I was first introduced to this concept by my studies of Gurdjieff, and then soon after that by way of Castaneda. Namely the concept of a higher being which consumes the accumulated life force (or memories and experience) of a person at death. In terms of Gurdjieff this is by way of the Moon, and in terms of Castaneda this is by way of "the Eagle". The difference here is that the concept of "the Eagle" refers to the creator and source of all things, while the Moon does not - however both consume this life force as a kind of nourishment, and in Gurdjieffs case the Moon is said to be requiring this nourishment for its ongoing development into a higher lifeform, which in his system would be a planet such as Earth. However, both the Moon and the Eagle are said to be in control of people at the earthly level, in terms of setting the rules or laws by which the collective and individual minds of mankind are governed.
Gurdjieff's system more closely resembles a modern Gnostic systemology, however at its core, Castaneda's system is also essentially gnostic - as the most important faculty is termed "seeing", which is to directly perceive reality without mediation of any sort, i.e. gnosis. Gurdjieff says a person must "awaken" and then "die" so he may be "born". This is a clear progression of stages from what he calls man #4 (working to awake) into man #5 (awakened), and then into man #6 (working to integrate totality) and then into man #7 (fully integrated totality of possibilities, i.e. perfected, complete, etc.). Castaneda actually has the same progression outlined as Apprentice -> Warrior -> Sorcerer -> Man of Knowledge. These stages also correlate in terms of what qualities are to be developed at each stage, although of course the many details may vary due to all manner of cultural differences and so forth.
Gurdjieff says that mankind generally only serves the purposes of the moon, that his entire life is lived in a kind of hypnotic sleep (induced by the influence of the moon) and at death, his entire life's experience is harvested by the moon. The goal of "awakening" is breaking free of this hypnotic sleep, and allows a person to rather serve the purposes of the earth, then the purposes of the 7 planetary system, then the purposes of the Sun, and finally the purposes of the Galaxy (progressively as per the stages described above.). It is regarded that if someone has awakened to any degree, whatever it is within them that has awakened and forged some coherence of being has a possibility to continue to develop and evolve after death, either in the astral realms or by being reincarnated again on earth.
Castaneda says that mankind serves the purposes of the Eagle, and lifes its life to accumulate life experience which provides the Eagle its food. The Eagle is said to be the source of all life, all forms, it is the substance which everything is composed of and also provides the space in which things appear. The idea here is that since the Eagle feeds on the life experience of beings, it is possible to create a "double" impression or an "extra copy" of this experience and thereby give that to the Eagle, which would allow ones life force itself to remain free and clear and unneeded by the Eagle. Namely this is accomplished by the practice known as "recapitulation" whereby the person engages in a kind of meditation where they go back over all memories and basically detach themselves from all mental, emotional investment in them, and reclaim the energy that has been frozen into them as traumatic patterns, habits, etc. and so forth. There is also the general practice known as "impeccability" which is more like an ongoing detachment from experience and events that allows an extra level of awareness and essentially creates a double impression of all experience - as a person experiences events and at the same time actively witnesses themselves experiencing the events. This aspect of practicing "impeccability" is nearly identical to Gurdjieff's concept of "self-remembering", and indeed the concept overarching both these practices is basically the same.
At any rate, at first I thought this was an interesting relation between these two modern systems of self-cultivation. I had an intuition that it was related to ancient ideas - and also it just seems to correlate quite realistically to the rest of the natural world. Also, I have never assumed humanity to be at the top of the food chain, as I have always known there are more intelligent, more evolved, more powerful beings out there - having had a number of personal experiences myself over the years with such beings. As time went on and I continued studying other systems, I noticed hints here and there that might indicate this kind of "food-chain" idea was much more widespread, even though it seemed often downplayed or hidden or perhaps willfully ignored.
