Involution is just one facet of inner work. Like many things in life, Involution, the Evolution of the heart, mind and soul, exists as a variety of distinct, yet interconnected paths. Involution is a process we intentionally choose to go through to live intelligent, authentic and whole lives. This process consists of 7 different elements:
All of us exist in each of these elements in differing degrees.
The key is to discover which elements you exist in the most, and which elements you exist in the least. Discovering this will help you see what you need to work on the most. Here, we will explore each path of the Involutionary process in a bit of detail.
Also called Self-Consciousness, Self-Awareness is the ability to observe the variety of thoughts, feelings and actions you carry out every day. A Self-Aware person is able to identify what they are feeling, but not necessarily why they are feeling that way. A lack of Self-Awareness is defined by animal-like behaviour, or behaving without thinking – usually called reacting. If you are a Self-Aware person, you have:
- The ability to introspect.
- The ability to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, personality and behaviour.
Self-exploration, or the study of oneself, is the process of investigating and analysing our inner thoughts, emotions, beliefs and ideals. Once we become aware of our internal processes (thinking, feeling, reacting and decision making), it is then beneficial to ask why we function the way we do. Self-exploration is often a complex process that involves a lot of introspection, observation, patient consideration and research. It is important to realise that in order to discover who we are, we first need to study who we are. If you are a Self-Exploring person, you:
- Explore how you feel, think and behave.
- Gain knowledge and understanding of yourself through a variety of means (books, workshops, films, tests, meditation etc.)
This can be understood as the act or process of gaining knowledge or understanding of yourself. Self-Discovery is closely linked with Self-Exploration because without studying oneself, attaining a degree of Self-Discovery is impossible. People who live in this level tend to discover the underlying mechanisms and truths upholding many of their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours towards themselves and the people around them. If you are a Self-Discovering person, you have:
- Attained insight into what, how and why you feel, think and behave the way you do.
Also called Self-Knowledge, Self-Understanding is the ability to know what, how, and why you do what you do. For this reason, Self-Understanding is closely linked to, and often overlaps with, Self-Discovery. People who live in this level tend to have a well-rounded understanding of the origins and reasons behind many of their feelings, thoughts and behaviours. If you are a Self-Understanding person, you have:
- A thorough understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, attitudes, beliefs, motives, defences and reactions.
Self-Love comes as a result of achieving Self-Understanding, and is defined by a complete acceptance of your strengths and weaknesses.
Individuals who practice self-love realize that they are imperfect in different ways, but cease to criticize and punish themselves for these imperfections. If you are a Self-Loving person, you:
- Accept yourself, “warts and all”.
- Stop punishing yourself for your imperfections.
- Develop self-esteem and self-forgiveness.
- Show self-nurturing behaviours, and respect your needs and desires.
When we become Self-Aware, undertake Self-Exploration, obtain Self-Discovery, Understanding and Love, it is then that we come to experience true inner transformation. Self-Transformation can be understood as the transcendence of our previous limiting and destructive identities, or ego selves. The Self-Transforming person:
- Experiences changes in the way they live life, as well as perceive themselves and other people.
- Experiences increased harmony with the world, other people and themselves.
The final goal of the Involutionary process is to attain Self-Mastery. In essence, the Self-Master is an observer of his or her thoughts and feelings, letting them come and go without identifying with or reacting to them. After all, the Self-Master realizes that he is not his momentary thoughts or feelings. In this way, the Self-Master transcends himself, living his life with peace, wisdom and spiritual wholeness.
Self-Mastery however, is not to be confused with austerity or “being in control”, as these imply reaction to thoughts and feelings by avoidance or repression. The Self-Master is not affected by anything and doesn’t feel the need to control, repress or restrain. Self-Mastery is rare, and includes:
- The ability to simply observe feelings and emotions without identifying with them.
- The ability to realize that we are not our thoughts and emotions.
- The ability to stop reacting out of hatred, anger, embarrassment, jealousy and other harmful emotions.
- The ability to live life with peace and wisdom.
Examples of Self-Masters: Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster, George Gurdjieff, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Diogenes, Mahavira, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Vimala Thakar, Sri Ramakrishna, Jesus of Nazareth.
So, now that you’ve reached the end, have you discovered what element you exist in most? What path are you most eager to explore? It’s good to remember that Involution is composed of distinct, yet interconnected paths – in other words, each is dependent on the other to achieve the rest.
I would love to hear any thoughts or feelings you have. Please feel free to share them below if you’d like to create some discussion.