Plant Sentient

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:21 am

Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:Chiefly, it is crucial to understand that plants are not self-aware, and therefore are not sentient in the way that humans, animals, or devas are considered sentient.


But, to raise yet another objection, shamanic traditions clearly are at odds with this view.



I am very well integrated into shamanism and study with shamans.
In that experience, I can say that no it is not. As a shamanist I can say that it's not at odds with this view. In fact, according to myself and other shamanists I've interacted with, this completely validates these aspects of shamanism from a Buddhist mentality. Maybe if you explained what's on your mind?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:38 am

Son wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:Chiefly, it is crucial to understand that plants are not self-aware, and therefore are not sentient in the way that humans, animals, or devas are considered sentient.


But, to raise yet another objection, shamanic traditions clearly are at odds with this view.



I am very well integrated into shamanism and study with shamans.
In that experience, I can say that no it is not. As a shamanist I can say that it's not at odds with this view. In fact, according to myself and other shamanists I've interacted with, this completely validates these aspects of shamanism from a Buddhist mentality. Maybe if you explained what's on your mind?


There are a lot of different kinds of shamanism -- but specifically, plants have their own energetic resonance. Since we moderns have a deeply ingrained substance dualism, when we see terms like "plant spirits" we assume this means somehow just like a mind appropriates a body, spirits appropriate a given set of plants -- but in my view as a Dzogchen practitioner, it is not like that. So how is it? Humans are living beings, and our consciousness is an expression of how energy is instantiated in our forms. Plants are living beings, and the way energy is instantiated in their forms is not the same as ours, so too with animals, devas, etc. But this energy, call it rtsal, permeates and gives rise to all displays of life in a samsaric context, and buddhas in a nirvanic context. You can set them out them on a band if you like, for example, as some hindus do, tamasic to sattvic with plant inhabiting the tamasic end of the consciousness scale, and liberated beings at the ultimate sattvic end.

To think like a tree can take centuries -- Garab Dorje says "The color of rtsal is green". Without rtsal there is no growth, no flourishing of anything. Rtsal is the root of consciousness. Tree thoughts are not like human thoughts. For most of us, we are closed off. We cannot perceive how a tree thinks, or a mountain, a planet, a solar system, galaxy or universe.

All universes are supposed to be included inside of the body of the mahāsambhogakāya Vairocana Himasagara. Our world system is supposed to be in a billion world system that is part of another system which is in the palm of his hand. Are we truly sentient in that respect? Or are we just neurons, synapses in a massive cosmos spanning Buddha?

M
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:20 am

:shrug:
No, dead seriously, research by scientists has shown conclusively that plants that are under attack by predetors (i.e. caterpillers eating leaves on a tree or bush) will cause that plant to secrete aromatic compounds into the air because of being attacked by those predetors.
Those aromatic compounds will be detected by any nearby plants...and depending on the plant detecting them...will activate defense mechanisims against attack by those predetors in the detecting plants.
Therefore. and this is scientifically verifiable....a plant under attack broadcasts that information to other mearby plants.
Whether you call this a form of sentient response...or merely an automatic reation to the attack....well, that depends on your point of view, doesn't it?
But, i absolutely assure you, it is a detectable and measurable response and has been demonstrated by plant scientists.
Why should that surprise you? Plants are, after all, living entities...and react to conditions around them.
If as a human being you choose not to define plants as "setient".....well that's your call.
Plants don't care what your opinion is anyhow...they just are what they are...irregardless of you're opinion on them is.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:43 am

Quiet Heart wrote::shrug:
No, dead seriously, research by scientists has shown conclusively that plants that are under attack by predetors (i.e. caterpillers eating leaves on a tree or bush) will cause that plant to secrete aromatic compounds into the air because of being attacked by those predetors.
Those aromatic compounds will be detected by any nearby plants...and depending on the plant detecting them...will activate defense mechanisims against attack by those predetors in the detecting plants.
Therefore. and this is scientifically verifiable....a plant under attack broadcasts that information to other mearby plants.
Whether you call this a form of sentient response...or merely an automatic reation to the attack....well, that depends on your point of view, doesn't it?
But, i absolutely assure you, it is a detectable and measurable response and has been demonstrated by plant scientists.
Why should that surprise you? Plants are, after all, living entities...and react to conditions around them.
If as a human being you choose not to define plants as "setient".....well that's your call.
Plants don't care what your opinion is anyhow...they just are what they are...irregardless of you're opinion on them is.
:smile:



Everything you say is very true. Except, actually plantlife can react to how we feel about them.

Now these phenomena are biological reactions to external stimuli and they are clearly life-like and animate. Indeed, plants are alive and are living animate beings, all plantlife and all flora (fungus and sponges as well). Plantlife behaves in that way because it is alive. The very basic forms of organic material behave in this way and plantlife evolve in the natural way. This really supports my position and that of Fujimoto. Because plantlife behaves that way is the reason I consider, along with many others, to be a sort of sub-sentient life existing on a distant stratum, and I sincerely think that they are projections of sentience.