My intuition of its closest relation remained centered around the Gnostic systems of yore, particularly in terms of their greater ideas of the hierarchical power structure of the cosmos and the perhaps somewhat paranoid (and rightly so) perspectives they have in regards to it. Then I finally discovered a direct connection to the early Gnostic sects while studying the Nag Hammadi texts, a few years ago. The exact passage is #60 from the Gospel According to Thomas, the text of which is in Greek. These were supposedly sayings attributed to Jesus. It is as follows:
They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his way to Judea. Jesus said to his disciples, "That man is round about the lamb"
They said to him, "So he may kill it and eat it."
He said to them, "While it is alive he will not eat it, but only when he has killed it and it has become a corpse."
They said to him, "He cannot do so otherwise."
He said to them, "You too, look for a place for yourselves within repose, lest you become a corpse and be eaten".
This pretty much seals the deal on this exact idea being in circulation at that time, and Id suspect it to be something that has existed since pre-history, considering the primordial nature of this idea.
You are probably already aware the Greek term "Gnosis" has a sanskrit equivalent in "Jnana". In terms of Jnana yoga and systems involving this practice, the literature is extensive beyond belief and therefore it is difficult to track down exact correlations - although many scenarios involving eating and drinking various beings and so forth are pretty widespread... however the Bhagavad Gita does have an interesting portrayal. This is from Chapter 11, starting at Verse 28:
As the rivers flow into the sea, so all these great warriors enter Your blazing mouths and perish.
I see all people rushing with full speed into Your mouths as moths dash into a blazing fire.
O Vishnu, I see You devouring all people in Your flaming mouths and covering the universe with Your immeasurable rays. Scorching the worlds, You are manifest.
It is my personal theory that the systems of Gnostic practice are intimately tied to what is also known as the "perennial tradition". At their core, they are essentially scientific systems - as the study and development of mind and being always directly correlates with the study and development of the world and cosmos. It seems very clear that the rise of the Alchemical traditions from all over the globe (egyptian, taoist, arabic, tantric, european) all share common threads of knowledge and certainly all have the same common goal. This kind of practice of "perfecting" and developing a progression of knowledge and understanding and especially ability is the essence of the so-called "gnostics" (as they themselves did not regard themselves with this name, it was originally just a disparaging remark made by Bishop Irenaeus to lump all "heretical" christian sects together). The christian variations of this tradition are just one of many, many, many instances of the same core practice and core conceptual world view that has arisen all over the globe, in every era. It is not perhaps that obvious to outside observers who only regard these issues academically - but for those who actually are practicioners, the connections are clear as crystal. It is actually quite enriching to be able to study numerous systems that approach the same eternal truth which such varied and different approaches and symbols and hierarchies and characters and so forth.
It is also my personal theory that this essential core of gnostic practice has its origin in the tradition of shamanism - which is of course the oldest and most ancient form of self-cultivation. Shamanism is the forefather of all spiritual, metaphysical and philosophical traditions, and it is especially apparent in Alchemy. It could easily be said that Alchemy is basically "civilized shamanism".
Finally, it is this original shamanic core which would perhaps be most amenable to the idea of a food-chain scenario, which is itself a direct relation to the workings of the natural world order - and I think would be the most likely source for the institution of this world-view. Of course we have seen aspects of this idea appearing in the explanations for human sacrifice, although that is obviously complicated by many other man-made issues (politics, power, propaganda, etc) and is also just a taboo topic in general. When talking about sacrificing people and animals, the reasonings are dismissed too readily and everything is basically taken for granted as a silly superstition without allowing deeper investigation into the source and implication of the concepts behind it.
Miguel, I was wondering if you have any thoughts to share on this type of idea? Or have you come across any other stories and instances that are somewhat related to this?
|Food Chain of the Gods||1585||Orpheus||09-Apr-17 18:49|
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|Re: Food Chain of the Gods||143||Naveen||17-Apr-17 20:57|
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|Re: Food Chain of the Gods||210||Orpheus||17-Apr-17 21:38|
|Re: Food Chain of the Gods||116||SallyA||19-Apr-17 23:26|
|Re: Food Chain of the Gods -- neg-entropic gif||336||SallyA||19-Apr-17 23:55|