As already stated [Section 52], these “lowest things” are all the elements of the mineral kingdom—various forms of matter, some stony substances, some saline, some oily, some mineral, some metallic, with the constant addition of a humus composed of plant and animal matter reduced to minute particles. Here lie hidden the goal and the beginning of all the functions that arise from life. The goal of all useful functions is the effort to produce [more] functions; the beginning of all functions is an active force that comes out of that effort. These are characteristics of the mineral kingdom.
The intermediate things are all the elements of the plant kingdom—grasses and herbs of all kinds, plants and shrubs of all kinds, and trees of all kinds. Their functions are in support of everything in the animal kingdom, whether flawed or flawless. They provide food, pleasure, and life. They nourish [animal] bodies with their substance, they delight them with their taste and fragrance and beauty, and they enliven their desires. This effort is inherent in them from their life.
The primary things are all the members of the animal kingdom. The lowest of these are called worms and insects, the intermediate ones birds and animals, and the highest humans; for there are lowest, intermediate, and highest things in each kingdom. The lowest are for the service of the intermediate and the intermediate for the service of the highest. So the useful functions of all created things tend upwards in a sequence from the lowest to the human, which is primary in the divine design.
There are three ascending levels in the physical world and three ascending levels in the spiritual world. All animals are life-receivers, the more perfect ones receiving the life of the three levels of the physical world, the less perfect receiving the life of two levels of that world, and the least perfect the life of one level. Only we humans are receptive of the life not only of the three levels of the physical world but also of the three levels of the spiritual world. This is why we, unlike animals, can be lifted up above the physical world. We can think analytically and rationally about civil and moral issues within the material world and also about spiritual and heavenly issues that transcend the material world. We can even be lifted up into wisdom to the point that we see God. I will discuss in their proper place, though, the six levels by which the functions of all created things rise up all the way to God, their Creator.
This brief summary enables us to see that there is a ladder of all created things to that First who alone is life and that the functions of all things are the actual vessels of life, and so too, therefore, are the forms of those functions.
from Divine Love and Wisdom, Sections 65, 66
Section 52: Published 5/22/2018