Plant Sentient

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:16 am

Son wrote: I disagree with that view and disagree that what I'm saying indicates Aristotelian view. Maybe if you explained HOW I have Aristotelian view, we could actually decide which is which. But I doubt you will.


Well, read Aristotle, then compare what you have eneunciated with Aristotle's POV about plants being insentient automata.

M
Last edited by Malcolm on Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Virgo » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:19 am

Son wrote:Here you're using the word sentient in many different ways, and not denoting them particularly. That's fine, but it's kind of circumventing around everything I say.

Wood or tree is one of the five elements of Japanese philosophy, not just used "long long ago" but presently by Chinese philosophy. Wood begets fire, fire begets earth (ash), begetting metal, allow water to condense, nourishing again wood (or tree). It doesn't really refer to Buddhist teachings and existed before the Buddha taught the Dharma. However substituting "wood" for wind would only make sense in the context of "Subtle elements." I'm sure we all know what the subtle elements are. It's a nice substitution, but what's it have to do with this topic? Earth, water, and wind aren't sentient beings.

No these are two separate elemental schemes.

The Indian elements and the Chinese elements (both adopted in Tibet) do not refer to or reflect the same things, though some of the same terms are shared.

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:32 am

Son wrote:
Lhug-Pa wrote:
Nemo wrote:Long long ago wasn't plant life considered one of the five elements. The element of wood or greenery.


Ah, that's right! The Mewa aspect of Tibetan Astrology deals with this system of Five Elements, where Wood replaces Wind/Vayu, and incidentally the traditional color of both the Elements Wood and Vayu is Green; the same color that Malcolm cited Garab Dorje as saying the color of rTsal is.


Malcolm wrote:...-- 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?


Here you're using the word sentient in many different ways, and not denoting them particularly. That's fine, but it's kind of circumventing around everything I say.

Wood or tree is one of the five elements of Chinese philosophy, not just used "long long ago" but presently by Chinese philosophy. Wood begets fire, fire begets earth (ash), begetting metal, allow water to condense, nourishing again wood (or tree). It doesn't really refer to Buddhist teachings and existed before the Buddha taught the Dharma. However substituting "wood" for wind would only make sense in the context of "Subtle elements." I'm sure we all know what the subtle elements are. It's a nice substitution, but what's it have to do with this topic? Earth, water, and wind aren't sentient beings.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:33 am

Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote: I disagree with that view and disagree that what I'm saying indicates Aristotelian view. Maybe if you explained HOW I have Aristotelian view, we could actually decide which is which. But I doubt you will.


Well, read Aristotle, then compare what you have eneunciated with Aristotle's POV about plants being insentient automata.

M


Plants aren't in-sentient automata.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:34 am

Son wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote: I disagree with that view and disagree that what I'm saying indicates Aristotelian view. Maybe if you explained HOW I have Aristotelian view, we could actually decide which is which. But I doubt you will.


Well, read Aristotle, then compare what you have eneunciated with Aristotle's POV about plants being insentient automata.

M


Plants aren't in-sentient automata.


I see, so you admit plants are sentient and not automata?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:40 am

Malcolm wrote:
Plants aren't in-sentient automata.


I see, so you admit plants are sentient and not automata?



... ... ... ...

automata:
1. A self-operating machine or mechanism, especially a robot.
2. a person who acts mechanically or leads a routine monotonous life


Plants do lead a routine monotonous life inherently and without fail. The word is even sometimes used to describe people. Plants are also self-operating. So I guess it depends on how you're using the word "atomata..."

sentience:
1. Having sense perception; conscious.
2. Experiencing sensation or feeling.



Well, plants do "sense" external stimuli, and whatever they sense they react to, which is basically experience. It's experience since plants react "positively" to, "negatively" to, and "indifferently" to stimuli, and these are "pleasurable, painful, and indifferent" experiences which bring reactions;
Any plant reacts to the slightest touch. In the case of about 1,000 species, this
reaction is almost instant: carnivorous plants close their trap immediately, the sensitive plants (like Mimosa) retreat their leaves, while nettles break their stinging hairs. In all the other 240,000 species, movements are slower. At the slightest touch, the plant Sparrmannia africana opens up its staminas, making crossed pollination possible.


