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, in others an
aspect of evolution, and still others a process that follows the
completion of evolution in the human form.
Involution according to Esoteric cosmology
In Theosophy, Anthroposophy and Rosicrucianism, involution and evolution are
part of a complex sequence of cosmic cycles,
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 in
an already established matter, 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
That period of time devoted to the
attainment of self-consciousness and the building of
the vehicles 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 into divineomniscience,
is called "spiritual evolution."
In the cosmology of Surat Shabda Yoga, involution and evolution apply to both the macrocosm, the whole of creation, and
the microcosm, the constitution of an
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, a Rosicrucian text written by Max Heindel, advances the concept
of epigenesis as
the key related to the evolution (after an involutionary period)
of human beings.
Involution according to Sri Aurobindo
For Sri Aurobindo, involution is the process
by which the Omnipresent Reality, i.e. the Absolute, Brahmanextends Itself to create a
universe of separate forms from out of Its own Force/Energy.
Sat, Chit-Tapas, and Delight/Ananda are the three aspects
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.
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.
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.
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.
evolution is the development of all entities in the cosmos, 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
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.)
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
Chit-Tapas or Consciousness-Force, in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy refers to the
pure energy ofConsciousness 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
theVedic cosmology and the seven lokas of Hindu thought.
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 dichotomy of Shiva and
Shakti), Chit or Consciousness is not an inert and passive
principle; but contains the potential spiritual Energy, Tapas, which in Creation becomes the
dynamic and creative principle or Force, called Shakti. Chit-Tapas or Chit-Shakti is
therefore the universal Consciousness-Force, the divine Energy; the Mother.
is Sri Aurobindo's
term for ananda, and plays a large part in
his cosmology and spiritualteaching. 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.
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, we experience the delight for
which we were came into being and of which we are a part.
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.
article: Involution (Meher Baba)
Meher Baba uses
"involution" in the opposite meaning; rather than the descent of
Spirit into matter, he refers to it as meaning the inner path of the human soul
to the transcendent Self.
Other Indian interpretations
For Baba Hari Dass, Evolution is the Cause of
Involution, and vice versa. (Baba Hari Dass is a Maunisadhu monk who practices
In integral thought, involution is the
process by which the Divine manifests the cosmos. The process by which the creation
rises to higher states and states of consciousness is the evolution.
Involution prepares the universe for
the Big Bang; evolution continues from that
point forward. The terminvolution comes from the idea that the
divine involves itself in creation. After the creation, the
Divine (i.e. the Absolute, Brahman, God)
is both the One (the
Creator) and the Many (that which was created).
integral philosopher Ken Wilber refers
to involution in his online chapter of Kosmic Karma, employing
concepts from Plotinus, Advaita Vedanta, Tibetan Buddhism, 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.