Predation & Food Chain
The preponderance of predator-prey systems and the food chain in Nature have often confounded spiritual understanding, and most spiritual traditions prefer to leave these manifestations alone, offering little by way of explanation for their existence. Yet true understanding cannot exclude these systems, for they are part and parcel of all experience at this level.
Before going further let us set the stage sufficiently.
In our book, The God Principle, we discussed the meaning of the oceans and waters that cover much of the earth, and also the various phenomena that occur there. We also pointed out that planet Earth, by far, facilitates the exploration of emotional realms by various life streams that inhabit it. Indeed, if one were to observe Earth from space, the very symbology of its appearance points out clearly to a spiritual observer: Here is a planet of emotion, par excellence !
We also mentioned earlier that a fragment of being in elementary stages of evolution often does not have the necessary drive to fulfill the Prime Directive, i.e. explore its own being and what existence has to offer, and in that progression ultimately return to the Godhead. An important impetus for moving ahead is provided via sexual division, which we have already discussed. While sexual division engenders a drive to explore and progress in a Being's own field of conscious awareness, it does not necessarily provide that being with the urge to reach up into higher levels of awareness. This moving up in scale must be done incrementally (we'll see why), by manifestation through progressively complex bodies which provide incremental improvements in awareness. But the urge to go higher needs to be there first, otherwise Being will stagnate in its development and by the law of striving (covered earlier), regress back in consciousness.
One of the important ways that the urge to move to another level is imparted, is through predation. As we covered in our earlier book, when predation involves an elementary consciousness, there is a merging of predator-prey consciousness that occurs. There suddenly opens, albeit briefly, a window of higher consciousness to the prey being consumed. An example given was that of a fish being swallowed by a bird. For a brief period during which the bodies become one, the consciousness of the fish is able to perceive what it means to be a more evolved being of relatively higher intelligence - the bird in this case. The experience opens a window into higher consciousness and serves as an impetus to its own evolution. It should be stated that it is the body that enables flowering of consciousness within a being, and the form of the fish is limited in how much it could assist in that expansion. It requires the merging of that form into a higher one to bring down such a higher experience of consciousness. If the being bound to a fish were to be directly bound to that of a bird instead, the mismatch of vibrations would result in little of perceptible awareness - in fact it may even become unconscious as in slumber, aware of nothing that it can perceive. A vibrationally suitable body is therefore an important facilitator and mediator for the incremental flowering of higher consciousness.
The above arrangement only holds to the extent that the lower form being consumed is relatively primitive and has only begun to experience emotion. Once strong emotion such as fear manifests, predator-prey merging of consciousness is inhibited. For these beings (which generally bind to higher order life forms), a predator instead provides a huge impetus to move ahead in evolution, by desiring to become like or better than the predator. The predator itself is in general of a higher order intelligence compared to prey. Thus every wave of being (or form of life) has a preferential predator, one which helps determine its path of evolution toward higher consciousness. There is an old Indian folktale about a mouse that wanted to become a snake, and then as a snake wanted to become a mongoose, the mongoose a wolf, the wolf a lion, and the lion a man.
Yet there is much more to predator-prey systems than facilitating this drive toward higher consciousness. In line with the pattern of development for this planet, progressive movement through these systems is such that various aspects of emotion are first pricked into wakefulness and then experienced in its various forms, with greater and greater intensity. Development from cold blooded forms that exhibit little by way of emotion, to warm blooded forms that exhibit more and more of emotional natures, with mammalian traits of suckling and taking care of the young, to social animals that have definite roles in a group - these represent a progressive flowering of emotion in all its vagaries. These are facilitated by physical bodies per se, providing each fragment of being with the ability to express various forms of emotion, such as fear, affection, aggression, hate and so on. Without the biologically provided impulse of the mothering instinct, i.e. the chemically induced emotion of attachment to the young, such an emotion could not be easily developed in a being by itself without significant efforts. The body is thus the great facilitator and teacher in the development and flowering of these traits.
Through all these, a soul essence is also reminded that the purpose of manifestation on the earth is not only to discover one's being, but also to be of service to others and the greater whole, which is albeit accomplished by the sacrifice of one's temporal body to nourish other species.
When emotional development reaches higher stages, a predator no longer necessarily represents a higher developed consciousness, but is usually one at the same level as that of the prey. What happens at this time is an alternating of experiences between predator and prey, balancing out emotional experiences from both forms of manifestation. Through alternate experiences between say, a deer form and a lion form, Being develops higher emotional traits such as empathy and compassion. This alternation arises naturally once individuality sets in (see our earlier discussions on identities), due to the workings of the principle of reflection, where Being must meet itself. In the East this reflection is known as karma. Such alternating cycles of of experience is a common pattern on the planet, wherever conflicting systems exist side by side. We pointed out in our earlier book that though these systems appear to be persistent (such as lions killing deer throughout the ages), persistence is only an appearance. It is never the same lion or the same deer that one encounters again. Waves of Being move through these systems and then move on, as new waves move in. Outwardly a system may appear to be persistent over time.
Similar systems are to be found in profusion among beings of the human race as well. Long standing conflicts, feuds and so on between nations, races and ethnic groups provide ample arenas. By alternating, for example, in experiences of conflict between certain Jewish and certain Arab groups, a being comes to a deep experiential understanding that hatred and bigotry have little place in the human heart, and proceeds to purge itself of those negative emotions. In this way, many conflicting systems in the longer run are actually beneficial to those who participate in them.
Nature is replete with many such systems, and they all facilitate the development of emotion in Being. We earlier pointed out that one of the very important purposes of humanity on this planet is to develop a society based primarily on the highest form of emotion - the Love that Christ knew. We also said that it absolutely requires experiencing all the vagaries of emotional experience, from plumbing its terrible depths to climbing its dizzying heights. It may now be understood that this specific purpose of Life is shared by almost all waves of Being that manifest on this beautiful planet. Man is meant to be the guide, teacher and care taker of this garden where all shall live in harmony ('The lion shall lie down with the lamb'). His journey of self discovery on this far flung piece of cosmic dust is unparalleled and unprecedented in the rest of Creation, and is observed with very great interest from above. For he is meant to be the teacher not just for this planet, but for all of the universe. Such is the great calling of Man.