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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:10 pm 
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Norwegian wrote:
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.
Neither hard nor floppy on that issue, but stop waving around the red herring and let me see you "Dzogchen" your way around this statement:
gregkavarnos wrote:
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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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:17 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
I think that there is a world of difference between pruning an olive tree and cutting the leg off a living cow.



Well, you don't prune cows.

M

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:21 pm 
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Not living ones anyway....

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:47 pm 
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The failed attempts at humor and mocking merely highlights the incapacity to deal with the issue I raised.

Do you know what this aquatic insect is:
Attachment:
FARAO.jpg
FARAO.jpg [ 87.3 KiB | Viewed 424 times ]

In Greek we call it a Φαραώ it translates as Pharoah in English. It is used as a live bait for fishing. It grows to about 60cm. It is "pruned" piece by piece by fishermen, starting from the tail and moving towards the head and remains alive after this procedure and regrows (much like an olive tree). It is still, in my books, a far cry from the similar procedure which is applied to trees.
:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:51 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
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?


Just a guy who has studied the canons.


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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:23 pm 
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treehuggingoctopus wrote:
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.


Yeah we brought that up. I don't know where you're getting the "heresy-watch" notion from. These are the exact same things I would say to a Hindu, a Muslim, Christian, Vodoun, Baha'i Follower and so forth. I don't really think heretical ideas matter so don't have a view of heresy, and I would never accuse someone of being heretical.

My point against that suggestion is that they are the ideas of Buddhists and not really the Dharmic teaching. Any Buddhist can say whatever they want and back up their theory, you know? This is just discussion. I don't have "issues" with non-Buddhists or people who think plants are "fully sentient." If I had issues, I wouldn't be here discussing it. However I am very interested. What is there to be defensive about? I have no question that plants do not experience sentience in themselves. But, as with all truth, there is a lot more to it than the mere question of whether they are or aren't sentient--even though "sentient" is a term not used in the canons and is a modern epithet, used by someone who derived it from a Latin word.

My original explanation of my opinion was meant to show that I couldn't see any conventional reason to call plants sentient as with the living beings. I used the term sub-sentient to describe my view, and although this was all recognized, the question of how bean sprouts grown in jars of water are conscious living beings. You shouldn't confuse strict Buddhist argument with defensiveness--on a Buddhist forum.


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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:03 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
The Seeker wrote:
Can it be said that any of the three, trees,plants and fungi, have consciousness, perception or thought?
Do they "know" they are alive? That would be consciousness.
These actions require an actual brain and nervous system to carry out these functions, primarily feeling. Unless we also say "feeling" as an emotion, then it would in no doubt require higher functions of a brain.
Insects, for example, when threatened attempt to escape (preserve their life) so they must have sense of being alive, they definitely perceive, they communicate, etc... but they do not have brains or even highly developed nervous systems.
:namaste:



Insects do have brains and many of them have highly developed nervous systems. :smile: Two groups of invertebrates have notably complex brains: arthropods (insects, crustaceans, arachnids, and others), and cephalopods (octopuses, squids, and similar molluscs) Plants on the other hand, no brain and no nervous system...at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:10 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
I am not a buddhist.


Just curious, if you are not Buddhist, which religion / path do you identify with?

If it is just about not wanting to be labeled the R word (religion) which path is closest to your views?

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:15 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
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:


The devil is in the details, you know. So how central the Three Marks and the Four Seals have to be for a doctrine to be Buddhist? Which interpretations are allowed? How the avoidance of the four extremes ought to be construed? And so it goes.

Son wrote:
These are the exact same things I would say to a Hindu, a Muslim, Christian, Vodoun, Baha'i Follower and so forth. I don't really think heretical ideas matter so don't have a view of heresy, and I would never accuse someone of being heretical.

My point against that suggestion is that they are the ideas of Buddhists and not really the Dharmic teaching.


Your sentence above could well be seen as showing the kind of attitude I'm talking about. Plant-sentience, while Buddhist, isn't a Dharmic idea, you're saying - positing thus the 'correct' Dharma, to be distinguished from that Buddhism which is merely ostensibly Dharmic. The same basic approach underlies all Tibetan heresy-bashing - and all Buddhist ideological quarrells.