But let's point out here that although plants respond by releasing aromas and warning other plants around them to defend themselves--do plants choose to release that aroma? Do plants choose to defend themselves? No, they don't express volitional formations. Plants do it no matter what, similarly there is no way to stop your own heart. Biological functions occur regardless of volition. Plants are missing that. They're just raw life evolved into what we as sentient beings need. Plants cannot perceive the insects that are attacking them, and they cannot say, "I willingly sacrifice myself for these bugs." They do because the bugs have the volitional formation for it. They're just like sentient life, but they are raw constructs of it.
Projected sentience, sub-sentience.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:15 am

Son wrote:...and I sincerely think that they are projections of sentience.


The minute you admit that plants are admitted onto scale of sentience, all of your other arguments are just rationals.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby dharmagoat » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:46 am

Son wrote:But let's point out here that although plants respond by releasing aromas and warning other plants around them to defend themselves--do plants choose to release that aroma? Do plants choose to defend themselves? No, they don't express volitional formations. Plants do it no matter what, similarly there is no way to stop your own heart. Biological functions occur regardless of volition. Plants are missing that. They're just raw life evolved into what we as sentient beings need. Plants cannot perceive the insects that are attacking them, and they cannot say, "I willingly sacrifice myself for these bugs." They do because the bugs have the volitional formation for it. They're just like sentient life, but they are raw constructs of it.
Projected sentience, sub-sentience.

Though I wonder to what extent the freedom of choice we appear to have is actually an illusion. We may be more like the plants you describe than we suspect, only that our behaviour is more complex.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:52 am

Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:So, what is your answer to that? Are you on my page or not?


My answer to that if it is alive, it is sentient. So we are not on the same page, since you clearly think plants are not alive, and I think they are.


:=)
NOBODY here has expressed the opinion that plants are not alive.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:43 am

Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:...and I sincerely think that they are projections of sentience.


The minute you admit that plants are admitted onto scale of sentience, all of your other arguments are just rationals.


Well if you pretend that I mean something other than what I said, yes.
But actually they're not rationals. The statement is just conventional. Saying "sentience" is just conventional. You are the one who is rationalizing my arguments, not me. There is not a "scale of sentience," that's coming from you. Something is not more sentient or less sentient, and I didn't say there was a scale. Are you more sentient than a deva, less sentient than an ant? Silliness.

Gregkavarnos, thank you for clarifying that. I think some people just want to express being upset or against Buddhists who refuse to recognize plants as sentient beings, and they are focused on that.



On another note, I had this idea that the subtle body of some devas is involved in plantlife and the like. Little bit of speculation. I'm referring to the space particles of channels, the subtle wind, the heat, the drops, and the sem-ordinary habitual mind. This is the wind that is the vehicle for the subtle mind, which dissolves into space during the dying stage.
This seems to be comfortable canonically, and also practically according to experience with the subtle form, and the subtle elements of that form. Importantly we must remember that they have spontaneous birth, not the three gross types.

I don't know exactly what this relationship would entail, but the subtle-wind-qi is apparently being used by devas. What I'm speculating is that perhaps they don't have a subtle body but rather that explains their magikal existence in a "metaphysical" sense. It is known that only humans or maybe some animals have the normal subtle body. This would sound crazy and unruly to anyone not very attentive to experiencing the subtle elements of the body and having some experience with the deva world. Just food for thought.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Tarpa » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:23 am

I think it's a wonderful way of life to consider plants and trees as sentient, opens a deep dimension to life, some magic.
One can have an affection and empathy for nature equal to that of a pet or even a human i.m.o., and it's a natural feeling and there's no attachment or motive there with it, nobody owns nature.
It provides feelings for lonely people and introverts they find hard to get elsewhere, it provides solace for the grieving, it provides medicines for the sick, etc., all it asks for in return is respect, not much to ask, it may sometimes demand respect.
It's naturally healing, simply taking a walk in nature can do wonders and open up a tremendous sense of space, of course it also supplies so many medicines, I think it communicates, heals, and has tremendous knowledge. Our eyes only see a small spectrum of energy, our ears only hear 20Hz. - 20Khz. ( and are horrible transducers even within that limited range ), we do not ever see the full spectrum of light / energy nor hear the full spectrum of sound, we never see nature for all it is, we never hear sound for all it is etc.
We use invisible energy sources all day everyday yet we little humans have such a hard time relating to the possibility of a reality beyond what we can see and hear etc., funny that.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:37 am

