Plant Sentient

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby xabir » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:39 pm

Lotus_Bitch wrote:What do you think of the Surangama Sutra? Regardless of when and who composed this work, it is widely regarded as a meditation manual first. Hence it's importance in Mahayana.

The view you are propounding is common among those of eternalistic views, which is why you'll hear of this in tribal communities as well.

In my understanding, malcolm's view is that plants have spirits as "inhabitants". This is not a new theory - the Buddha in the pali canon has acknowledged that spirits can (but maybe not always) "inhabit" or take form in plants and trees, which is why the vinaya rule against harming plant life. Note that of course "spirits" and "inhabitants" are just convention of a self-less mind-matter process.

I do not think malcolm is implying some universal, over-arching, eternalistic consciousness that is rejected in Shurangama. All mindstreams be it pertaining to plants, animals, spirits, etc are empty, impermanent, etc. But idk, he can clarify.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:08 pm

Lotus_Bitch wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote: This is a delusion that the Buddha himself tried to put an end to.


The Buddha did not say anything about it at all. All arguments againt plant sentience are from later, extra canonical, scholastic sources. There is in fact good evidence to suppose that like other contemporary Indians, early Buddhists beleived in the sentience of plants. Certainly Jains did and continue to do so.

What do you think of the Surangama Sutra? Regardless of when and who composed this work, it is widely regarded as a meditation manual first. Hence it's importance in Mahayana.


The arguments about the sentience of plants in Chinese Mahāyāna is well known with many Chinese masters coming down on the side of plant sentience.

The view you are propounding is common among those of eternalistic views, which is why you'll hear of this in tribal communities as well.


Am I? That is news to me. Are you quite sure all tribal people are eternalists? How did you come to universal knowledge of the beleifs of all tribal peoples?

In response to Xabir, the idea that plants have "spirits" inhabiting them is as silly as the idea we are a mind inhabiting a body. This is merely a perpetuation of the mind/matter dichtomy, the intractable substance dualism that has infected scholastic Buddhist discourse, with which modern Buddhists authors such as Alan Wallace jump through hoops to vainly defend.

Instead, I prefer to think that matter is intrinsically imbued with intelligence, and that all forms of matter may naturally manifest their intrisic intelligence given proper causes and conditions. In other words, I think the concepts "sentient" vs. "non-sentient" is just an abstraction. The intelligence of matter is a function of self-organization or autopoesis. It used to be the case that we beleived animals to be mere automata. Now we have revised that view, and we consider that while animals demonstrate will, communication, etc., we feel that plants are mere automata -- but this view is also slowly changing.

My present feeling is that we inhabit a living world, and it too has a consciousness that envelops us. In order to make it comprehensible we render it in archtypes like an Earth Goddess, Pritvi, etc. But the world is impermanent, and thus it too is subject to birth, aging, illness and death.

Why would the intelligence of a mountain, a planet, a solar system, a galaxy, a universe resemble that of a human being?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:28 pm

dharmagoat wrote:Trees communicating and benefiting one another is a cute idea, for sure. Unfortunately it all sounds like speculation, not science. What I find interesting is the idea that trees could communicate through their roots with the help of fungi, but no evidence is presented that they actually do.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if this video turned out to be a hoax. But well worth watching.


Read Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:46 pm

I was reflecting this morning sentience is not a function of individual members anyway. It is a function of the interaction of communities, just as our body is a member of a sentient community. It is the interactions of the five elements we can our body through all of its sense organs and so forth than gives rise to our consciousness.

This is why such notions as autopoesis (lhun grub) are critical for going beyond archaic and alienating notions inherent in the mind/matter dichtomy.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Dave The Seeker » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:47 pm

Andres, I'm not saying that they don't "move" to follow the sun.
But they do it in a solid location being rooted i. That location.

Malcom, yes Myceliun Running is a great book full of information. I also consider the fungi world entirely different from any other realm. Having studied and being certified in professional mushroom cultivation by Stamets, I'd have to say the fungi would have more characteristic tendencies of sentience than plants. Also in response to pulling the weeds being displacing the insects home. One is not makeing an area bare, there are other plants and root systems for them to reside in. Which most likely, they "visit" anyway.

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Will » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:59 pm

Seems I recall somewhere in the Vinaya Buddha teaching monks not to uproot trees or chop them down or something along those lines.

But the question, to me, is not whether plants are sentient - they are. But why sentient beings are considered, (among visible beings anyway) only those with 'blood & breath'. Plants and minerals are not counted, yet I also believe that matter has innate chit, not necessarily intelligence or awareness as humans know it, but some sort that can evolve into human-like awareness.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:04 pm

Malcolm wrote:This is why such notions as autopoesis (lhun grub) are critical for going beyond archaic and alienating notions inherent in the mind/matter dichtomy.


