Plant Sentient

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:36 am

Son, I understand that Plant Elementals are not Devas, even if some people might worship them as such. As was discussed in the first page of this thread, we might could say that Plant Elementals are somewhere between Animals and Pretas. Now I have read that each group of Elementals is governed by a ruling Deva (and perhaps it is actually these said governing Devas that some people 'worship').
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Dexing » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:01 am

So, the Buddha was supposed to have been able to see his past lives and those of others. You'd think if it were possible to be born as a plant it would have come up in an "At one time" story of his or at least included in the possible planes of existence as he taught them.

What would happen if at some point plants were proven to in fact be sentient? Sure, the Buddha never said plants aren't sentient :quoteunquote: but he talked about unseen things like asuras, pretas, etc.. What would that new information make of the Buddhist ideology?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:26 am

Dexing, I don't know if you read the first couple pages of this thread, but that was also discussed here/there.


Anyhow the following part of my post...:


Lhug-Pa wrote:One possible way of looking at the Five Skandhas:


Rupa - Annamaya Kosha - Sthula Sarira - Physical - Prithvi - Earth

Vedana - Pranamaya Kosha - Linga Sarira - Etheric/Vital - Jal or Apas - Water

Samjna - Manomaya Kosha - Kama Rupa - Astral - Agni or Tejas - Fire

Samskara - Vijnanamaya Kosha - Manas - Mental - Vayu - Wind

Vijnana - Anandamaya Kosha - Karana Sharira - Causal - Akash or Akasha - Space


...was partly inspired by one of Malcolm's posts in the thread titled Dzogchen and Buddhism:


Malcolm wrote:Shankaracarya writes:

In its identification with the five-sheaths the Immaculate Atman appears to have borrowed their qualities upon Itself; as in the case of a crystal which appears to gather unto itself colour of its vicinity (blue cloth, etc.,).


This is exactly how the gdangs of original purity is described when discussing essence.

Again, I am not saying Advaita realization and buddhahood are the same. But I think that in general Tibetan Lamas are terribly ignorant of the subtleties and profundity of non-Buddhist systems such as Advaita, Trika, Samkhya and so on. They generally only read about them to refute them, and badly at that.


For anyone not familiar with Dzogchen terminology, Original Purity is Kadak or Kadag, Essence is Ngo bo or Ngowo; and gDangs is related to Thugs rJe, Rolpa, and rTsal.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:36 am

This all comes from delusion of SELF. Plant does not have a self, human does not have a self. But consciousness experiences the human condition, consciousness does not experience a plant condition. People look at a plant and they imagine that there is a self to it, and that it is ultimately identical to their self. There is no self to the plant, it is your own mind that is playing tricks on you.

If a plant is sentient, when is its consciousness born? When does it pass away? How does the plant "sense" or "feel" (in Buddhism, feeling is a requisite of sentience--sorry)? What are the perceptions of a plant? What are the intentional formations of a plant like, how does it even get those formations?

A plant touches water, it absorbs water, all plants behave in this way and chemically they grow in response. Is a dried sponge sentient because it absorbs water and expands? Sometimes a tree will sprout other trunks with identical DNA, sometimes spawning entire forests of connected trees, all reacting in a passive and non-intentional way. Even if you were to say that a plant is sentient, it cannot experience its own world and if you cut off its life, what happens? A chemical reaction ensues, not a conscious one. It is similar to removing the leg from a table, the table falls every time. It does not intend to fall or not fall, it does so inanimately. Similarly, plants respond inanimately, simply by stimuli.

Plants are organisms just like those found in the human body. When something happens to a system in the body, chemical reactions take place and the body reacts accordingly regardless of "intentional formations" or "perception" in the being. Consciousness is aware of this functions, because it is experiencing them, because of birth due to karma. The reason consciousness doesn't normally experience being a plant is because it can't experience without feelings and perceptions.

