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A New Integral Paradigm - Cosmology, Involution, and Evolution

Involution

By "Involution" is meant the descent or transformation of "spirit" into "matter". This is usually associated with the theory of Emanation. Since "spirit" (or the Absolute, or "God" if you want to use that religious term) comes first, there must be some way to explain how this original Transcendent Reality and Consciousness becomes the universe of multiplicity and finite existence. In Neoplatonism and Kashmir Shaivism this is explained in terms of the mechanics of emanation, which is a timeless ahistorical process. Some esoteric cosmologies go further, and introduce a historical element. In this, the creation or formation of the Physical Universe was preceeded by a number of previous non-physical, psychic or spiritual stages; for example the elaborate Theosophical and Anthroposophic concept of prior Rounds and Root Races, and the fascinating imaginative accounts of pre-creation fall and restitution that are central to the Gnostic and Lurianic Kabbalistic dramaturgies.

In all these instances, there is generally just a single parameter or dimension of being. But as the present thesis presumes the existence of four ontological gradations, emanation cannot be a simple linear process. It is suggested therefore that as far as the creation or coming into being of the physical universe is ccncerned, involution/emanation is fourfold. Or rather, there are four distinct processes, all of which come together to constitute objective physical reality. Physical reality is thus a sort of maximum involution stage, but also the point of greatest stability (hence the positive interepretation of the Samkhyan guna (quality) of tamas as "stability"). In the Lurianic Kabbalistic conception this is the "central point" ("Malkhut of Assiah" - the lowest sefirah of the lowest world) because it is furthest from the Godhead . This is perhaps based on the medieval worldview which is - as Arthur Lovejoy points out, not so much geocentric as hadocentric (ref p.xxx).

Four-fold involutionAs indicated in the diagram on the left, the mundane physical reality comes about through the Involution of Consciousness, the Descent of Mind (and Astral and Etheric), the Exteriorisation of the Inner Being, and the Individualisation or atomistic focus of Universal and Cosmic Being.

We see this symbolically indicated in the Kabbalistic tree of life, where three sephirot (Netzah (lowest sefirah of the pillar of mercy), Hod (lowest sefirah of the pillar of severity), and Yesod (pillar of balance)) all converge on a fourth one, Malkhut or Kingdom (also pillar of balance, lowest sefirah of it), which represents mundane reality. (This is however in the modern hermetic Kabbalistic tree (e.g. in the Golden Dawn system); early versions of the tree and Malkhut connected only to Yesod). This could be thought of to represenet different worlds and parameters, although as analogies only, the three pillars do not easily correspond to the four axii of being presented here.

Of course, there can still be, and often is, involution and emanation along only one of these lines of manifestation. There can be an exteriorisation of Inner Being on the Mental or Astral level, or an involution of consciousness so it identifies with its objects on a subtle level of existence. But it wouldn't be correct to have a simple 4-dimensional cartesian fractal grid, since not all combinations are valid. For example at the higher noetic levels there is no identification with objects or outer being, as the beings on this level are fully conscious of their own divine natures. At least this is what the perennial philosophy would seem to indicate, referring to the higher worlds or realms of Light. This is why the Tree is equally valid as a metaphor as the Grid. But even a partial Map of reality is still to be worked out, the suggestions here are just the barest hints and tentative musings.



still under construction








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text content and original diagrams by M.Alan Kazlev
originally Cosmology page; uploaded as separate page 13 September 2005