Plant Sentient

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:48 pm

Son wrote: Instead, we hear him say, "they do not have self-awareness."



Yes, this simply means they are not aware of the themselves; likewise, unconscious gods and so called formless realm gods have no self-awareness.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:
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.


The only proper cause and condition you've given is, "maybe, when enough plants grow close enough to each other, they become sentient."

What sort of condition is that? If I put a thousand gulf-balls in a barrel, do they become sentient? If I fill a billion-foot-cubic tank with single-celled organisms, do they inherit a consciousness? What you seem to be doing is rejecting the idea that a plant is not sentient as much as possible without falling into eternalism. Of course matter is imbued with intelligence, and sentient beings can form in this matter (hey, look at us), but what does that suggest about plants? It's already established that there's no canonical source for plant sentience, so from what are you building this idea? That is something I am interested in and is the reason I'm in this discussion.

I think this is an important topic and shouldn't be taken lightly. My view.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:53 pm

I find the tone of some posts in the thread astonishing, frankly speaking.

Malcolm suggested an idea which he considers consistent with the Dzogchen outlook. He's never tried to persuade anyone to share his lurid heresy, he's never argued that what he's putting forward here is the only possible correct exegesis of Gautama's words, he's never actually expressed his views in an explicit form - and yet the mood of the thread quite often seems to resemble that of an inquisition hearing.

I mean, why do some people get so defensive? Is suggesting the idea that plants may be sentient tantamount to destroying the foundations of Buddhadharma? Is Malcolm sabotaging the cornerstone of the Eightfold Path? :shrug:
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:56 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote: Instead, we hear him say, "they do not have self-awareness."



Yes, this simply means they are not aware of the themselves; likewise, unconscious gods and so called formless realm gods have no self-awareness.


That is not true. And that is not written.

That sort of birth results in a "form body," not a kama plant body.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:58 pm

Son wrote:Who are you to say, "the Buddha used devas as a rationalization of plant sentience?"


Who are you to say he wasn't?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:01 pm

Son wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote: Instead, we hear him say, "they do not have self-awareness."



Yes, this simply means they are not aware of the themselves; likewise, unconscious gods and so called formless realm gods have no self-awareness.


That is not true. And that is not written.



It most certainly is true --according the Abhidharmakosha (something I am a little expert in) formless realm beings for example have only one thought and have no awareness outside of that thought, i.e. the thought that propels them into that ayatana. Why? Because they have no physical sense faculties. Hence they have no self-reflexive cognition of any kind. But, like plants, they are a birth, albeit, one without self-knowledge.

M
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:07 pm

Son wrote: so from what are you building this idea? That is something I am interested in and is the reason I'm in this discussion.


Oh, from a statement by Padmasambhva in a Dzogchen teaching that the distinction between sentient and non-sentient appears, but should not be beleived, and that when enters into full awakening, the distinction between sentient and non-sentient being false, vanishes.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:Oh, from a statement by Padmasambhava in a Dzogchen teaching that the distinction between sentient and non-sentient appears, but should not be beleived, and that when enters into full awakening, the distinction between sentient and non-sentient being false, vanishes.
It doesn't vanish by calling plants sentient, it just takes plants from within the category of non-sentient and puts them into the category of sentient. Making the distinction between sentient and non-sentient vanish is also not achieved by saying that everything is sentient. No more than saying everything is eternal makes the distinction between eternal and impermanent vanish.

Buddhism is about not falling into extremes, and even though you may no longer identify as a Buddhist, you have to take into account that you are posting in the general Dharma section of a Buddhist forum AND you have to take into account that Padmasambhava was a Buddhist.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:43 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Oh, from a statement by Padmasambhava in a Dzogchen teaching that the distinction between sentient and non-sentient appears, but should not be beleived, and that when enters into full awakening, the distinction between sentient and non-sentient being false, vanishes.
It doesn't vanish by calling plants sentient, it just takes plants from within the category of non-sentient and puts them into the category of sentient. Making the distinction between sentient and non-sentient vanish is also not achieved by saying that everything is sentient. No more than saying everything is eternal makes the distinction between eternal and impermanent vanish.



Padmasamabhava is saying that ignorance is maintaining that there is a meaningful distinction between the so called sentient and non-sentient. Plants, rocks, trees, and galaxies all have the same primordial state as humans, and other so called beings in the six lokas.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:14 pm

Ultimately all distinctions/dualisms are meaningless, but as unenlightened humans we also (mainly) operate at the relative level. At the relative level it is practical and meaningful to make the distiction between sentient and non-sentient in order to avoid accumulating negative karmic outcomes through non-ethical behaviour. It would be great of we were all mad mahasiddhas: fornicating, drinking, killing; all without karmic outcomes. But we are not. Calling plants sentient just adds another layer of grief to human behaviour, since now it becomes ethically ambivalent whether it is okay to "kill" plants. It becomes a source of mental grief and doubt. In order to maintain ethical conduct we would have to adopt the behaviour of Jains.

