This week we bring you a selection from our Key Concepts section, on Evolution and Involution.
Theosophical writings spend quite a lot of time on the subject of Involution and Evolution, yet in Theosophy the exploration is not limited to beings on Earth, but is expanded to encompass an entire Universal Evolution. In Theosophy, evolution is seen as an aspect of the fundamental motion of Cosmos, but an aspect that is always paired with its twin, involution.
The general idea is first that Everything is alive, that the entire Universe is a vast living entity, and second that the entire whole is thus experiencing a grand process of evolution. This is seen to operate like a Great Breath, an ‘outbreathing’ into material form and an ‘inbreathing’ back into essential spirit. We can also envision this as the One becoming the Many and then rebecoming the One. The Evolution aspect is the process of developing material forms or bodies, while the involution aspect is the process of rising back into spirit. Some have called this the movement from homogenous to heterogeneous and back to homogenous. Evolution and Involution thus follow one another in a cyclical process—evoluting outwards into matter, returning or involuting inwards into spirit, evoluting back into matter, involuting inwards again, and so on.
Thus Evolution is seen as a process of recurring day and night, waking and sleeping, birth and death, and Theosophy sees this process everywhere in Nature—whether the evolution be of humanity, of animals and vegetation, or of entire worlds, solar systems, galaxies and beyond. The one process, like a Great Breath, is found everywhere. And thus everywhere there is Evolution.
The Theosophical perspective on Darwinian Evolution is not that it is wrong, but only that it is restricted, examining only one portion of the whole process. Theosophists agree with many of the details of Darwin’s theories, and in no way deny the process of adaptation, survival of the fittest, etc., but we expand the vision beyond the purely physical to glimpse a larger, beautiful and divine process occurring everywhere throughout eternal duration.
For more on the Theosophical view of Evolution and Involution, see here:
This expansive concept ties together all the other Key Concepts, and so the student is encouraged to explore Evolution/Involution along side the concepts of Cycles/Periodicity, Divisions of Man and Nature, Human Perfectibility, and so on.