Consciousness can't become a plant because karma doesn't lead to non-karmic existence, that would be the cessation of karma and thus the being would be released from existence, and therefore could not be a sentient plant. By that logic, if a plant is sentient and thus released from existence, therefore it is not a living being and cannot experience suffering as a plant. The same applies to rocks, tables, cups, or any inanimate objects. Again, in a plant where does the consciousness begin? There is a seed which contains chemicals and nutrients required for growth and sustenance, which cannot grow without soil and water. Fire starts with wood, it needs air and dryness, and an igniting force (for a plant, fertilization of the seed). Then the seed grows, as a fire grows. There needs to be an understanding of karma and consciousness in relation to sentient beings. To call a plant sentient is okay, but where a plant differs from the requirements of a being with consciousness, perceptions, volitional formations, and sensations, united in a living way, this needs to be accepted. The problem with calling plants "living beings" Buddhistically is that it leads to delusions and misunderstandings of the Dharma. That is why it is wrong view. By definition, if it didn't affect at all to enlightenment whether or not plants were sentient, it wouldn't matter.

Plants need to exist because in OUR world, there has to be organic life in order for us to exist. Karma leads to this existence, and since there is the possibility of plantlife, we as sentient beings realize that possibility because our karma leads us to rely on plantlife. In modern society, ideas of plant sentience are the results of preconceived notions based on assumptions about cells and scientific discoveries. Plants don't need to be sentient, they have no karma--no intentional action. It is natural for us to identify ourselves with plants because of how we see them, that it because of our own karma, our own existence in this world, and our inherent reliance on plantlife. In biology we see that all life has common origin and is interdependent. This is in no way whatsoever against ancient Buddhist teachings. Of course we share common origin, how could our human world possibly exist for us--the beings who have the karma for it--if there were no plants? The karma that led us to human lives relies on plants, and when plants come to be it is because beings are being born into worlds where plants are a biological phenomena derived from the processes of Biological Law (Bija Niyama), one of the five sets of law, which describe the consistency of reality. The others are Seasonal Law, Karmic Law, Natural or Dharmic Law, and Psychological Law.

The mind-matter reality exists dynamically according to these five orders. What sentient being has no perception and no karma, has no feeling? How can a being without karma "experience" the life of a plant? This all comes from delusion of SELF. Plant does not have a self, human does not have a self. But consciousness experiences the human condition, consciousness does not experience a plant condition. People look at a plant and they imagine that there is a self to it, and that it is ultimately identical to their self. There is no self to the plant, it is your own mind that is playing tricks on you.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:56 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:Son, I understand that Plant Elementals are not Devas, even if some people might worship them as such. As was discussed in the first page of this thread, we might could say that Plant Elementals are somewhere between Animals and Pretas. Now I have read that each group of Elementals is governed by a ruling Deva (and perhaps it is actually these said governing Devas that some people 'worship').


This is very close to being literally true. But when you say, "I have read that each group of Elementals," what are you referring to? And what do you mean by groups of Elementals? I have to say also thank you for being really discursive, instead of what some others do which is just repeat their own opinion.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:09 am

Not to disregard the rest of your post(s) Son (I'd like to address more later), however perhaps the Western doctrine of Monads applies here. A Monad isn't necessarily a "self" per-sé (some have also asserted that Atma has no ego) from what I understand, so Monad could be the Western equivalent of Buddha Nature. Plants would therefore be the physical/vital bodies (related to Rupa and Vedana) of 'transmigrating Monads' whose other Skandhas (Samjna, Samskara, Vijnana) are not necessarily expressed in the physical dimension like human's can be. Meaning that plants could have five Skandhas of which the expression of only two or three are physically observable.