However, they don't have "sanna," or perceptions. Perceptions designate, memorize, label and are subject to recognition. Plants definitely don't recognize their own designations or labels, and don't use a "memory." The example of perception is: "It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white." Not found in plants.

Volitional formations are also absent inherently in any plant (samskara). "Saṅkhāra-khandha is understood to be that which propels sentient beings along the process of becoming (bhava) by means of actions of body and speech (kamma). "They can be described as aspects of the mind that apprehend the quality of an object, and that have the ability to color the mind." Furthermore, and this is critical here, if a plant did have volitional formations, consciousness would arise from them, and since they cannot be said to have volition where would inherent consciousness emerge from?

And here's a canonical quote:
"What one intends, what one arranges, and what one obsesses about: This is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing [or: an establishing] of consciousness..."


Then we come to consciousness... "And why do you call it 'consciousness'? Because it cognizes, thus it is called consciousness. What does it cognize? It cognizes what is sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, alkaline, non-alkaline, salty, & unsalty. Because it cognizes, it is called consciousness." Plants do no display this, nor do they have a need or purpose for it. Besides, without perception there is nothing for consciousness to land on. Without volitional formation, consciousness does not emerge from the first!

According to the above definition of sentience, for "number one" plants do apply, but for "number two" they don't. So what sort of answer are you looking for?

If you say plants are conscious, well okay... but the consciousness doesn't land in any perceptions, and it isn't generated by volitional formation, so it's just sterile non-aware consciousness, that wraps itself or condensates around whatever "sensations" plants manage to have. So, cut off a plant's life and the "consciousness" wrapped up in the sensations of that plant aren't going to like it... but they won't perceive it, plus as the healing reaction and regrowth are determined only by chemicals, volition isn't even able to be used here. Without being able to "arrange, intend, or obsess about," and not being driven by these formations, consciousness can't actually emerge, plus storehouse consciousness is absent--which is saying the same thing, actually.

However, since the primordial substratum consciousness is all-pervasive, bright, without feature, and luminous all around, well it can be said to exist within that plant or any plant, as well as without it (supposedly designating Buddha-nature). But plants seem to have or represent something like "raw" sensation, that emerges and adapts to its fullest natural capability.

... plants can appreciate the length of the day and the air temperature, adopting a position fitting their neighborhood. A wound, stress or a disease trigger specific defense mechanisms. Information about their state and environment circulates along signals transmitted from one cell to another, from plant to plant, or even from one plant to other beings. Their sensitivity translates via movements, growth directions and metabolism changes.
[/quote] This is all essential to the notion of plant-sentience. While plantlife circulates information along biological signals, it's all arranged genetically or chemically and is automatic. This is absolutely scientifically factual. In the sense of all this, Buddhistically speaking plants therefore seem to embody the raw potential for sentience. They are like sentient beings ready to burst forth from substratum consciousness. They are like eggs, potential, energy. So, without question they are sentient, living beings.

Maybe that answered your question, maybe it didn't. If it didn't, I can rephrase or elaborate on some things if you ask. If not, then you need to ask a different question.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:16 am