I am not quite sure what you are getting at it. Is it along similar lines as the Buddha-nature of insentients in East-Asian Mahayana?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:06 pm

Will wrote:Seems I recall somewhere in the Vinaya Buddha teaching monks not to uproot trees or chop them down or something along those lines.


IIRC (This is how it was related to me by a monk who asked me to help clear a forest path and couldn't do it himself), those precepts came about due to people complaining that the bhikkhus were destroying life when they carelessly moved through jungles or settled down and such. The Buddha acknowledged the criticism and made a rule, but it's not very clear whether it was because he agreed with the complaints or acceded to convention to keep the Sangha free from criticism and blame.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
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As your companion in practice"

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby xabir » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:17 pm

Malcolm wrote:In response to Xabir, the idea that plants have "spirits" inhabiting them is as silly as the idea we are a mind inhabiting a body.

What happens then when a person gets possesed by evil spirits so that the body gets taken control by another mindstream, or a taoist medium gets possesed by spirit-deities, or a tibetan oracle gets possesed by protectors etc? Can't the same happen for plants?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:18 pm

The Seeker wrote:Andres, I'm not saying that they don't "move" to follow the sun.
But they do it in a solid location being rooted i. That location.

Malcom, yes Myceliun Running is a great book full of information. I also consider the fungi world entirely different from any other realm. Having studied and being certified in professional mushroom cultivation by Stamets, I'd have to say the fungi would have more characteristic tendencies of sentience than plants. Also in response to pulling the weeds being displacing the insects home. One is not makeing an area bare, there are other plants and root systems for them to reside in. Which most likely, they "visit" anyway.

Kindest wishs, Dave



well, tell that to the bug the text time, you pull it up with some roots...The other day i was making some rosewater, and some junebugs crawled out of the rose heads, very indignant, i might add.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:19 pm

Anders wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote: This is a delusion that the Buddha himself tried to put an end to.


The Buddha did not say anything about it at all. All arguments againt plant sentience are from later, extra canonical, scholastic sources. There is in fact good evidence to suppose that like other contemporary Indians, early Buddhists beleived in the sentience of plants. Certainly Jains did and continue to do so.


If the historical Buddha believed plants to be sentient, his conclusions based on this fact seemed to have been very different from the Jains.
Which is why I originally asked why the Buddha did not include plants as a seventh realm of samsaric existence if they were considered sentient by him...
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:21 pm

xabir wrote:
Malcolm wrote:In response to Xabir, the idea that plants have "spirits" inhabiting them is as silly as the idea we are a mind inhabiting a body.

What happens then when a person gets possesed by evil spirits so that the body gets taken control by another mindstream, or a taoist medium gets possesed by spirit-deities, or a tibetan oracle gets possesed by protectors etc? Can't the same happen for plants?


Yes, but invasion implies force, and in the case of all three examples, you have the invasion of a foreign entity into another entity.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:28 pm

Malcolm wrote:
xabir wrote:
Malcolm wrote:In response to Xabir, the idea that plants have "spirits" inhabiting them is as silly as the idea we are a mind inhabiting a body.

What happens then when a person gets possesed by evil spirits so that the body gets taken control by another mindstream, or a taoist medium gets possesed by spirit-deities, or a tibetan oracle gets possesed by protectors etc? Can't the same happen for plants?


Yes, but invasion implies force, and in the case of all three examples, you have the invasion of a foreign entity into another entity.


At a more fundamental level though, it does seem to imply that spirits can embody a vessel in similar fashion to the way we 'embody' a car and move around in it, the step out when we're done with it. I can imagine a similar principle could be applied to spirits and plants.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:33 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Which is why I originally asked why the Buddha did not include plants as a seventh realm of samsaric existence if they were considered sentient by him...
:namaste:


This is wild speculation, but.... The Buddha obviously distinguished between types of killing. Killing an animal has much less severe karmic consequence than killing an arhat (for example). It's possible that the killing of plants is simply of such karmic insignificance that it's not worth mentioning. Buddhism is after all, but a 'handful of leaves' of what the Buddha knew. And though the Buddha acknowledged karmic consequence to eating meat, he was pragmatic enough to allow eating meat anyway with provisions on the taking of life.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
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As your companion in practice"

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:49 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Which is why I originally asked why the Buddha did not include plants as a seventh realm of samsaric existence if they were considered sentient by him...
:namaste:



Buddha includes "grass and trees" among "birth" i.e. jati.

