Fungi: Sentient?

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Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Jikan » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:48 pm

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_o ... world.html


There are ways in which fungi are more like animal life that anyone would identify as "sentient being" in a Buddhist context than like plant life (which have gone down as debatably sentient in DharmaWheel talk).

The trouble comes if you try to sort out where one fungus begins and the next starts; the notion of a skin-bound singular "being" that is sentient becomes a bit fuzzy.
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Norwegian » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:02 pm

Fungi, myxomycetes (slime mold), and mycorrhiza are very, very interesting topics :thumbsup:
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Jikan » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:03 pm

And a lot of them are really, really delicious! and good for you too
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:18 pm

Yes, I love it. Mushrooms are an aDaptogen, they balance out/repair what's out of orDer. I injest lot's of mushroom's, also take Rishi suppliments. Knock on wooD, I'm never sick. If they have the intelligence to heal our boDy, they obviously have the intelligence to heal the Earth. :namaste:
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Adumbra » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:20 am

The trouble comes if you try to sort out where one fungus begins and the next starts; the notion of a skin-bound singular "being" that is sentient becomes a bit fuzzy.


A good analogy for this in the animal kingdom might be the nervous system of insects. Vertebrate animals (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish) have a chordate nervous system which is centered in the head. Insects, however, have what is known as a ganglionic nervous system which is spread throughout their bodies and contains much redundancy.
The ganglionic system resembles a ladder with bulbous neural tissues at the joints. Invertebrate organisms thus are comprised of a collection of sub-brains, each of which controls a separate part of the animal with fairly complete autonomy and no real centralized control. Sensors and their ganglia tend to cluster nearer the head, making not a true brain as we understand the term but rather a large bundle of distinct fibers. Such a nervous system is highly efficient for responding quickly to stimuli. Each clump of nerve cells becomes expert at some particular function–detecting and passing along sensory information, sweeping a leg or swing in wide uniform arc, opening and closing the jaws in slow munching motions during feeding, and so on... It is hard for us to imagine the mentality of beings with advanced ganglionic intelligence. Dr. H. Chandler Elliot, a neurologist at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, notes that humans normally disregard their internal organs. We respond to an empty stomach or a feeling of indigestion but normally we ignore its activities. Says Elliot: "The head of an insect apparently regards not only its viscera but also its legs, wings, and so on, with similar detachment. If one deftly clips off the abdomen of a feeding wasp, the head may go on sucking, obviously not distressed. The mind of such a creature, must be alien to us almost beyond comprehension."
-Xenopsychology, Robert A. Freitas Jr.


Fungi are potentially the largest organisms on earth. A large enough fungus could conceivably possess a sort of sentience that would just be too alien for us to detect.
"The first thing you have to understand is that I don't believe in ANYTHING."
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Norwegian » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:59 pm

For those who may be interested, here are some books focusing on fungi, myxomycetes and mycorrhiza which may help shed some more light on these topics (some introductory, some quite advanced (and some very expensive - but price can be reduced drastically by looking around for alternative sources, whether new or used copies)):

The Kingdom Fungi: The Biology of Mushrooms, Molds, and Lichens - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0881928917/
The Book of Fungi: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0226721175/
The Fifth Kingdom, 3/e - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1585100226/
Introduction to Fungi - John Webster -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/0521014832/
21st Century Guidebook to Fungi with CD - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0521186951/

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1580085792/
Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1605294071/
In the Company of Mushrooms: A Biologist's Tale - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0674445554/

The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0961079800/
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1580081754/
Medical Mycology: A Self-Instructional Text - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0803600364/
Medicinal Mushrooms You Can Grow For Health, Pleasure and Profit - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0921136021/

Fungal Biology -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1405130660/
Dictionary of the Fungi - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1845939336/
Fungal Families of the World - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0851998275/
Illustrated Dictionary of Mycology, 2/e - http://www.amazon.com/dp/089054400X/

Biocomplexity of Plant-Fungal Interactions - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0813815940/
Biodiversity of Fungi: Inventory and Monitoring Methods - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0125095511/

Myxomycetes: A Handbook of Slime Molds - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0881924393/
The Social Amoebae: The Biology of Cellular Slime Molds: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0691139393/

Mycorrhizas - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0851999018/
Mycorrhizal Symbiosis, Third Edition - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0123705266/

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1604691131/

Also:

http://www.fungi.com/
http://www.youtube.com/paulstamets

There's of course many, many more books than those linked above, but these are all very well received by most readers, and can be decent starting points. I also didn't include any identification books, because these depend on regions.
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:25 am

Wow, what a big wealth of information right there. May I ask how come you know so much about fungi?
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:30 am

He's a Mushroom.
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Virgo » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:33 am

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:He's a Mushroom.