Malcolm wrote:There is nothing intrinsically non-Buddhist about the idea of plant sentience. However the scholastic tradition made it clear that it was uncomfortable with the idea precisely for the same reason you are: what about the karma of eating and killing plants? Thus, the resulting judgment that plants are insentient is truly just a utilitarian claim meant to ease the consciousness of Buddhist scholastics. Because it is certain that common people in India continued to regard plants as sentient, and do so up to the present.
Actually the karmic claim was only one of the points I have raised. It was not even the main one. The main one has been "WHY would the Buddha not have included plants as sentients in the schema of his teachings?" You say for purely utilitarian reasons. I can see the validity of your point, but then why, for purely utilitarian reasons, would he not have also excluded animals from the six realms schema given people all over the world kill and eat animals? So the utilitarian argument is rather flimsy.
Since you have a background in biology, Matthew Hall suggests that the problem in adressing plant sentience is a function of entrenched zoocentrism in cognitive modeling which begins with Aristotle. When the question gets brought up, the immediate response is "where is the nervous system, where is the brain, etc." It does not occur to people to ask "If plants are sentient, how might plant neurobiology differ from zoomorphic neurobiology?" In particular, in Hall's book on page 147 he discusses the issues of plant brains.
Any chance of you scanning and attaching the abovementioned page?
The conceptual problem, as I see it, is that in Buddhism we have substituted "consciousness" for a soul, or a living being (jiva). But Buddhism no more moves away from a decentralized notion of sentience that does Aristotle. Truthfully, there really is not much difference between the idea of a transmigrating consciousness as the irreducible fact of a sentient being and a soul (despite the chorus of protests this will raise). A transmigrating consciousness transmigrates precisely because of the delusion of selfhood. We take rebirth because we are deluded about I-ness. The only difference between the early Buddhist anatman and the Hindu atman is what is taken as identity. The Hindus understand all persons and phenomena as lacking identity, but suppose that underneath all these illusory appearances, there is a permanent sat-cit-ananda, whose definition is very much like the Mahāyāna definition of tathagatagarbha i.e. permanent, self, blissful, and pure.
Not really relevant, but anyway...
The issue, as I see it, is that the substance dualism implicit in the way scholastic Buddhists treat namarūpa make a systems theory of consciousness impossible. This is not an issue in Dzogchen (and to a lesser extent, in Vajrayāna), because consciousness itself is a product of systems interactions i.e. the interactions of the five elements in the body and so on.
Now we are moving way off field, but I believe the emphasis is on the individual since systems are merely conglomerations of individual elements. You may have a generally ethical system in place (for example) but an individual acting non-ethically (the Breiviks of this world) can create havoc and chaos and possibly even completely destroy the fabric of networks existing in the system through their personal actions.
What I propose is that the language of plant devas in Buddhist literature is used as a device to ameliorate karmic responsibility for using plants as food. Certainly, in animist traditions where plant spirits are considered, it is not like that. We consult with the spirit of the plant before using it, just as we consult with the spirits of animals we hunt. When we kill a plant, we do not necessarily kill its spirit, just as when we hunt we do not necessarily kill the spirit of the animal we are hunting. This model is still grounded in a naive substance dualism, but it has the benefit of making us recognize that all our actions of eating involve taking life and the life of one living being is not held to be more important than that of another.
The Jains have shown that one can consider plants sentient AND survive in an ethical system that respects their sentience. It is the opposite of where you are taking the argument: animals are sentient, palnts are sentient, we can justify eating plants thus we can justify eating animals. Sounds like a not-so-well structured justification for moral/ethical laziness.
As people may or may not know, I am comitted to the principles of deep ecology/biocentrism, and the denial of plant sentience not in keeping with those principles. If we deny plant sentience, as we do merely on the basis of zoomorphic orthodoxy, we deny the intrinsic value of the great preponderance of biomass on our world and reduce it, in bibical terms, as something merely for our use, biological automata, without sense, without feeling, without intelligence. For many centuries, we regarded animals as mere automata too. Now we understand better. In time, I am certain, we will understand this kind of thinking is a mistake when we consider anything that lives
I too am committed to the principles of ecology (though more from a Green Anarchist perspective) but projecting sentience on plants, rivers, mountains, etc... Is not the solution. People have been aware of the sentience of animals for thousands of years and this has not stopped them systematically exploiting animals throughout history. People have been aware of the sentience of other people since people existed but this has not stopped murder, rape, exploitation, wars, etc... So I (unfotunately) do not believe that assuming the sentience of plants will change the way people relate to them. Not in the near future anyway.

The problem does not lie with theories of sentience, the problem lies with ego-centredness. If one does not overcome this essential problem, no manner of tree hugging theorising will ever change anything. EVER!
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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 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:04 pm

Son wrote:
However, they don't have "sanna," or perceptions.



So you claim.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:10 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Any chance of you scanning and attaching the abovementioned page?


