succinct statement that is then fleshed out with a series of subsidiary goals that will need to be met if the wider goal is to be achieved. Each of the subsidiary goals is to be reviewed year-by-year, nation-by-nation, and the information made available to all so we can ask how are we doing? What needs to be done to meet this goal by 2015?

  • To eradicate extreme poverty and halve the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day.
  • To provide universal primary education.
  • To empower women and ensure women's equal rights and opportunities, especially in primary and secondary schools.
  • To reduce infant mortality by two-thirds.
  • To reduce maternal mortality by three quarters.
  • To halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
  • To ensure environmental sustainability and reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
  • To develop a global partnership for development, including targets for developed countries to remove barriers to the import of goods from poorer countries and for Official Development Assistance from developed countries to increase to .7% of GNI.

Basically the first seven goals depend on action from the poorer countries requiring a new, higher standard of governance, accountable to the people and taking significant steps to deal with corruption and enforce the rule of law. The eighth goal puts the responsibility on the developed nations to assist poorer countries by improving the quality and quantity of aid, resolving debt problems, and ensuring a fairer international trading system. Success in achieving goals 1 - 7 depends on goal 8.

OK that's the context, the compact that governments agreed to. But, hang on; does this guy know what governments are like? They make these agreements but its all a play on words is there any government in the developing or developed world that is really fired up by these goals and committed? Get real!

And it is in looking at this question that the picture becomes exciting and that I believe we see humanity responding to the radiant heart of the coming one. The Goals change the dynamics of the forces in humanity working for right relations, and they do so in a dramatic way. How?

One: the Goals and the pioneering thinking that has grown out of all the global conferences of the nineties now make it crystal clear that we human beings have the ability to achieve these goals. We are the first generation that can eradicate poverty as Bono and Bob Geldoff remind us.

Jeffrey Sachs and the UN Millennium Project offer hundreds of common sense practical projects being modelled on the ground proving the goals can be achieved. There is an enormous wealth of experience in the global development movement groups like CARE and OXFAM; like the Sri Lankan Gandhian Buddhist movement, Sarvodaya Shramadana ; Overseas Development Assistance programmes run by governments of developed countries and often using non-government organizations like Médécins sans frontières; the vast international organizations like UNHCR, WHO, and UNICEF. It is not just about governments but a wide net of official and unofficial programmes.

Two: Living in the USA it is easy to be deceived about the international political climate. Last year there was a radical awakening of political will to achieve the Millennium Goals, particularly in Africa it was shaped and emerged out of the G8 summit in Scotland and the action taken to reduce debt in the most seriously indebted countries. Listen to this comment made in January by Gordon Brown, British Chancellor of the Exchequer: In 2006 we will be judged not just on willing the millennium development goals but on delivering the resources to achieve them. All involved will have to prove that making poverty history is not just a passing fashion but a commitment for our generation.

Three: This is not just about governments it is about the relations between governments and their people. It is a cop out to blame governments. If sufficient numbers of people feel sufficiently concerned about the promises that their governments have made in the Millennium Declaration they can and will exert a pressure that governments respond to. This is the way change happens. Popular movements (led by organisations that many of us are members of and support) advocate, lobby and pressure governments to act on the Goals, as well as pioneering creative approaches to meeting the goals. It is the will of people like us who make the difference. Last year Koffi Annan pleaded with civil society and grass roots organisations to pressure governments to keep their promises, to monitor progress at the country level and to keep the pressure up. The evidence of what can be achieved is in the Make Poverty History Campaign in the US, One: The Campaign to Make Poverty History. Bob Geldoff, Bono and Nelson Mandela fronted the popular campaigns involving an unprecedented mobilization of people from every part of the world and a vast network of goodwill movements. The campaign symbol is a White Band. The Live 8 Concerts were, in Geldoff's words, like a steroid injection for the movement to achieve the Goals.

