Lessons from nature

Illustration: Sudeep Chaudhuri

Animals face two challenges – finding food and defending themselves. The diverse methods that animals use to protect themselves hold great significance for human beings because they are natural methods bestowed by God. Nature teaches these methods to animals directly. It is as if they are students who have received this training in the school of nature.

Consider some examples in this regard.

Elephants and tigers are among the largest of animals. If an elephant and a tiger clash, it can cause the death of both. They are both well aware of this, and so they try to avoid each other. It is very rare that they allow themselves to enter into a conflict. A war in which the contending parties do not have the power to eliminate the other always ends in mutual destruction.

The same holds true for bulls. If two bulls fight, it is very unlikely that one can finish off the other. And so, bulls have an interesting way of avoiding such pointless confrontation—by establishing their respective boundaries. If two bulls enter the same locality and confront each other, they bang against each other’s horns to divide the territory into two separate zones, one for each of them. After this symbolic confrontation, they draw back and carefully observe the border they have demarcated between themselves. And so, it is very rare that two bulls fight with each other.

There is an insect which curls up and freezes when touched. It uses this tactic to protect itself from ipredators. When it sees that its predator is almost on top of it and escape is impossible, it turns completely motionless. The predator thinks it is dead and ignores it. When it leaves the scene, the insect runs away.

Animals that live in burrows constantly face the threat of predators entering their habitat. Because their homes are very small, they cannot run away from their front doors if an intruder enters. That is why such animals always make another tunnel at the rear of their homes, which they use to escape in emergency situations. In this way, they save themselves from their enemies.

There is a very tiny insect that uses a fascinating method of eliminating its enemies. It stings its enemy—like an injection—and then lays innumerable eggs inside its enemy’s body. The eggs soon hatch into babies that begin to eat up the enemy’s body from within. The babies grow into larvae that struggle to come out of their host’s body. This causes the host terrific pain, but it finds itself confronted with enemies that it cannot fight with because they are present inside its body. The larvae keep up their struggle to get out of their host’s body till they manage to succeed in tearing its body apart, causing the enemy’s death.

These diverse methods of protection that nature has schooled animals in hold important lessons for humans. For humans, too, the best policy to adopt vis-à-vis their opponents is to save themselves from directly clashing with them, and, instead, try to move ahead by avoiding confrontation. One’s opponent should not get the opportunity to feel that one is interfering in his or her domain. If one happens to confront one’s opponent, one should avoid aggression. Or, one can keep oneself carefully confined to one’s own domain, and, in this way, convince one’s opponent that one will not cause him any harm. Along with this, one should also adopt measures that will enable one to foil one’s opponent’s aggressive plans in a possible emergency situation. If it is necessary to take action against one’s opponent, then the best way is to insert something of one’s own into the opponent’s ‘body’, which will silently eat up his ‘body’ and finish him off from within.

Animals did not invent these methods of protection by themselves. It was God who taught these to them. These methods have divine sanction. They are not a form or expression of cowardice. Rather, they indicate a very necessary pragmatism. They teach us humans that we, too, should avoid unnecessary confrontation with others, and, instead, focus on our own growth.

Some animals roam about in search of fodder; others in search of their mates. Some hunt for food for their babies. While engaged in these and other such tasks, they may suddenly confront an enemy. If they enter into a fight with them, the work that they had set out to do would be completely disrupted. That is why all animals abstain from direct confrontation with their enemies, unless they find themselves in a situation where they feel absolutely compelled to do so. In order to continue their own constructive work, they simply avoid conflict and move ahead.

Animals use this wise approach to dealing with opponents on the basis of instinct. Humans must use the very same approach, but based on conscious choice and awareness.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.