As befits their modular structure and the ability to grow from each of their modules,
unlike animals, plants have no use for a centralized brain and/or nervous
system. Instead of centralized brain tissue, a newly emerging field of plant science,
dubbed “plant neurobiology,” is suggesting that plants may actually have
thousands of brain-like entities that are involved in the emergence of intelligent
behavior. These entities are a type of tissue known as meristems. Current theories
suggest that the meristematic tissue, located at the tips of roots and shoots, combined
with the vascular strands capable of complex molecular and electrical signalling,
may well comprise the plant equivalent of the nervous/neuronal
system.54 In a groundbreaking text Communication in Plants, Baluška et al. echo
the pioneering work of Darwin:

    Each root apex is proposed to harbour brain-like units of the nervous
    system of plants. The number of root apices in the plant body is high,
    and all “brain units” are interconnected via vascular strands (plant neurons)
    with their polarly-transported auxin (plant neurotransmitter), to
    form a serial (parallel) neuronal system of plants.55

Rather than following Darwin’s judgement that this plant nervous system is inferior
to that found in animals, plant neurobiology researchers regard this decentralized
assessment and response system to be the most effective for maximizing
plant fitness.56 Such a system is thought to enable decentralized behavior (i.e.,
growth), which allows plants to thrive in complex and everchanging rhizospheric
environments.
It has been proposed that in the plant the meristematic “brains” may exert
influence on the rest of the plant tissue by the transmission of signalling molecules
such as the hormone auxin. Auxins are manufactured at the root and shoot
apices, and it is thought that their movement is one method for allowing the
transfer of information throughout the individual. It has been proposed that the
end poles (cross walls of cells) are analogous to the synapse in animals.57 At so
called “plant synapses,” vesicular transport of auxin moves this signalling molecule
from cell to cell. Although the exact processes have yet to be uncovered, it
has been proposed that this extracellular transport of auxin “exerts rapid electrical
responses” across the plant synapse and “initiates the electrical responses of
plant cells.”58 Whatever the pathway within the plant, communication can occur
over long-distances, with information on the environmental and developmental
state of the roots being transferred to the shoots—as in the case of stomatal closure
during water stress. As well as auxin and electrical signals, plants produce
and use a variety of neurotransmitter molecules to communicate from cell to
cell. Dopamine, acetylcholine, glutamate, histamine, and glycine are all touted as
potential signalling chemicals between cells.59 Other complex communication
molecules include protein kinases, minerals, lipids, sugars, gases, and nucleic
acids. Trewavas has drawn attention to this complexity and notes that “from the
current rate of progess, it looks as though communication is likely to be as complex
as that within a [animal] brain.”60
In response to some of the assertions of plant neurobiologists, Alpi et al.
have suggested that the existence of plasmodesmata (microscopic channels, which
traverse plant cell walls and enable transport and communication between cells)
contradicts the idea of plant synapses and of auxin as a neurotransmitter, as their
existence facilitates extensive electrical coupling, precluding the need for any
cell-cell transmission of a neurotransmitter-like compound.61 However, this criticism
has been refuted by Brenner et al., who assert that although the exact pathways
are still to be discovered, auxin is known to be transported from cell-cell
and active, communicative plant behavior does take place.62 Along with the
exact mechanisms of electrical cell-cell coupling, they assert that investigating
these transfers represents an exciting field of study for understanding plant signalling
and behavior.
With thousands of meristems, a plant has potentially thousands of “brain
units.” It is proposed by advocates of plant neurobiology that plants integrate
sensory information and make decisions based upon communication between a
multitude of plant tissues such as the root meristems, interior meristems, and the
vascular tissues. Barlow has pointed toward the involvement of the vascular
tissue (xylem and phloem) in conveying APs from zones of special sensitivity to
other regions of the plant—an “informational channel” involved in organismal
organization.63 Trewavas has proposed that the meristematic tissue, which runs
throughout the plant, could be an integrative assessment and computational
tissue, acting with sensory input from local meristems.64 With active debate on
this topic, it is still to be uncovered whether this internal communication systems
are centralized, decentralized, or somewhere in between.65
The structural complexity of these communication networks within plants is
of great interest for an understanding of the intelligent behavior that plants display.
The eminent animal physiologist Denis Noble has recently argued that networkstyle
interactions (like those found in plants), actually organize and direct the
activity of all living beings. In The Music of Life, he disputes the view that a unitary,
external mind or self controls and directs the activity of living organisms.66
Against this Cartesian notion, Noble argues that it is decentralized communicative
networks that heterarchically self-organize and direct living activity.
In Noble’s view of systems biology, “there is no single controller.” no single
Cartesian mind substance, which is the director of living systems.67 Instead,
from a systems viewpoint, mental properties such as intelligence, reasoning, and
choice are thought to emerge from the interactions of physiological networks of
signalling and communication. As Evan Thompson puts it, the “emergent
process is one that results from collective self-organisation.”68 These principles of
heterarchical organization and the emergence of higher level properties are fundamental
principles of systems biology, which are elegantly summed up by
Fritjof Capra:
    According to the systems view, the essential properties of an organism,
    or living system, are properties of the whole, which none of the parts
    have. They arise from the interactions and relationships between the
    parts. These properties are destroyed when the system is dissected,
    either physically or theoretically, into isolated elements.69
Although the exact pathways are still being investigated, we can state that from a
systems perspective, the interconnecting, heterarchical network of plant tissues
(including meristems) enables intelligent plant behavior, rather than the Cartesian
consciousness or free will alluded to by Struik et al.70
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Virgo » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:00 pm

