Involution (philosophy)

Involution (philosophy)

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The term involution refers to different things depending on the writer. In some instances it refers to a process that occurs prior to evolution and gives rise to the cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

, in others an aspect of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, and still others a process that follows the completion of evolution in the human form.

Involution according to Esoteric cosmology


In Theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

, Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

 and Rosicrucianism, involution and evolution are part of a complex sequence of cosmic cycles
Esoteric cosmology
Esoteric cosmology is cosmology that is an intrinsic part of an esoteric or occult system of thought. It almost always deals with at least some of the following themes: emanation, involution, spiritual evolution, epigenesis, planes of existence or higher worlds , hierarchies of spiritual beings,...

, called Round
Round (Theosophy)
A round in the esoteric cosmology of Theosophy, Anthroposophy and Rosicrucianism is a cosmic cycle or sequence by which an evolving reincarnating being passes through the various stages of existence as the Earth, the Solar System or the Cosmos comes into and passes out of manifestation.-The...

. When the universe attains a stage of sufficient density, the individual spirit is able to descend and participate in the evolution. Involution thus refers to the incarnation of spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

 in an already established matter
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

, the necessary prerequiste of evolution:
As an example, the so-called descent of the Monad into matter means an involution or involving or infolding of spiritual potencies into material vehicles which coincidentally and contemporaneously, through the compelling urge of the infolding energies, unfold their own latent capacities, unwrap them, roll them forth; and this is the evolution of matter.Gottfried de Purucker
Gottfried de Purucker
Gottfried de Purucker was an author and Theosophist who joined the Theosophical Society on August 16, 1893...



That period of time devoted to the attainment of self
Self (philosophy)
The philosophy of self defines the essential qualities that make one person distinct from all others. There have been numerous approaches to defining these qualities. The self is the idea of a unified being which is the source of consciousness. Moreover, this self is the agent responsible for the...

-consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

 and the building of the vehicles
Subtle body
A subtle body is one of a series of psycho-spiritual constituents of living beings, according to various esoteric, occult, and mystical teachings...

 through which the spirit in man manifests, is called involution. Its purpose is to slowly carry life lower and deeper into denser and denser matter for the building of forms, till the nadir of materiality is reached. From that point, life begins to ascend into higher Worlds. This succeeding period of existence, during which the individual human being develops self-consciousness
Self-consciousness
Self-consciousness is an acute sense of self-awareness. It is a preoccupation with oneself, as opposed to the philosophical state of self-awareness, which is the awareness that one exists as an individual being; although some writers use both terms interchangeably or synonymously...

into divine
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

 omniscience
Omniscience
Omniscience omniscient point-of-view in writing) is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In Latin, omnis means "all" and sciens means "knowing"...

, is called "spiritual evolution
Spiritual evolution
Spiritual evolution is the philosophical, theological, esoteric or spiritual idea that nature and human beings and/or human culture evolve, extending from the established cosmological pattern or ascent, or in accordance with certain pre-established potentials...

."

In the cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 of Surat Shabda Yoga
Surat Shabd Yoga
Surat Shabd Yoga or Surat Shabda Yoga is a form of spiritual practice that is followed in the Sant Mat and many other related spiritual traditions...

, involution and evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 apply to both the macrocosm, the whole of creation, and the microcosm
Macrocosm and microcosm
Macrocosm and microcosm is an ancient Greek Neo-Platonic schema of seeing the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale all the way down to the smallest scale...

, the constitution of an individual soul.

The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception or Mystic Christianity is a Rosicrucian text, written by Max Heindel - Western Wisdom Teachings :The first edition was printed in November 1909...

, a Rosicrucian text written by Max Heindel
Max Heindel
Max Heindel - born Carl Louis von Grasshoff in Aarhus, Denmark on July 23, 1865 - was a Christian occultist, astrologer, and mystic. He died on January 6, 1919 at Oceanside, California, United States.- Early infancy :...

, advances the concept of epigenesis
Spiritual evolution
Spiritual evolution is the philosophical, theological, esoteric or spiritual idea that nature and human beings and/or human culture evolve, extending from the established cosmological pattern or ascent, or in accordance with certain pre-established potentials...

 as the key related to the evolution (after an involutionary period) of human beings.

Introduction



For Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo , born Aurobindo Ghosh or Ghose , was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress...

, involution is the process by which the Omnipresent Reality, i.e. the Absolute
Absolute (philosophy)
The Absolute is the concept of an unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence. It is sometimes used as an alternate term for "God" or "the Divine", especially, but by no means exclusively, by those who feel that the term "God" lends itself too easily to...

, Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 extends Itself to create a universe of separate forms from out of Its own Force/Energy.

Sat, Chit
Cit (consciousness)
Chit is a Sanskrit word meaning consciousness. It is a core principle in all ancient spiritual traditions originating from the Indian subcontinent. In Upanishads it is referred to as the Drishta or the Seer, the Sense that makes sense of all other sense experiences...