It's great, though rather dangerous, fun, I guess. But I, for one, no longer have a heart for it.

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:25 pm 
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Venus fly trap: http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/life-ve ... flies.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_fly_trap

Jelly fish don't have brains, but are members of the Animal Kingdom:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelly_fish

There does appear to be some 'gray' areas that question which life forms have sentience and which do not. All are anatta (soul is not an issue), so all could potentially be sentient.

Will wrote:
Bhikku Bodhi does not give a source, but his statement must have basis in the Dhamma:
Quote:
A "sentient being" (pani, satta) is a living being endowed with mind or consciousness; for practical purposes, this means human beings, animals, and insects. Plants are not considered to be sentient beings; though they exhibit some degree of sensitivity, they lack full-fledged consciousness, the defining attribute of a sentient being.


No 'full-fledged consciousness' but how about a lesser degree of consciousness? Perhaps it is a matter of degree? In an analogous way, animals have intelligence, but to a lesser degree than most humans.

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:11 pm 
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the interesting thing about jelly fish is that they contain electricity.
for humans to attempt to establish "what is the consciousness of other animals? let alone, does plant life have consciousness?" is pretty presumptuous since human's can't agree on "what is human consciousness?"!

i think the debate of whether or not plants have consciousness, in human terminology is a waste of time. what's important to understand is the dependency all living beings have on plant life. without them we do not exist, would trees exist if humans didn't? in fact, humans would probably be one of the few, in not only, living things on earth that could disappear, and still the earth's ecosystem would function properly without hinderance. This I think is the biggest issue facing everyone.

lets just accept plants and trees and all water plant life too, they have a purpose, so let's not abuse it.

breath well!

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:13 pm 
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I really wanted to avoid a full-fledged exposition here, but this has gotten to the point where I'm being accused of "holding my own private version of Dharma and using it to bash other Buddhist views." For me, this is not a quarrel, it's a complicated discussion. And before I explain my view, I'm going to point out that several people are reacting to "recognizing doctrine" as being sectarian, prejudiced and defensive against other views? You know, it's really childish to paint people in a bad way just because they're trying to challenge your opinions. Why turn a beneficial, friendly discussion into something negative...?

Now, I'm going to put all my expressed opinions together into my summarized view on sentience in plants, focusing on plants + sentience, and my view on the matter. From that I'd be happy to have some more discussion, and possibly an established viewpoint from someone else, and not just opinions here and there along with a reference to Dzogchen or books or something, and some real thought and opinion. Who wants to argue for the sake of arguing? I'm here to discuss positively.

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


Malcolm wrote:
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



Actually, the beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite Space have consciousness and perception. The beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite consciousness also have consciousness--(how did you miss that in your expert study?). In the Sphere of Nothingness, there is also perception. In the Sphere of Neither Percepton nor Non-Perception is where dwell the beings without perception, who are thus cut off from other existences. However, it is very clear and obvious that these beings do not have form and thus can't be sentient plants. In other words, beings who are self-aware with the form of plants.

The beings dwelling in Asannasatta, the Mindless Sphere are also clearly not "plants." Here is canonical:
Quote:
These beings are unconscious and experience nothing (A.iv.401). As soon as an idea occurs to them they fall from their state (D.i.28). Brahmin ascetics, having practiced continual meditation and attained to the fourth jhāna, seeing the disadvantages attached to thinking, try to do away with it altogether. Dying in this condition, they are reborn among the Asaññasattā, having form only, but neither sensations, ideas, predispositions nor consciousness. They last only as long as their power of jhāna; then an idea occurs to them and they die straightaway (DA.i.118).


As living beings, are these beings "separate" from plants? Nope, they are not separate from anything. However, their body is not that of a plant. Their "form body" is derived from their karma, and regardless of how many plants you kill, even if you destroy an entire planet of plantlife, they will not fall from their state. They fall from their state once thoughts begin to arise and are in no way dependent on plants. Having no sensation, perception, or consciousness, they cannot possibly be sentient plants with non-self-awareness. Therefore not all living beings should be regarded as "sentient," a WORD which here means: ?