Thank you.

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:28 pm

Thank you!
: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 Son » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:41 pm

Yes, well plants have intelligence. That's not new news--in fact, it is very, very old. And to the concentrated scientific observer, plant intelligence is obvious. Why do you think we call plants "living beings?"



Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:
However, they don't have "sanna," or perceptions.



So you claim.


... Are you going to refute that claim, or present arguments against it? Discussion?

In order for a plant to have consciousness "of its own, storehouse consciousness," volitions or mental formation must give rise to that. They don't intend and obsess over objects, they don't "form volition" in the mind, there is no coloring of the mind derived from sensations. They do not apprehend the quality of sense-objects, and color their own mind in that way. They simply react to it naturally, there is no coloring or intention and obsessions over the objects, it's an impersonal experience. So, personal sentient consciousness can't arise here, dependent on mental formations.

In what way do you think plants have perception, as described canonically in my post? Blue, yellow, hot, cold, smooth, sharp, rough, etc. Do you think that the perceptions take place being expressed through this theoretical plant-brain network? How does a plant designate, or label what is yellow or green, what is smooth or hard, how does it mark an experience and retain recognition of that experience? I'm not saying I "know" they don't perceive, but, there's no evidence for perception, need for it, and the scientific observations actually oppose perception. What's more, the canonical resources never insinuate a need for perceptual, karmic, plant sentience.


Against Perception:
Trees experience strong wind or weak wind, but what in the tree designates, "this is strong and this is weak?" It does not make a mark, "these are the designations of wind that I have experienced." It responds to the wind chemically over and over. The rosemary bush, when having a leaf plucked, does not designate that sense in any way, "the leaf was plucked," and mark it for later recognition, so that when another leaf is cut, it refers to that same mark of designation. One leaf is cut, then another leaf is cut, and another and another and so forth, but the plant just reacts according to the experience and doesn't empirically memorize the suggestion of losing leaves. It doesn't need to, because the leaves are lost in Fall, and leaves regrow in Spring. It just happens, inherently. Therefore there is no volition, which means there is no pretense of volition, no karma, and therefore cannot be previous life nor rebirth, and no stream of karmic consciousness, reproductive consciousness.

Against Mental Formation:
Lacking mental formation, in which consciousness has its discrete origin, plants do not have consciousness of their own stratum. That being said, because there is apparently a sense of touching (traditionally the pervasive sense base), they seem to adopt a derived consciousness of their own, but it is not a continuum consciousness based on storehouse consciousness, rather a derived one that condensates on their sense-faculty, on their "feeling." This condensation of consciousness, in terms of sentience or substratum consciousness, is hence projective. The consciousness is holographically instilled into the plantlife.