-Tapas
Tapas (Sanskrit)
Tapasya in Sanskrit means "heat". In Vedic religion and Hinduism, it is used figuratively, denoting spiritual suffering, mortification or austerity, and also the spiritual ecstasy of a yogin or tāpasá . In the Rigveda, the word is connected with the Soma cult...

, and Delight
Delight
Delight means happiness and may refer to someone or something that brings such a state.It may also refer to :-Foods and beverages:*Angel Delight, a British pudding*Bakers Delight, a chain of bakeries in Australia and New Zealand...

/Ananda
Ananda
Ānanda was one of the principal disciples and a devout attendant of the Buddha. Amongst the Buddha's many disciples, Ānanda had the most retentive memory and most of the suttas in the Sutta Pitaka are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist Council...

are the three aspects of Satchitananda
Satchitananda
Saccidānanda, Satchidananda, or Sat-cit-ānanda is a compound of three Sanskrit words, Sat , Cit , and Ānanda , meaning Existence , Consciousness, and Bliss respectively...

, and are mentioned in terms of Involution . Spirit or consciousness manifests as these three, and then as the intermediate link of Supermind, which is transitional between the higher and lower (matter, life, and mind) nature.

The reason for involution is Delight - the Delight of Being (the Spirit or Absolute) moving to Delight of Becoming (temporal existence, the cosmos). Being throws itself forward into a multiplicity of forms, becoming lost in the inconscience of matter, and then through evolution it partakes in the Delight of rediscovering the Spirit which had been hidden in the interim.

Evolution is thus the movement forward by which the created universe evolves from its initial state of inconscience (i.e. as matter), evolves animated life forms and mental beings (i.e. humans), and continues to evolve spiritual properties, and in that process rediscovers its Source. Such an Evolution of animated forms is only possible because at each stage of development, the developing entity contains within itself the conception of what it may become. Thus, the evolution of animated life out of matter supposes a previous involution of that animated capacity. This is akin to a seed that already has the essence of the tree that will emerge from it.

Each plane emerges from an earlier plane through the evolutionary process, which takes place in chronological time. But in a parallel construction, each of these new planes can be understood as being a descendent of its corresponding higher order plane from the Infinite. Thus, when mentality emerged in the universe, the universal plane of Mind was implanted to a degree in those beings harboring that mentality.

The evolution is the development of all entities in the cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

, including humans, in order to attain their fulfillment, including the discovery of spiritual Delight, which was, and always is, the experience of the Source Creator. The evolution is the progressive development from the original inconscience of matter into life (movement, sensation, desire, etc. and living physical beings), and from thence to mind (in conscious animals and most especially humans - the self-conscious thinking animal), and from thence to spiritualized mind, culminating in the The Supermind  or Truth Consciousness (as supramental individuals, and finally the supramental, i.e. a divine life on earth.)

Sat


We cannot speak of Sat without Chit Ananda or Being, Consciousness and Bliss. They represent a totality. Sat is the vital state of that which is was and always will be. In a sense it is a beginnining but because it is pregnant with possibility it is inexorably tied to Ananda or the recognition of Being and then the subsequent realization of bliss which is divine inner knowing. Each flows out of the other and then back again. It could be said that Sat only exists through Ananda or Consciousness however, these levels of differentiation cannot grasp the true nature of either of these three qualities since they are interdependent.

Chit-tapas


Chit-Tapas or Consciousness-Force, in Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo , born Aurobindo Ghosh or Ghose , was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress...

's philosophy refers to the pure energy of Consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

 by which creation ultimately comes about; the infinite divine self-awareness which is also the infinite all-effective Will. It is also one of the seven planes of existence, according to the Vedic
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 and the seven loka
Loka
Loka is a Sanskrit word for "world". In Hindu mythology it takes a specific meaning related to cosmology.-Hindu tradition:In the Puranas, and already in the Atharvaveda, there are fourteen worlds, seven higher ones and seven lower ones , viz...

s of Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 thought.

In chapter 10 of The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo writes at length on the nature of Consciousness-Force as a principle of the Divine. As he understands it (following the Tantric
Tantra
Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

 dichotomy of Shiva and Shakti), Chit or Consciousness is not an inert and passive principle; but contains the potential spiritual Energy, Tapas
Tapas
Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold or warm ....

, which in Creation becomes the dynamic and creative principle or Force, called Shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

. Chit-Tapas or Chit-Shakti is therefore the universal Consciousness-Force, the divine Energy; the Mother
Divine Mother
Divine Mother or Mother Divine may refer to*Adi parashakti, a goddess of Hindu Mythology*Blessed Virgin Mary, of Roman Catholicism religion*Father Divine, an American religious leader active in the 1930s, and either of his wives:** Edna Rose Ritchings...