Quote:
Asannasatta Brahmas are those divine beings without any consciousness or mind... While concentrating on the fault of consciousness, "Citta is loathsome. Citta is loathsome", they develop a kammatthana called sannaviraga bhavana - disgust for [memory].

When they die they are reborn as Brahmas, in the Asannasatta Brahma realms and live like golden statues, standing, sitting or reclining without consciousness. Their life-span is 500 kappas long.


Their body is a result of their meditative attainments, and is not based on being a plant. Again, I do not deny that plantlife is "part of sentience," that it is projected from substratum consciousness and is therefore sentient in a way that is unlike beings with karma. The difference between plants and sentient beings is that plants do not have volition, suffer from ignorance or achieve nirvana, and that their sentience is projected from substratum consciousness (the basis of all consciousness and that which carries karmic seeds like a torrent of water). But it is like saying, "yes these living beings are sentient but they have no derived levels of consciousness of their own, " Thus I evoke the term "sub-sentience," to denote a stratum of "existence" that is derived from the primary stratum. They don't feel, and their non-mental existence does not change. As with asannasatta beings, they do not have "memory" or consciousness, but their body comes from jivitanavaka-kalapa. The body is formed by the karma of their previous life and gives them rebirth in a body without mind, memory, and once this karma is counteracted, thought does again arise and this existence immediately ends.

We observe that plants, "one-facultied" or sub-sentient living beings, come and go without volition and are essentially and by all conventions one-facultied. Call them sentient if you want, but they can neither inherit karma nor pass karma on to further births, they cannot become self-aware. Their suffering is PROJECTED, it is derived from the substratum consciousness as a projective stratum of sentience. Perhaps this is not in the language that a Dzogchen or Japanese Buddhist would "prefer," but this is not about preferences, it's about understanding. Buddhism, is about understanding.

My view:


To put what I just stated above into a simple term, plants do not have storehouse consciousnesses of their own, as demonstrated theoretically, but rather any given plant has sentience that is derived from the substratum consciousness of sentient beings, but without storehouse consciousness. Therefore living beings such as plants are not subject to storehouse consciousness, and are only projectively sentient.

If you think of this graphically, it clearly describes why I am using the epithet sub-sentient, and designating plantlife within the projected stratum which is derived from our storehouse consciousnesses. Basically, all living beings are "sentient" VIA their derivation from substratum primordial consciousness; however, those beings without storehouse consciousness (ergo plants-fungus), have their sentience projected from storehouse consciousness... And while it is no less real than indefinitely conscious sentience, it lies in a borderline-sentient stratum, because the sentience is projected from the living beings of storehouse consciousness, and are not able to develop storehouse consciousnesses of their own, due to their nature. In conclusion, projective living beings have derived sentience from substratum consciousness, but are incapable of self-awareness, being on a projective borderline. Hence, the derived living of plants is sentient by projection of storehouse consciousness and not fruition of it. The distinction between fruition of consciousness (karma) and projection of consciousness is thereby defined.




Once framed into this terminology, I think it becomes theoretically apparent that the borderline stratum is always and everywhere present within samsara, and that when sentient beings expand their "storehouse consciousnesses" to such lofty existences, they manifest this stratum (Mindless Sphere and Sphere of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception).
1.) The mindless beings clearly dismantle their mental faculties by karmically generating an animate yet mindless body--because storehouse consciousness was not purified, eventually other karma emerges and produces thought.
2.) The beings of neither perception nor non-perception have reached the absolutely most subtle state of existence possible, yet without removal of the fetters and purification of storehouse consciousness, eventually new storehouse consciousnesses will unleash the karmic fruit of beginningless past lives.

On the other hand, plants have beginningless past lives, but they are without storehouse consciousness and have only projected sentience according to that of the storehouse consciousness. Hence, they endlessly and beginningless circle around the borderline of sentience throughout the infinity of samsara. This would thus place plantlife on the rims of the Wheel of Suffering, or if you will, in the center depending on your model. Projective living beings are therefore not intrinsically subject to dukkha, but should be treated as living beings. Lo and behold, the Buddha dictated that we should respect all living beings including plantlife. However, because of these founded opinions, I'm of this view that the derived life of plants is sentient by projection of storehouse consciousness and not fruition of it. The distinction between fruition of consciousness (karma) and projection of consciousness is thereby defined. This is all of course just conventional terms and is meant for literal use. This isn't something most people can just pick up and grasp easily.