Against Obscuring Consciousness and Storehouse Consciousness:
These living beings are thus "primitive sentient," or, "proto-sentient, sub-sentient." There is substratum consciousness, but it lacks the obscuring consciousness and there is no karmic tainting that displays storehouse consciousnesses. In other words, they have empty storehouse consciousness, and the only reason they're able to be sentient living beings at all, is because the primordial substratum consciousness provides contact between "sense base" and "sense object." So they lake perceiving and mental formation, and there's no presence of continual consciousness, only "projected."

The Buddha did say that consciousness arises in mental formation (thus storehouse consciousness, derived from prim.sub.conscious.), but it's perfectly sensible to regard substratum consciousness as functioning without mental formation, without storehouse consciousness. In fact, that's how the Dharmakaya and Sambhogakayas (hence nirmanakayas) function in the Mahayanist views. So you can't exist karmically as a plant, and neither them as other beings--which is why they're not described in the cosmological system. But by all means, the Buddhas can. To me, this also provides some illumination to the nature of wildlife devas...
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:12 am

Son wrote:Yes, well plants have intelligence. That's not new news--in fact, it is very, very old. And to the concentrated scientific observer, plant intelligence is obvious. Why do you think we call plants "living beings?"



Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:
However, they don't have "sanna," or perceptions.



So you claim.


... Are you going to refute that claim, or present arguments against it? Discussion?

In order for a plant to have consciousness "of its own, storehouse consciousness," volitions or mental formation must give rise to that. They don't intend and obsess over objects, they don't "form volition" in the mind, there is no coloring of the mind derived from sensations. They do not apprehend the quality of sense-objects, and color their own mind in that way. They simply react to it naturally, there is no coloring or intention and obsessions over the objects, it's an impersonal experience. So, personal sentient consciousness can't arise here, dependent on mental formations.


You have not presented any arguments at all, all you have presented is the same bald unsupported assertions.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:20 am

Son wrote:
In what way do you think plants have perception, as described canonically in my post? Blue, yellow, hot, cold, smooth, sharp, rough, etc. Do you think that the perceptions take place being expressed through this theoretical plant-brain network? How does a plant designate, or label what is yellow or green, what is smooth or hard, how does it mark an experience and retain recognition of that experience? I'm not saying I "know" they don't perceive, but, there's no evidence for perception, need for it, and the scientific observations actually oppose perception. What's more, the canonical resources never insinuate a need for perceptual, karmic, plant sentience.



Mt. Meru is "canonical".

Your science is outdated.

The qualia of plants, like that of bats, is closed to us.



Against Perception:
Trees experience strong wind or weak wind, but what in the tree designates, "this is strong and this is weak?" It does not make a mark, "these are the designations of wind that I have experienced." It responds to the wind chemically over and over. The rosemary bush, when having a leaf plucked, does not designate that sense in any way, "the leaf was plucked," and mark it for later recognition, so that when another leaf is cut, it refers to that same mark of designation. One leaf is cut, then another leaf is cut, and another and another and so forth, but the plant just reacts according to the experience and doesn't empirically memorize the suggestion of losing leaves. It doesn't need to, because the leaves are lost in Fall, and leaves regrow in Spring. It just happens, inherently. Therefore there is no volition, which means there is no pretense of volition, no karma, and therefore cannot be previous life nor rebirth, and no stream of karmic consciousness, reproductive consciousness.


So you assert and cannot prove.


Against Mental Formation:
Lacking mental formation, in which consciousness has its discrete origin, plants do not have consciousness of their own stratum.


So you assert but cannot prove.

Against Obscuring Consciousness and Storehouse Consciousness:
These living beings are thus "primitive sentient," or, "proto-sentient, sub-sentient." There is substratum consciousness, but it lacks the obscuring consciousness and there is no karmic tainting that displays storehouse consciousnesses. In other words, they have empty storehouse consciousness, and the only reason they're able to be sentient living beings at all, is because the primordial substratum consciousness provides contact between "sense base" and "sense object." So they lake perceiving and mental formation, and there's no presence of continual consciousness, only "projected."


Now you are contradicting yourself and yogacara thoery. The ālavijñāna exists only so as long as the bijas exist. When they are eradicated, the ālavijñāna vanishes.