    Know first the grass and trees:
    Though they lack self-awareness,
    Their birth is their distinctive mark;
    For many are the kinds of birth.
-- Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, pg. 800

Here, Buddha clearly includes plants among the "born". He continues next with moths up to ants, and so on. But if you read this without bias, he says later, on pg. 806:

    Who knows his manifold past lives,
    And sees the heavens and states of woe,
    Who has reached the destruction of birth,
    He is the one I call a bhramin.

Since plants are included among birth here, I see no reason not to understand that they are possible rebirths though lacking self-knowing (na cāpi paṭijānare), also so called formless realm beings lack self-knowing.

M
Last edited by Malcolm on Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:53 pm

Anders wrote:
At a more fundamental level though, it does seem to imply that spirits can embody a vessel in similar fashion to the way we 'embody' a car and move around in it, the step out when we're done with it. I can imagine a similar principle could be applied to spirits and plants.


Yes and minds and bodies, and so the substance dualism of Abhidharma remins in force.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:24 pm

Anders wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote: This is a delusion that the Buddha himself tried to put an end to.


The Buddha did not say anything about it at all. All arguments againt plant sentience are from later, extra canonical, scholastic sources. There is in fact good evidence to suppose that like other contemporary Indians, early Buddhists beleived in the sentience of plants. Certainly Jains did and continue to do so.


If the historical Buddha believed plants to be sentient, his conclusions based on this fact seemed to have been very different from the Jains.


All of your posts are just so nice.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:20 pm

xabir wrote:
Lotus_Bitch wrote:What do you think of the Surangama Sutra? Regardless of when and who composed this work, it is widely regarded as a meditation manual first. Hence it's importance in Mahayana.

The view you are propounding is common among those of eternalistic views, which is why you'll hear of this in tribal communities as well.

In my understanding, malcolm's view is that plants have spirits as "inhabitants". This is not a new theory - the Buddha in the pali canon has acknowledged that spirits can (but maybe not always) "inhabit" or take form in plants and trees, which is why the vinaya rule against harming plant life. Note that of course "spirits" and "inhabitants" are just convention of a self-less mind-matter process.

I do not think malcolm is implying some universal, over-arching, eternalistic consciousness that is rejected in Shurangama. All mindstreams be it pertaining to plants, animals, spirits, etc are empty, impermanent, etc. But idk, he can clarify.


No, actually clearly the problem with this idea is that killing the "grass" or "tree" of a deva does not kill the deva itself. Furthermore, this just pertains to ONE deva world. What about the other five deva worlds in the kamaloka? They have nothing to do with plants? You see, in any sort of canonical way, devas have their own form that is not entirely dependent on plantlife. Again, using devas to permit worship of plantlife is not even necessary, let alone supported. If you don't want to harm plants that's very good, especially trees who need to be preserved. But they're not devas. And if Elementals have any sort of sentience whatsover, their consciousness is completely and utterly owed to a deva or multiple devas. They may be very important to the devas and their world (catumaharajika). Devas' bodies look like people, and some other very strange variations. The point is devas are not inherently plants...

Beyond that, there isn't any canonical or cosmological background that supports an extra world where beings who have plants as their body exist. If they have un-observable sensation, perception, mental formation and consciousness like many other beings, why then is there body observable? They would occupy another world like devas, pretas, and so forth. It's a delusion that is not supported by Buddhist teachings. However if you want to believe something like that, it's perfectly okay--a lot of people believe in things that the Buddha didn't teach including Buddhists. If you're convinced that plants have sentience, there's nothing anyone can say to disprove it. You have to just stick to your practice of morality, wisdom and meditation. Eventually you will be 100% sure that you're right or wrong regarding plant sentience. No one else can convince you, it's something you have to see for yourself, period.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:54 pm

Malcolm wrote:Buddha includes "grass and trees" among "birth" i.e. jati.

    Know first the grass and trees:
    Though they lack self-awareness,
    Their birth is their distinctive mark;
    For many are the kinds of birth.
-- Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, pg. 800

Here, Buddha clearly includes plants among the "born". He continues next with moths up to ants, and so on. But if you read this without bias, he says later, on pg. 806:

    Who knows his manifold past lives,
    And sees the heavens and states of woe,
    Who has reached the destruction of birth,
    He is the one I call a bhramin.

Since plants are included among birth here, I see no reason not to understand that they are possible rebirths though lacking self-knowing (na cāpi paṭijānare), also so called formless realm beings lack self-knowing.
Isn't a lack of self awareness a description of non-sentience? Of course plants are "born" but, like I said before, let us not confound living with sentience.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:27 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Isn't a lack of self awareness a description of non-sentience? Of course plants are "born" but, like I said before, let us not confound living with sentience.
:namaste:


By your definition unconscious gods would then be non-sentient, as would people in comas.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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