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Cosmology, Involution, and Evolution

Reality is not static. There is however a disagreement among various religions, philosophies, and esoteric systems as regards the way in which the cosmos came about, and where it is heading. Some insist on a timeless metaphysical sequence of emanation (e.g. Neoplatonism, pre-Lurianic Kabbalah), or an indefinite or endless series of cycles of creation/emanation and withdrawl/dissolution (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism), whilst others propose a dramaturgic sequence of fall and restitution (Gnosticism, Christianity, Lurianic Kabbalah), others again a cyclic series of evolutionary descents into matter and return to spirit (Theosophy, Anthroposophy), or an evolutionary ascent (Darwinism) involving a series of quantum stages (Teilhard 1957, Haskell, Jantsch), or a descent and an ascent (Hegel, Sri Aurobindo 1977, Wilber 2005)

Through a number of intermediate worlds, hypostases, descents, veils, self-involutions, call them what you will, and emanating into innumerable beings, this infinite eternal perfect Supreme becomes polarised into the finite and imperfect temporal interplay of Yin and Yang, which to give the beautiful Hindu metaphor is nothing else but the lila (sport, play, delight) of the Absolute.

Occult Worlds

It has often been proposed that beyond physical reality there are any number of subtle, psychic, spiritual, and occult realities.  These realities are perceptible to people who, whether through yogic or occult training or simply openness of mind and imagination, have allowed themselves to experience these things.  The French word clairvoyance ("clear-seeing"), although  given a specific meaning in parapsychology, is also commonly used in the general sense to refer to perception - whether through simple imagination or actual psychic or spiritual vision - of these supra-physical realities.

The Involution-Evolution Arc

The yin-yang diagram shows reality as a circle.  The Involution-Evolution Arc in contrast is linear (although it can also form a circle (left).  Spirit descends or falls into Matter, then ascends back to Spirit.  This basic cosmological principle is found in Samkhya and Kashmir Shaivism among the Indian philosophies, and Christianity, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Neoplatonism, Sufism and Kabbalah in the Middle Eastern and Western systems of thought.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was represented by the Theosophy of Blavatsky, the Anthroposphy of Steiner, the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, and the teachings of Meher Baba.  These are all metaphysical systems of thought.  However the inventor and philosophy Arthur Young proposed a scientific version which illustrates stages in terms of increasing degrees of restriction or freedom (very much like Gurdjieff's cosmology in this regard)

The Involution and Evollution Arc according to Arthur M YoungIf we have (following the mandala and tetrakys models) four planes of existence altogether, then the descending-ascending principle passes through seven evolutionary stages altogether (3 descending, 1 at the bottom, and 3 ascending).  Seven is another one of those fundamental numbers, but more so in esotericism and metaphysics than in mathematics or science (although Arthur Young does present philosophical arguments for the validity of the seven).  Thus seven planets, metals, celestial spheres etc in ancient Mithraism and Chaldeism, seven chakras (subtle organs of consciousness) in Shakta Tantra, forty-nine (7 x 7) days of intermediate (between death and rebirth) existence in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, seven levels on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, seven planes, cycles, root races, subtle bodies, etc in Theosophy, and so on.

Emanation and Evolution

The following diagram shows the way that the One becomes Many, and the Many evolve to Perfection.

Emanation and Evolution

The One or Unity is the Manifest Absolute, the "Logos", the Godhead, shown as a big yellow sun (in keeping with Egyptian and with Sri Aurobindo's symbolism).

The interplay of Yin and Yang, Matter and Spirit, Universe and Self, Outer and Inner, Governor and Work Component, is represented by the co-action compass of Edward Haskell's Unified Science. As this shows, evolution can either proceed synergically and "syntropically" "upwards" to more organised, complex and more conscious structures, culminating in the actualisation of the Godhead itself, Sri Aurobindo's "Supramentalisation", or it can tend "downwards" and retrogressively towards disorder and eventual thermal equilibrium (entropy). In short, either "life" or "death". Every decision one makes, and every action one makes, has the effect of furthering life, complexity, and consciousness, or destroying ordered systems and complexity (hence this is also a "moral compass").

Evolution is teleological, this is "spiritual evolution"

The omega shown in this diagram links to the Noetic Absolute, as this represents the transformation of all the worlds. (Hopefully I'll get around to drawing other diagrams showing various aspects of the interrelation between finite and infinite, and evolving being and teleological goal)

Most current accounts of evolution, both scientific and esoteric, tend to be limited and one-sided. Either they only describe the physical side of things, ignoring the subtle realities, or they describe things only from an occult perspective but get the science wrong. The aim (with the Integral Paradigm) is to integrate both perspectives and methodologies.


Sri Aurobindo (1977), The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1959) The Phenomenon of Man Collins Fontana Books, London

Wilber, Ken 2005 Kosmic Karma, Shambhala Publications, online

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text content and original diagrams by M.Alan Kazlev
emanation and evolution section and diagram uploaded 16 July 2004, uploaded as separate page 30 May 2005 (as part of A New Integral Paradigm thesis); this page 14 January 2009