Sure, maybe it would cause people to respect plant life more, to alter their view of nature and life in general. But I doubt it. I mean ecologists have been trying for decades to convince people of the "Gaian" nature of this planet. :shrug:
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:21 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:even though you may no longer identify as a Buddhist, you have to take into account that you are posting in the general Dharma section of a Buddhist forum


Here we go again. But, my problem with the 'heresy watch' attitude aside, the idea that plants are sentient has been endorsed by some Buddhist orthodoxies: open up thy Dogen. Also, have a look here:

http://theendlessfurther.com/?p=9096

and here:

http://books.google.pl/books?id=UKb2orc ... ts&f=false

and here:

http://kr.buddhism.org/zen/koan/Robert_Sharf-e.htm

I used to have a wonderful little book on Tathagathagarbha whose author neatly summarised the issue of plant sentience in Sino-Japanese Buddhism, but can't remember the title or the author. Oh well.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:21 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:UCalling plants sentient just adds another layer of grief to human behaviour, since now it becomes ethically ambivalent whether it is okay to "kill" plants. It becomes a source of mental grief and doubt. In order to maintain ethical conduct we would have to adopt the behaviour of Jains.


Harming plants and killing animals (requiring only simple confession) are considered the same class of infractions in monastic vows, so this is an exaggeration.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:28 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:But, my problem with the 'heresy watch' attitude aside...
"Heresy watch"? This is a Buddhist forum, any person that expresses apparently non-Buddhist views are expected to support them with Buddhist sources. We could just turn this into a New Age forum and let everybody say anything they want, about anything they want, and back it up with whatever. I personally come here to share my knowledge of, discuss/debate and be informed about Buddhism. I think you are too?

Thanks for the links!
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:28 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:you have to take into account that you are posting in the general Dharma section of a Buddhist forum
:namaste:



This is the free for all section greg.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:29 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote: ...support them with Buddhist sources.


I did that. I also made it clear that I don't agree with the later Buddhist scholastics and why.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:31 pm

Malcolm wrote:Harming plants and killing animals (requiring only simple confession) are considered the same class of infractions in monastic vows, so this is an exaggeration.
I was unaware of this. Thank you for that information. In light of this my statement is a slight exaggeration. Personally though (and as a non-monastic and a former hunter and currently in the process of tending my olive groves) I think that there is a world of difference between pruning an olive tree and cutting the leg off a living cow.
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One will not attain the real result
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:I did that. I also made it clear that I don't agree with the later Buddhist scholastics and why.
I was talking in general. I have no problem with your method in this thread. Just making the point that on a Buddhist forum people will expect Buddhist sources to support any points being made. It should come as no surprise. ;)
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:37 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:But, my problem with the 'heresy watch' attitude aside...
"Heresy watch"? This is a Buddhist forum, any person that expresses apparently non-Buddhist views are expected to support them with Buddhist sources. We could just turn this into a New Age forum and let everybody say anything they want, about anything they want, and back it up with whatever. I personally come here to share my knowledge of, discuss/debate and be informed about Buddhism. I think you are too?


The problem is where you draw the boundaries of that strange 'Buddhism' thing. I'm afraid that if you wanted to find a set of features that are defining for 'Buddhism' or 'Buddhadharma' (in all its forms) and 'Buddhism' or 'Buddhadharma' alone, you would

1. find nothing.
2. find a set of features so nebulous and general as to be nearly useless

Which is why most people do neither, choosing instead to set up an 'orthodoxy' which enables them to differentiate between the 'true' Buddhism and the (increasingly numerous - the more you look, the more of them tend to turn up) fakes: hence Gelugpas' repudiation of Dzogchen and Jonangpa and shengtongpa as abhorrent 'heresies', hence the perennial problem with Bon, etc.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Norwegian » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:43 pm

Malcolm have cited Dzogchen sources for this though.

For example, plants and trees having tsal and pranavayu, etc. = Dzogchen.

So this should be good enough. Unless you somehow don't consider Dzogchen (and Dzogchen teachers like Garab Dorje, Padmasambhava, etc.) valid.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:03 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:The problem is where you draw the boundaries of that strange 'Buddhism' thing. I'm afraid that if you wanted to find a set of features that are defining for 'Buddhism' or 'Buddhadharma' (in all its forms) and 'Buddhism' or 'Buddhadharma' alone, you would

1. find nothing.
2. find a set of features so nebulous and general as to be nearly useless.
If it satisfies the Three Marks or the Four Dharma Seals and avoids the four extremes then (for me) it is Buddhadharma.
:namaste:
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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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