The Buddha did say that consciousness arises in mental formation (thus storehouse consciousness, derived from prim.sub.conscious.),


Your complicated yogacara arguments are quite irrelevant to the question, AFAIC. You are in essence saying plants are projections. Ok. Yogacara is unconvincing. I don't buy it.

but it's perfectly sensible to regard substratum consciousness as functioning without mental formation, without storehouse consciousness. In fact, that's how the Dharmakaya and Sambhogakayas (hence nirmanakayas) function in the Mahayanist views. So you can't exist karmically as a plant, and neither them as other beings--which is why they're not described in the cosmological system. But by all means, the Buddhas can. To me, this also provides some illumination to the nature of wildlife devas...


I see, so you accept that plants are awakened.

M
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:15 am

Malcolm wrote:
Mt. Meru is "canonical".

Your science is outdated.

The qualia of plants, like that of bats, is closed to us.


Why yes, yes it is. Thank you for pointing that out.
Listen, I'm basing my view on Buddhism, and you clearly aren't. I'm going to establish this right now. Science doesn't support plants are sentient or not. Science does not know. And anyway, science doesn't define sentient in the way that Buddhism does.


Against Perception:
Trees experience strong wind or weak wind, but what in the tree designates, "this is strong and this is weak?" It does not make a mark, "these are the designations of wind that I have experienced." It responds to the wind chemically over and over. The rosemary bush, when having a leaf plucked, does not designate that sense in any way, "the leaf was plucked," and mark it for later recognition, so that when another leaf is cut, it refers to that same mark of designation. One leaf is cut, then another leaf is cut, and another and another and so forth, but the plant just reacts according to the experience and doesn't empirically memorize the suggestion of losing leaves. It doesn't need to, because the leaves are lost in Fall, and leaves regrow in Spring. It just happens, inherently. Therefore there is no volition, which means there is no pretense of volition, no karma, and therefore cannot be previous life nor rebirth, and no stream of karmic consciousness, reproductive consciousness.


So you assert and cannot prove.

You haven't proven anything against these statements. Proof is not the issue here.


Against Mental Formation:
Lacking mental formation, in which consciousness has its discrete origin, plants do not have consciousness of their own stratum.


So you assert but cannot prove.

This isn't an argument, and you aren't disproving my idea. If you're already bent on resisting Buddhist concepts, well I'm sorry there's nothing I can do for you.

Against Obscuring Consciousness and Storehouse Consciousness:
These living beings are thus "primitive sentient," or, "proto-sentient, sub-sentient." There is substratum consciousness, but it lacks the obscuring consciousness and there is no karmic tainting that displays storehouse consciousnesses. In other words, they have empty storehouse consciousness, and the only reason they're able to be sentient living beings at all, is because the primordial substratum consciousness provides contact between "sense base" and "sense object." So they lake perceiving and mental formation, and there's no presence of continual consciousness, only "projected."


Now you are contradicting yourself and yogacara thoery. The ālavijñāna exists only so as long as the bijas exist. When they are eradicated, the ālavijñāna vanishes.

Fortunately I am not contradicting myself. I said that plants do not have storehouse consciousness, because they don't have karmic seeds. When I used the phrase "empty storehouse" it was to make a point. Obviously.


The Buddha did say that consciousness arises in mental formation (thus storehouse consciousness, derived from prim.sub.conscious.),


Your complicated yogacara arguments are quite irrelevant to the question, AFAIC. You are in essence saying plants are projections. Ok. Yogacara is unconvincing. I don't buy it.

You don't even have the fundamental Buddhist views that are required for my view to land on... That's not a flaw in my argument, you're just not a follower of Dharma. It doesn't matter if you buy it, it matters if it is Buddhistically acceptable in terms of canonical texts. That is what matters. And my "yogacara" arguments are not irrelevent. I am defining the sentience of plants--that's the TOPIC.

but it's perfectly sensible to regard substratum consciousness as functioning without mental formation, without storehouse consciousness. In fact, that's how the Dharmakaya and Sambhogakayas (hence nirmanakayas) function in the Mahayanist views. So you can't exist karmically as a plant, and neither them as other beings--which is why they're not described in the cosmological system. But by all means, the Buddhas can. To me, this also provides some illumination to the nature of wildlife devas...


