Entropy is a scientific theory that holds that the universe tends towards increasing disorder and dissolution over time, eventually having ordered patterns break down into randomness or chaos, and dissolution. While it is set forth in Western science as the second law of thermodynamics in a very specific way, it has taken on a much broader meaning when it is applied to the creation of the universe and its eventual dissolution. It is one of the key concepts that has ruled Western scientific thinking for a considerable period of time. This theory of entropy relies on the idea that the universe is wholly material in nature, consisting of Matter and Energy. It does not address the centrality of consciousness as the creating, informing and containing reality of existence, with Matter and Energy as specific results of consciousness, not the cause. It also assumes that Matter and Energy are a closed system and that there is nothing outside that framework that can create or add to it. For example, if we have a vehicle with fuel in it and set it in motion, it will run until the fuel runs out and then stop. If we don’t consider things further, we see this as an example of entropy. But if someone comes along and adds more fuel to the vehicle, it can start up again and we recognise that it is not entropy but a cyclical result of adding or decreasing available energy based on an actor outside the limits of the vehicle and its existing energy reserves.
If we look closely at creation, it does not seem that entropy is necessarily the end result of creation. There is a cycle of creation and dissolution and new creation, and through a deeper understanding of this pattern, we can see that the creation actually exhibits more order and complexity over time as it systematically evolves greater powers of consciousness into manifestation.
The process of creation is cyclical in nature as a large number of different levels, each with their own needs and characteristic lines of action, need to be harmonized to move everything forward in a balanced manner. Thus, an increase of the power of life energy requires suitable modifications to the physical forms that need to hold and utilize that energy. An influx of new mental powers requires changes to both the material form and the life energy. Progress must necessarily move step by step, as ascent to the next plane or level will require a period of integration into the foundation or basis upon which the progress is being built.
What may appear to us to be entropy therefore may actually be a period of integration that focuses on upgrading the prior levels so that the next advance can take place without breaking the entire system. The question then is one of perspective and time-frame of the view we take of the movement of the universal energy.
The ancient sages referred to vast periods of time called “yugas” which represented various stages of development or breakdown, and which cycled from dissolution to new creation and back again. Entropy in this case was seen as part of a cyclical process which eventually led to a new and increasing level of consciousness, organization and complexity, and not as an “end result”.
Sri Aurobindo writes: “The cycles of evolution tend always upward, but they are cycles and do not ascend in a straight line. The process therefore gives the impression of a series of ascents and descents, but what is essential in the gains of the evolution is kept or, even if eclipsed for a time, re-emerges in new forms suitable to the new ages. The creation has descended all the degrees of being from the Supermind to Matter and in each degree it has created a world, reign, plane or order proper to that degree. In the creating of the material world there was a plunge of this descending Consciousness into an apparent Inconscience and an emergence of it out of that Inconscience, degree by degree, until it recovers its highest spiritual and supramental summits and manifests their powers here in Matter. But even in the Inconscience there is a secret consciousness which works, one may say, by an involved and hidden Intuition proper to itself.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Planes of Consciousness and Parts of the Being, pp. 43-46