Tarpa wrote:I think it's a wonderful way of life to consider plants and trees as sentient, opens a deep dimension to life, some magic.
One can have an affection and empathy for nature equal to that of a pet or even a human i.m.o., and it's a natural feeling and there's no attachment or motive there with it, nobody owns nature.
It provides feelings for lonely people and introverts they find hard to get elsewhere, it provides solace for the grieving, it provides medicines for the sick, etc., all it asks for in return is respect, not much to ask, it may sometimes demand respect.
It's naturally healing, simply taking a walk in nature can do wonders and open up a tremendous sense of space, of course it also supplies so many medicines, I think it communicates, heals, and has tremendous knowledge. Our eyes only see a small spectrum of energy, our ears only hear 20Hz. - 20Khz. ( and are horrible transducers even within that limited range ), we do not ever see the full spectrum of light / energy nor hear the full spectrum of sound, we never see nature for all it is, we never hear sound for all it is etc.
We use invisible energy sources all day everyday yet we little humans have such a hard time relating to the possibility of a reality beyond what we can see and hear etc., funny that.


Very much so.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Tarpa » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:05 am

In any case when I was homeless and frying balls in Golden Gate Park with my wife on some exceptionally strong acid the flowers in that park were radiating light rays like I've never seen before, recalling that actually helped me in my visualization practice when emitting rays, the plants were certainly alive that day. We stayed in the park about 12 hours and ate every blackberry within a 2 mile radius because we were frying too hard to leave the park and get something to eat but that's another story.
When doing the 4 immeasurables, relative Bodhicitta trip, it helps me tremendously to visualize all of nature around me and all the beings in it, all the animals and bugs, I could never conceive of the myriad numbers of creatures even on my block so to me that was immeasurable but I could relate to that, and all the animals in shelters and being abused and strays and all the dead animals I'd see on the roads, all the creatures flying around or living on or below the earth, I consider animals and bugs as people, so I could develop a real feeling that way instead of working with an empty abstract visualization of space full of immeasurable empty abstract forms.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Anders » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:26 am

Tarpa wrote:I think it's a wonderful way of life to consider plants and trees as sentient, opens a deep dimension to life, some magic.
One can have an affection and empathy for nature equal to that of a pet or even a human i.m.o., and it's a natural feeling and there's no attachment or motive there with it, nobody owns nature.
It provides feelings for lonely people and introverts they find hard to get elsewhere, it provides solace for the grieving, it provides medicines for the sick, etc., all it asks for in return is respect, not much to ask, it may sometimes demand respect.
It's naturally healing, simply taking a walk in nature can do wonders and open up a tremendous sense of space, of course it also supplies so many medicines, I think it communicates, heals, and has tremendous knowledge. Our eyes only see a small spectrum of energy, our ears only hear 20Hz. - 20Khz. ( and are horrible transducers even within that limited range ), we do not ever see the full spectrum of light / energy nor hear the full spectrum of sound, we never see nature for all it is, we never hear sound for all it is etc.
We use invisible energy sources all day everyday yet we little humans have such a hard time relating to the possibility of a reality beyond what we can see and hear etc., funny that.


:good:
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I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Nemo » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:48 am

A plant is more sentient than I am when I am in deep sleep.

Perhaps they are dreaming.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:54 am

Tarpa wrote:In any case when I was homeless and frying balls in Golden Gate Park with my wife on some exceptionally strong acid the flowers in that park were radiating light rays like I've never seen before, recalling that actually helped me in my visualization practice when emitting rays, the plants were certainly alive that day. We stayed in the park about 12 hours and ate every blackberry within a 2 mile radius because we were frying too hard to leave the park and get something to eat but that's another story.
When doing the 4 immeasurables, relative Bodhicitta trip, it helps me tremendously to visualize all of nature around me and all the beings in it, all the animals and bugs, I could never conceive of the myriad numbers of creatures even on my block so to me that was immeasurable but I could relate to that, and all the animals in shelters and being abused and strays and all the dead animals I'd see on the roads, all the creatures flying around or living on or below the earth, I consider animals and bugs as people, so I could develop a real feeling that way instead of working with an empty abstract visualization of space full of immeasurable empty abstract forms.


That's exactly as it should be.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:03 pm

Son wrote:This seems to be comfortable canonically.


In scholastic Buddhism this debate came about because Buddha's teachings were more or less silent on the issue, and there are a couple of passages where the Buddha clearly included plant life as a kind of birth.

This raised a question, and because Jains and Hindus already supported the notion of plant sentience, arch-contrarians that they are, Buddhist scholastics rejected this point of view.

You can for example, rationalize that there are devas that inhabit plants as houses (standard Indo-Tibetan view), but as far as I am concerned this is merely a way of articulating the sentience of plants. It may be the case that plants acheive sentience only in communities, just like our body is not wholly sentient -- to use your example of a branch which can be propagated, also cells from our body may be propagated etc., and we certainly would not necessarily call either sentient in a conventional way.