There is definitely a fungus among us. ")

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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Norwegian » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:15 am

Dechen Norbu,

A disclaimer should be made, because I am far from an expert on fungi (not even close). It's just that botany and such is one of the topics I really love - so whether plants, fungi, lichen etc., it's a topic I am very interested in. This is just a collection of books I compiled after some research on the topic. I own some of these books, but not all. Majority of the aforementioned books touches upon fungi biology, and fungi in general, how they work, what they are, what they do etc.

For those who are interested in fungi, Paul Stamets' book "Mycellium Running" is very interesting, as it covers some of this. On a similar topic, that of sentience, and their importance in nature, there's two other books:

Plants As Persons: A Philosophical Botany (Suny Series on Religion and the Environment): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1438434286/
What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0374288739/

For example, Stamets demonstrates in the book "Mycelium Running" in an experiment, how one type of fungi basically is able to use diesel oil as a nutritional source, and consumes the oil as food being unharmed by it. If I water plants in the garden with diesel oil, I am pretty sure the outcome won't be a happy one!

Then there's fungi which is capable of absorbing tremendous amount of radiation, something Stamets suggests could be very useful today in Fukushima.

Fungi and slime molds are really something else as a whole, what they are capable of and what they do is really fascinating. For example, scientists have put slime molds (myxomycetes) in charge of controlling robots. In one experiment the robot walked around, and avoided bright areas, because the slime mold used in the experiment is very light shy. In another experiment, the robot drives around on a table, and avoids driving off the table itself, knowing where the table edge is.

I believe an increased awareness of how nature works, who the key players are - plants, animals or other - is important, especially when we consider how much we can impact our surroundings, both negatively and positively. It also opens up our eyes to a world that is much more alive than we may think.
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Virgo » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:26 am

Norwegian wrote: It also opens up our eyes to a world that is much more alive than we may think.

You had to throw that in there didn't ya'! Just kidding! And by the way, you really are a fun guy (or perhaps fungi?).

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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:40 am

For example, Stamets demonstrates in the book "Mycelium Running" in an experiment, how one type of fungi basically is able to use diesel oil as a nutritional source, and consumes the oil as food being unharmed by it.


Yes the mycelium isn't harmed but the fruits are not safe to consume.

The thing about fungi is they are able to break down any component to it's base properties. Making the nutrients, for example, in a garden more accessable to the plants.
The above mentioned test done by Paul and his crew at Fungi Perfecti showed that even what we call "brown fields", chemically poisoned areas, can be turned to "green fields" in a very short amount of time with the use of fungi.

If one looks they will see that fungi is the first form of life to arise after any disaster.
The fungi grow and begin to rot (rather quickly), draw in insects, insects draw in birds, birds poop out seeds from plants they have eaten and these areas begin to grow again.

I believe it is also in Mycelium Running, there is an example of how the world wide web and a "mat" of mycelium look almost exactly alike. The redundancy of the system so that the fungi will survive damage to one area by bypassing it and continuing to feed the system. Just as our technology tries to make sure we never go without our great info highway. :twothumbsup:

As to the OP though, I'm not sure if fungi is sentient, but it is much closer than many other life forms in my opinion.


Kindest wishes, Dave
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Re: Medicine Buddha is a Mushroom !

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:04 pm

Why do plant's even have nutrients ? It amazes me how plants & fungi have the abilites to nurture the world and make us healthy...they are truely Medicine Buddhas in my book....I started taking Reishi Mushrooms (capsules) (about a week ago), I always wanted to get off traditional Western meds (Advair), and transition over to a natural/safer/healthier alternative....I started reading this article this morning, just thought I'd share it will you:

http://www.naturalnews.com/021498.html
buddha mushroom.jpg
buddha mushroom.jpg (63.12 KiB) Viewed 732 times


I also experienced some dizziness for the first time today, so I think it's one of the side effects (temporary), as the body is going through a detox :

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-mo ... ffects.htm
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Re: Fungi: Sentient?

Postby Simon » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:00 pm

Thank you to Norwegian for posting the Fungi references. I used to have a slight fungus obsession. This was confined to photographing fungi and making sure I only ate the safe ones.

I assume you know about the (at least) 2 massive extinction events which were survived by slimes and moulds. To me this is a fascinating subject.

Change of subject:

I don't know whether people are interested in bacterial signaling systems, but they are extremely sophisticated and enable group dwellers to "behave" as a multi-cellular organism would. They collaborate, cooperate (altruism?) and also sabotage any organism that threatens their niche (terrorism?).
:reading:
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