*Edit*

I might have to explain more later, but I'm not implying anything like permanent transmigrating aggregates here (because in being permanent they would not be aggregates then would they).
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Son » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:04 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:Not to disregard the rest of your post(s) Son (I'd like to address more later), however perhaps the Western doctrine of Monads applies here. A Monad isn't necessarily a "self" per-sé (some have also asserted that Atma has no ego) from what I understand, so Monad could be the Western equivalent of Buddha Nature. Plants would therefore be the physical/vital bodies (related to Rupa and Vedana) of 'transmigrating Monads' whose other Skandhas (Samjna, Samskara, Vijnana) are not necessarily expressed in the physical dimension like human's can be. Meaning that plants could have five Skandhas of which the expression of only two or three are physically observable.

*Edit*

I might have to explain more later, but I'm not implying anything like permanent transmigrating aggregates here (because in being permanent they would not be aggregates then would they).


Are you not saying, my friend, that plants may be considered non-sentient manifestations of Buddha Nature? Or passive manifestations?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:55 am

The gist of what I'm saying is, that like Devas, Asuras, Humans, Animals, etc., Elementals are transmigrating sentient beings, and that plants are the physical bodies of Plant Elementals. However that Plant Elementals would also have Astral, Mental, and Causal bodies, that would only be, while we are in the physical 'waking state', perceivable with clairvoyance (we can't see our Mental bodies with ordinary (physical 'waking state' non-clairvoyant) vision, although we can see some of the physical effects of our mental body with ordinary physical vision).

The research of the Indian scientist Chandra Bose for example seems to demonstrate that some of the effects of plant's Vital bodies, and maybe even their Samjna Skandhas, are physically observable through various experiments (and who knows, maybe he was even able to demonstrate that plants can be observed to physically express some aspect of their Samskara and Vijnana Skandhas as well; but I'm not all that familiar with the research of Chandra Bose, as I only remember a little from the chapter on his research in Autobiography of a Yogi). And I'm also saying here that the Astral, Mental, and Causal bodies are impermanent aggregates just like our physical bodies are.

Then we could get into discussing the idea of "group souls" of Animals, Plants, and Minerals, etc., where it gets even more complicated (see Rudolf Steiner on this in relation to the 'Skandhas chart' that I'd posted a few posts back)....


gad rgyangs wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Perhaps machines can evolve into sentience. But at this point I don't think we can consider consider machines self-organizing at the level of complexity we see with biological life.


not yet but its an interesting possibility. it definitely highlights the complexity of the question "what is sentience?"

Steiner had an interesting take on the differences between the mineral, plant, animal and human kingdoms, with an extension to kingdoms of beings who do not manifest in our physical dimension:

http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/19080202p01.html


And there are also said to be many different kinds of "Elementals", just as there are many classes of beings mentioned in the teachings of the Buddhadharma (even aside from the six main types of beings of the Six Lokas of samsara). It's a very complex topic obviously, at least for me.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:34 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:However that Plant Elementals also have Astral, Mental, and Causal bodies, that would only be perceivable with clairvoyance (we can't see our Mental bodies with ordinary (non-clairvoyant) vision, although we can see some of the physical effects of our mental body with ordinary vision).
Well that's just some of the dumbest theorising I have heard for ages. If I have a "mental body" and you have a "mental body" then why would my mental body not be able to see your mental body? Why can't I "see" my mental body utilising my "mental" eyes? It's like saying one has physical eyes but they cannot see physical form if they don't achieve sensory calirvoyance! Hogwash!
Then we could get into discussing the idea of "group souls" of Animals, Plants, and Minerals, etc., where it gets even more complicated (see Rudolf Steiner on this in relation to the 'Skandhas chart' that I'd posted a few posts back)...
Group souls? The Buddha taught anatman, if there is no individual soul how can there be a group soul?

You are wandering far afield my friend, remember we are on a Buddhist forum. This is the Dharma-free-for-all, not just plain free-for-all.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:43 am

All I meant is that we can't ordinarily see our mental body with our physical body's eyes.