.

Delight


Delight is Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo , born Aurobindo Ghosh or Ghose , was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress...

's term for ananda
Ananda
Ānanda was one of the principal disciples and a devout attendant of the Buddha. Amongst the Buddha's many disciples, Ānanda had the most retentive memory and most of the suttas in the Sutta Pitaka are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist Council...

, and plays a large part in his cosmology
Esoteric cosmology
Esoteric cosmology is cosmology that is an intrinsic part of an esoteric or occult system of thought. It almost always deals with at least some of the following themes: emanation, involution, spiritual evolution, epigenesis, planes of existence or higher worlds , hierarchies of spiritual beings,...

 and spiritual
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 teaching. Delight is the reason for creation, by which The Absolute extends its Delight of Being into multiplicity, losing itself in the inconscience and then through Delight rediscovering Itself through individuals realising their Divine nature and proceeding to spiritual realisation.

In other words, the universe was created so that the Delight of the Infinite Spirit can manifest in all the forms of creation. When we discover our higher nature, the soul and spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

, we experience the delight for which we were came into being and of which we are a part.

In chapters 11 and 12 of The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo writes at length on the nature of Delight as a principle of the Divine, and its role in creation.

Meher Baba


Meher Baba
Meher Baba
Meher Baba , , born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an Indian mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar of the age....

 uses "involution" in the opposite meaning; rather than the descent of Spirit into matter, he refers to it as meaning the inner path
Inner path
Inner path, in its generic meaning, is any sort of path that is "turned inward" or is contrasted with an "outer path".- Spiritual or religious :Inner path, as a spiritual or religious concept, is referred to in:* Spiritual paths...

 of the human soul to the transcendent Self.

Other Indian interpretations


For Baba Hari Dass
Baba Hari Dass
Baba Hari Dass was born in 1923 near Almora, India. He is a silent monk and guru who was classically trained in the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga. He has maintained a continual vow of silence since 1952...

, Evolution is the Cause of Involution, and vice versa. (Baba Hari Dass is a Maunisadhu monk who practices continual silence.)

Integral thought


In integral thought
Integral thought
Integral is a term applied to a wide-ranging set of developments in philosophy, psychology, spirituality, and many other areas regarding a comprehensive synthesizing transdisciplinary framework or multidimensional perspective to a given field...

, involution is the process by which the Divine manifests the cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

. The process by which the creation rises to higher states and states of consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

 is the evolution
Spiritual evolution
Spiritual evolution is the philosophical, theological, esoteric or spiritual idea that nature and human beings and/or human culture evolve, extending from the established cosmological pattern or ascent, or in accordance with certain pre-established potentials...

. Involution prepares the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

 for the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

; evolution continues from that point forward. The term involution comes from the idea that the divine involves itself in creation. After the creation, the Divine (i.e. the Absolute, Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

) is both the One (the Creator) and the Many
Many
Many may refer to:* plural*A quantifier that can be used with count nouns - often preceded by "as" or "too" or "so" or "that"; amounting to a large but indefinite number; "many temptations"; "a good many"; "many directions"; more than a few, more than severalPlace names* Many, Moselle, a commune of...

 (that which was created).

The integral philosopher Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber
Kenneth Earl Wilber II is an American author who has written about mysticism, philosophy, ecology, and developmental psychology. His work formulates what he calls Integral Theory. In 1998, he founded the Integral Institute, for teaching and applications of Integral theory.-Biography:Ken Wilber was...

 refers to involution in his online chapter of Kosmic Karma, employing concepts from Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

, Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

, Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, and Sri Aurobindo. According to Wilber, the cosmic evolution described in his previous works is preceded by an involution of Spirit into Matter. This involution follows the reverse stages to the sequence of evolution - e.g. Spirit to soul to mind to life to matter. Once the stage of insentient, lifeless matter is attained, then "something like the Big Bang occurs", whereupon matter and manifest world come into concrete existence, from which stage evolution follows.

See also

  • Involution (Meher Baba)
    Involution (Meher Baba)
    For Indian spiritual master Meher Baba, involution is the inner path of the human soul to the Self. Charles Haynes, in describing Meher Baba's sense of involution writes, "The old and new impressions, both of which create a veil over consciousness, gradually wear away, revealing an increasingly ...

  • Law of Complexity/Consciousness
    Law of Complexity/Consciousness
    The Law of Complexity/Consciousness is the tendency in matter to become more complex over time and at the same time to become more conscious. The law was first formulated by Jesuit priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin....

  • Round (Theosophy)
    Round (Theosophy)
    A round in the esoteric cosmology of Theosophy, Anthroposophy and Rosicrucianism is a cosmic cycle or sequence by which an evolving reincarnating being passes through the various stages of existence as the Earth, the Solar System or the Cosmos comes into and passes out of manifestation.-The...