Likewise, we do not have sentience apart from our embodiment, the community of organisms that make up our body. I think the Buddhist basic view -- the sutrayāna view -- is that we are embodied because we are sentient. Underlying the whole Buddhist rejection of plant sentience is a hard substance dualism.

Dzogchen rejects this substance dualism.

M
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:20 pm

Malcolm wrote: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.
To say that all sentients have form is one thing, to say all forms are sentient is another. Is an asphalt tarmac sentient? Is my desk sentient? The desk lamp? What about the printer? That's a border line case because every time I try to print it seems to have a mind of its own and do whatever it feels like...

Well, it doesn't really work as a theory does it?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:23 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Malcolm wrote: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.
To say that all sentients have form is one thing, to say all forms are sentient is another. Is an asphalt tarmac sentient? Is my desk sentient? The desk lamp? What about the printer? That's a border line case because every time I try to print it seems to have a mind of its own and do whatever it feels like...

Well, it doesn't really work as a theory does it?
:namaste:



...given proper causes and conditions.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:39 pm

Son wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:...and I sincerely think that they are projections of sentience.


The minute you admit that plants are admitted onto scale of sentience, all of your other arguments are just rationals.


Well if you pretend that I mean something other than what I said, yes.


What you said was...

Son wrote:Plants should be considered borderline sentient
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:41 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:This seems to be comfortable canonically.


In scholastic Buddhism this debate came about because Buddha's teachings were more or less silent on the issue, and there are a couple of passages where the Buddha clearly included plant life as a kind of birth.

This raised a question, and because Jains and Hindus already supported the notion of plant sentience, arch-contrarians that they are, Buddhist scholastics rejected this point of view.

You can for example, rationalize that there are devas that inhabit plants as houses (standard Indo-Tibetan view), but as far as I am concerned this is merely a way of articulating the sentience of plants. It may be the case that plants acheive sentience only in communities, just like our body is not wholly sentient -- to use your example of a branch which can be propagated, also cells from our body may be propagated etc., and we certainly would not necessarily call either sentient in a conventional way.

Likewise, we do not have sentience apart from our embodiment, the community of organisms that make up our body. I think the Buddhist basic view -- the sutrayāna view -- is that we are embodied because we are sentient. Underlying the whole Buddhist rejection of plant sentience is a hard substance dualism.

Dzogchen rejects this substance dualism.

M


... I, also, reject this substance dualism... But that doesn't mean I'm going to pretend that there's evidence supporting that when enough plants "get together" a consciousness appears. Again, if it's a deva then it's a deva. And in regards to your reference that the Buddha never said anything clear on the matter--hey, since almost everyone seemed to believe that plants were sentient, if the Buddha agreed he would have been very clear about their sentience. Instead, we hear him say, "they do not have self-awareness."

The fact that he didn't say anything definitive is really evidence against the notion that he thought plants were sentient. Who was he protecting by not admitting plant sentience--the thousands upon thousands who believed in it? How do we know they the reason it's omitted from textual sources is because of early Buddhist groups not wanting to have contradictions in their doctrine. You can't say, "because the Buddha was silent, I'm allowed to take his words out of context."

Why does the Buddha not refute plant sentience? The real question is why he never supported it, why he didn't say "yes you're right, plants are sentient." It's called Occam's Razor. And just because he said plants were "alive" doesn't mean he was calling them sentient. It's common knowledge to anyone that plants are alive, even 3,000 years ago. Everyone on this thread can go on and on in samsaric circles about how the Buddha did or didn't say this or that, but there is no canonical statement, period. I do not understand why people keep trying to play the canon card, it leads nowhere.

You can for example, rationalize that there are devas that inhabit plants as houses (standard Indo-Tibetan view), but as far as I am concerned this is merely a way of articulating the sentience of plants.

... ... ... Rationalize? The Buddha admits to these beings, talks with them, releases them from samsara, on and on in the Buddhist canon. You don't find him saying, "so and so was reborn as a plant due to this, behold bhikkhus, therefore do not harm him." It's not a way or articulating plant sentience, it never was. You're purposefully taking it out of context and interpreting it in your own way, to support your own leaning.

It's okay to have leaning, but do you think it's right for you to contort and misconstrue original doctrine so you can validate your own leaning? How is that not slanderous? Who are you to say, "the Buddha used devas as a rationalization of plant sentience?" Is there any evidence that he was just using devas as a facade to rationalize plant-sentience for others? No... Since the devas are similar to higher devas who don't rely on "groups of plantlife." You say Dzogchen rejects this substance dualism as though you have somehow "changed" the canonical evidence... I don't know what kind of approach that is, but it doesn't seem Buddhistic.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:46 pm

Son wrote: I don't know what kind of approach that is, but it doesn't seem Buddhistic.



I am not a buddhist.
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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."

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