Of course we could see our mental body with our mental body's eyes. I never stated otherwise. The thing is though, that when many of us physically wake up in the morning, we don't remember the experiences that we had in our mental bodies during physical sleep.

So again, I meant that while we are in the physical 'waking state', we can't see our mental bodies without clairvoyance.

I've edited my previous post in order to clarify.

:anjali:
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:33 am

Still makes no sense. Do our mental bodies go somewhere else when we are awake and we enter our physical bodies? ie are our physical bodies seperate to our mental bodies? If yes, then where do they go? If no, then why can we not see our mental bodies with the mental body that co-exists with the physical body? If our physical and our mental bodies are not seperate thus our physical senses could "see" our mental body and our mental senses could "see" our physical body. If neither then what???

If sleep is physical (as you said) then why do we need a mental body?

And what about our mental states or consciousness? Do we have one for our mental body and one for our physical body?

You are not making any sense.
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PS Exactly how physical is our physical body really and how much is just mental projection?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:43 am

My current understanding is that our mental body is always with us (it's said to be how we actually think, and as Malcolm said it's nothing but Vayu, as can be seen in the 'Skandhas chart' I posted); however, like many Dream Yoga writings state (Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, H.H. the Dalai Lama, etc.), when we go to sleep at night we can actually consciously utilize our Mental Body in the dream state to fly, go through walls, etc. But this isn't like ordinary dreaming, because the Dream Yoga state is said to be very vivid (someone once made the analogy that both ordinary physical experience and ordinary dreams are like VHS tape, whereas full-blown Dream Yoga is like Blue-Ray DVD in comparison). Not to mention that in ordinary dreaming we can't go wherever we want like we are said to be able to in Conscious Astral Projection, Mental-Body Travel, or Dream Yoga.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Dave The Seeker » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:16 pm

There have been many great replies and thoughts in this thread, But.......

Just a thought here on this, if plants are sentient, wouldn't the act of weeding your garden be the intention to kill a sentient being?


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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:42 pm

The Seeker wrote:Just a thought here on this, if plants are sentient, wouldn't the act of weeding your garden be the intention to kill a sentient being?

Even if all living things have sentience to varying degrees, it still remains that plants are among the less sentient. Although weeding requires the intentional killing of what barely qualify as sentient beings, I would be more concerned about unintentionally harming creatures such as worms and spiders, whose sentience is easy to see.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Dave The Seeker » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:10 pm

I can not see how by physically pulling a weed/plant you are harming a worm or bug. Unless of course you don't see it and crush it when grabbing the weed.

Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:13 pm

The Seeker wrote:I can not see how by physically pulling a weed/plant you are harming a worm or bug. Unless of course you don't see it and crush it when grabbing the weed.

Kindest wishes, Dave


Well, you can destroy something's home. If someone plucked your house up buy the roots I am sure you would feel harmed.

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:02 pm

Malcolm wrote:The standard Buddhist view is that there are sentient beings who lack form. This is not accepted in Dzogchen teachings.


I don't think this type of formlessness is held very strongly though. It's pretty easy to poke holes through: It exists = it has a sign by which it can be apprehended as such = form.

Certainly, it isn't formlessness in the same rigorous sense as is used in 'formless wisdom' and so forth.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:10 pm

The Seeker wrote:By being immobile how can they "seek out something pleasurable" or "avoid pain"?

Their root systems grow towards nutrients and their leaves "follow" the light source.
Not really sure how that's feeling.


Kindest wishes, Dave


They are not entirely immobile. Sunflowers seem like a good example: they turn towards the sun.

If these are classified as feeling it's obviously of a very primitive sort. We tend to understand sentience as a consciousness acting upon such things. Ie, a sentient being can act on a certain impulse for something, but there are always exception to this. Sunflowers without exception turn towards the sun. It's pretty hardwired into their biology. Active snap trap carnivorous plants might be interesting to look at though.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:16 pm

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

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:19 pm

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.
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