What do I mean by "involution"? from Joe Perez's Until by Joe Perez
Originally posted on August 19, 2007. Note: Most of this post was originally composed via a method of stream-of-consciousness writing called a Whole Write. Be on the alert that there are a few moments of letting my shadow out to dance. Read at your own risk.
John wants me to define involution. So I wrote this.
Any moron can see that involution is the metaphysical process by which the Absolute or God or Brahman involves itself in creation through a series of manifestations, generally regarded as a sequence of stages of enfolding. Evolution is the opposite of involution, so generally what we know about involution is by inference: it is what evolution is NOT. In terms of concepts within time, evolution may be fruitfully viewed as a process of emergence out of the Spirit, so you can say involution took place before evolution. On the other hand, you can also say that involution does not take place within time and therefore it makes no difference whether involution precedes or follows evolution or occurs simultaneously.
Got that? If you don’t, I’m not surprised. It’s rather abstract to me, too. And apart from placing involution within the context of a fully fleshed out metaphysical edifice such as Sri Aurobindo’s, it’s tough to really speak about involution and come away feeling satisfied. It’s easier for me to feel like a moron. And yet I feel called to speak about involution because it’s part of my own process of self-discovery and self-realization. Metaphysics is a layer of abstraction, an overlay, that attempts to interpret personal religious or spiritual experience. (As I use metaphysics, it’s always provisional–my best effort at explanation within a plethora of socially and culturally created contexts.) For example, I may have a sense of connection to nature, for instance, and this may show up as the belief that Nature with a capital N or Gaia with a capital G is a mystical Oneness which is not separate from the self with the little s. You probably do something like that, even if you don’t call what you do metaphysics.
If you’re trying to wrap a layer of theory around evolution — and that’s what the 20 tenets of all holons is — that’s what Integral theory is all about — that’s the perennial philosophy and most of theology in general whether it knows it or not — then in large part you’re trying to make sense of your own holistic development: the various processes that led you from where you were as an infant to where you were as a toddler, then a child, then a school age kid, then a teenager, then a young adult, and then an adult, and then a middle-aged adult and then… Evolutionary theory is, in large measure, an attempt to grasp the process of development. So involutionary theory is, at least for me, an attempt to grasp the process of regression.
Have you ever regressed? Really regressed? Have you ever let the torrents of madness and the tsunamis of irrationality overcome you, destroy you, and leave you for dead? Have you ever been such a danger to yourself or others that you could not be trusted to take care of yourself minimally? Have you ever lost it, really really lost it? Have you ever watched Psycho or One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest or A Beautiful Mind and said, you know Anthony Perkins or Jack Nicholson or Russell Crowe’s performance is really good, but it’s not quite like that in real life? It’s like this. Madness is…
As for me, I’m still working on understanding involution from the inside out. That’s because I believe that I have touched my true nature — and it was a crazy, mad, psychotic fool, a paranoid, delusional, weirdo — and that it was not separate from the Godhead, the Absolute, the Spirit of All. (How could it be? If you subscribe to any notion of nonduality whatsoever. Doesn’t God go crazy? How could He not?) And then, having touched that space, I fell out of space and time and suddenly ordinary perceptions of “reality” had no bearing on me. Miracles happened. The world lost form. Time moved backwards. Time stood still. Time skipped around. The world and my mind and time were all wrapped up in a fantastic maze of my own design, and I was a lost seeker journeying in the dark on the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure that I would be lucky to survive.
- There is a point that is forgetting of who-you-are in the service of who-or-what-you-might-and-must-become.
- There is a point when you have recovered a memory and are, for an instant, holding both the reclaimed memory and that which is forgotten, together. You are both forgotten and reclaimed.
- There is a point where synthesis looks back at antithesis and almost, but not quite, becomes antithesis.
- There is a point where an actor loses herself in her role utterly and becomes invisible, forgotten, unconscious.
- There is a point that is the letting go of Godhead for the relative world of illusion, willfully and knowingly giving up Absolute for a mad, crazy dash at freedom.