~Son

P.S. hope that can fuel some discussion and provoke some views form other people--if there are any...?
Also, most if not all jellyfish have a "nerve-net" with electricity, through which they experience touch, and some species of jellyfish, such as the deadly Box jelly, have primitive eyes that actually allow them to see. Jellyfish are most certainly conscious, sensitive, sentient beings.


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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:33 pm 
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Son wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
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?


Just a guy who has studied the canons.


So have I.

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:35 pm 
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David N. Snyder wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
I am not a buddhist.


Just curious, if you are not Buddhist, which religion / path do you identify with?

If it is just about not wanting to be labeled the R word (religion) which path is closest to your views?



I am a Dzogchen practitioner.

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:51 pm 
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Son wrote:

Actually, the beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite Space have consciousness and perception. The beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite consciousness also have consciousness--(how did you miss that in your expert study?). In the Sphere of Nothingness, there is also perception. In the Sphere of Neither Percepton nor Non-Perception is where dwell the beings without perception, who are thus cut off from other existences.


As I said, according to the Kosha, beings in the ārupyadhātu do not possess physical sense organs; they possess a mental faculty, a consciousness and single mental object (the concentration which propells their rebirth). They likewise possess only three faculties (indriya)-- the mental faculty, the life faculty, and the faculty of equanimity.

You argument was about self-awareness. Formless realm beings have none.

Quote:
The distinction between fruition of consciousness (karma) and projection of consciousness is thereby defined.


The Dzogchen perspective is much easier.

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:56 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:

Actually, the beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite Space have consciousness and perception. The beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite consciousness also have consciousness--(how did you miss that in your expert study?). In the Sphere of Nothingness, there is also perception. In the Sphere of Neither Percepton nor Non-Perception is where dwell the beings without perception, who are thus cut off from other existences.


As I said, according to the Kosha, beings in the ārupyadhātu do not possess physical sense organs; they possess a mental faculty, a consciousness and single mental object (the concentration which propells their rebirth). They likewise possess only three faculties (indriya)-- the mental faculty, the life faculty, and the faculty of equanimity.

You argument was about self-awareness. Formless realm beings have none.

Quote:
The distinction between fruition of consciousness (karma) and projection of consciousness is thereby defined.


The Dzogchen perspective is much easier.


... Sounds good?


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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:41 am 
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Son wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Son wrote:

Actually, the beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite Space have consciousness and perception. The beings dwelling in the Sphere of Infinite consciousness also have consciousness--(how did you miss that in your expert study?). In the Sphere of Nothingness, there is also perception. In the Sphere of Neither Percepton nor Non-Perception is where dwell the beings without perception, who are thus cut off from other existences.


As I said, according to the Kosha, beings in the ārupyadhātu do not possess physical sense organs; they possess a mental faculty, a consciousness and single mental object (the concentration which propells their rebirth). They likewise possess only three faculties (indriya)-- the mental faculty, the life faculty, and the faculty of equanimity.

You argument was about self-awareness. Formless realm beings have none.

Quote:
The distinction between fruition of consciousness (karma) and projection of consciousness is thereby defined.


The Dzogchen perspective is much easier.


... Sounds good?


I have supplied this answer a few times.

From the Dzogchen perspective, everything, including consciousness, is a merely a display of the basis' energetic radiance.

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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:15 am 
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glitch


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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:16 am 
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glitch 2


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 Post subject: Re: Plant Sentient
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:17 am 
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Quote:
I have supplied this answer a few times.

From the Dzogchen perspective, everything, including consciousness, is a merely a display of the basis' energetic radiance.


I don't find that statement "easier." I'm not even sure what "easier" means. But really it's not that critical. In that frame of speaking, sentience doesn't even come into question, and saying any being is sentient or not sentient is unfounded.


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