Now ... evolution does not work to some linear, clockwork Plan. The fact that global thinking has clarified to the point where these Goals have become part of the global agenda; and the fact that there is clearly a new level of will to meet the goals this does not mean that all is plain sailing. Far from it ... The Plan of Love and Light and Power unfolds through all the complicated agendas of human beings; power plays; instincts of sovereignty and self-interest two steps forward if your lucky, one step back and a couple of dances to the side. It involves intense, muscular negotiation. Outstanding breakthroughs, such as last year's agreements on debt cancellation, are paralleled by the disappointments of the lack of fairness in trade. So this is not a short-term process.

Right now all the data suggests that the Goals will not be met by the year 2015 although with sufficient urgency they could still be met. So what does that mean? It means that civil society, the goodwill network fired a little by the visionary steroid injection of the 2005 events, has to not only keep the pressure up, but also increase it. The beauty of the new environment created by the Goals is that there is now a wealth of clear data in which anyone with access to the web can look at any country in the world and see exactly how they are doing in meeting their promises on the goals.

It is this situation; this pragmatic, clear opportunity to work for right relations that I believe is what it makes 2006, 7 and 8 and onwards to 2015 such a significant time: it is this fire of human will, and organized, focused love that is what I think "Living in the Radiant Heart of the Coming One" means.

And finally: what does it mean to be engaged in the Millennium Goals Movement as an esotericist? What defines an esoteric engagement? This really is not a subject to be addressed quickly, at the end of a talk. It's too easy to come up with glib answers most things that are real are a little messy, more about a process of becoming becoming a little more free of glamour; realizing our inadequacies as esotericists yet persisting in the practices that we know to be effective.

But even so I can speak briefly of what an esoteric engagement in the Goals means to me. It is to do with radiation and with working from inside out. Esoteric service is based on the role that focused group activities of mind and heart can play in shattering the glamours imprisoning human consciousness and affecting the mental environment, making it more responsive to the mind that is in Christ.

There are three aspects I want to mention briefly. First, there are the meditation practices. These involve:

  • conscious identification with the group of all who love and serve;
  • participation as part of that group in the invocation of the powers of divinity that lie within powers held in the ashram, in the realm of soul where the Christ and the Great Ones are to be found;
  • and faith leading to knowing, beyond doubt, that the energies evoked have the power to inspire and nourish the awakening of the values and ethics of wholeness.

We can have the Millennium Development Goals in mind when working with the Triangles service meditation outlined by DK, or when using the Great Invocation. Whenever we are at a gathering dedicated to world betterment or a Culture of Peace we can silently use the affirmation: May the energies radiated from this gathering strengthen the resolve of people's and governments to keep the promise of the Millennium Goals. I believe this form of esoteric service to be powerful and useful.

A second aspect of an esoteric engagement in the Millennium Goals Movement concerns the second of the three principles of esoteric work: meditation, study, service. Study is a core esoteric approach to engagement. This involves what might traditionally be called a cosmological or theological study: thinking through how esoteric teachings deepen our insight into the movement and what it represents in terms of the Plan of Love and Light. Esoteric study can deepen our understanding of the significance of the Millennium Movement and make our engagement that much more useful to the ashram. It adds to the radiatory quality. Study also involves keeping informed about the movement, the Goals, the challenges, the key thinkers and so on. Nowadays with so much material available from an excellent range of web sites this is not too difficult, and need not involve getting inundated with information.

The third aspect of what it means to be engaged as an esotericist in this movement is to physically be a part of the campaign. There are so many ways of physical engagement from signing declarations and petitions, to telling our friends about aspects of the campaign that excite us, to sending funds. Without the follow through into concrete practical actions, no matter how apparently insignificant, the magic of esoteric engagement is lost it becomes dualistic, mystical and disembodied. There has to be some practical, concrete action for the magic, and the radiation to be real.

So here you go: get out your pens and paper. Three web sites that will lead you anywhere you want to go with the campaign and the movement: The One Campaign to Make Poverty History go online and sign the declaration

White Bands are available from any of these web sites.

If anyone would like to receive a little monthly list I send out focusing on important dates relating to the Campaign (mainly UN International Days and Global Conferences) to bring into your meditations please write to me at: with the subject line: "Monthly List Add" ... and the current list is available online here.


Intuition in Service website
Sharing a vision of the higher potential of humanity


* This address is re-published from the World Service Group Newsletter Vol II, No. 26 (April, 2006).


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