I see, so you accept that plants are awakened.


Awakened? No, I think they are inherently projections of awakening or primordial substratum consciousness. For something to reach nirvana, it's storehouse consciousness must be purified and ignorance unrooted from their mind, union with extremely subtle body and so forth. However plants don't have storehouse consciousness and taints to begin with, naturally. It is primordial consciousness taking the form of plants due to sense-sense object, creating contact. This contact consciousness is not awakened. It is likened to a projection or hologram, touch-sense that has contact through substratum consciousness. They don't have the opportunity to be awakened, the possibility of it, for Buddha Nature in them is default. So the question, "do plants have Buddha Nature," in order to achieve awakening one must destroy the fetters and cleanse the taints, but plants cannot do this and therefore lack the potential for awakening.

On the other hand, they are already experiencing Buddha Nature. What it boils down to is, although awakening is within the reach of all living beings including plants, plants do not need to reach awakening, due to the absence of storehouse consciousness. Secondly, plants don't have the ability to realize that they have Buddha Nature, so they can't achieve awakening. When the touch-sense-consciousness ends, it ends. When it begins, it begins. The substratum consciousness is present in any scenario, but an "individual plant" cannot achieve awakening, it is simply projected from it by means of contact. So they are projections of Buddha Nature.

The bush doesn't have a storehouse consciousness that can be purified, it is derived from primordial consciousness as it is. No, plants are not awakened. Plants have primitive sentience. They are born without taints, and die without taints. there's no delusion of self, or doubt, there are no fetters, there is no original ignorance that gives rise to mental formation. Essentially, to say that we have Buddha Nature, is to say that plants represent primordial consciousness, a suspended kind of Buddha Nature.

Put simply, they have primordial consciousness but without Buddha Nature, because they can't have Buddha Nature. There are infinite ways to say this.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:19 am

*EDITED*

To be conclusively simple, I would say:

"1.) Plants are sentient in one sense (they're living, they have sense and consciousness). In the other sense, they are not sentient (transmigration, storehouse consciousness)."

"2.) Plants have primordial consciousness. Plants embody Buddha Nature, as indicative of sentience."

I think the reason why most early Buddhists couldn't accept plant "sentience..." is because they didn't recognize the 7th and 8th consciousness, and for similar reasons. Also, saying that plants don't have Buddha Nature can be tricky...
Last edited by Son on Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:31 am

Son wrote:Listen, I'm basing my view on Buddhism, and you clearly aren't.


As far as this question goes, I think the scholastic buddhist perspective is outdated and wrong.

M
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
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Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:48 am

Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:Listen, I'm basing my view on Buddhism, and you clearly aren't.


As far as this question goes, I think the scholastic buddhist perspective is outdated and wrong.

M


I do not.

And this concludes are personal conversation on plant sentience. Since there is no possible way for us to meet on common ground, given this distinction. But really I enjoyed what you had to say, mostly. Thanks.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Jesse » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:12 pm

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:36 pm

ghost01 wrote:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-plants-think-daniel-chamovitz


... When we smell something, we sense a volatile chemical that’s dissolved in the air, and then react in someway to this smell. The clearest example in plants is what happens during fruit ripening. You may have heard that if you put a ripe and an unripe fruit together in the same bag, the unripe one will ripen faster. This happens because the ripe one releases a ripening pheromone into the air, and the green fruit smells it and then starts ripening itself. This happens not only in our kitchens, but also, or even primarily, in nature. When one fruit starts to ripen, it releases this hormone which is called ethylene, which is sensed by neighboring fruits, until entire trees and groves ripen more or less in synchrony.


That is not a "sense of smell." Not at all. Normal bodily organs react and change due to hormones, this doesn't mean they have a sense of smell. This scientist is breaking down terms so he can semantically use them in his own way. For example, "do plants think? What does "think" mean in this sentence? Similarly, there are a dozen ways to use the word "sentient," not every definition applies to the same things. It's important not to rely on words but to think from experience and practice.
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