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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:49 am 
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viel wrote:
A sentient being is an organism that experiences, that's what sentience means:)

Dogs are sentient, people are sentient, algae isn't and I am not sure about spiders:)


Spiders and all insects are sentient beings. Therefore, any Buddhist should not kill them, and this is not a joke.

I agree that algae are not sentient because they are basically like plants but are even simpler in structure. It's harder to tell if protazoa like amoebas are sentient or not.

I suppose the general rule should be "When in doubt, don't harm it." Of course, we probably kill many microorganisms each day just by walking around, so some things we can't avoid.

The Jains are experts at non-violence. I should read more about their techniques to avoid harming creatures.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:24 pm 
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perhaps one should look at sapience vs. sentience...?

Sapient beings even flies have the capability of hope and fear. If there is hope and fear, there is craving and rebirth. Sentient normally characterizes that which has senses. But since plants have a sense of pain and pleasure and differentiate the two from what research shows, perhaps we are speaking more of sapience. A sufficient sentience that produces senses and a sapience of such senses sufficient to create suffering of not getting what it needs and fear of death. The sapience of an ant hive-mind or bees. Even the smallest fruit fly has hope and fear of food/procreation for its survival. And the fact that small insects will sacrifice their lives for the sake of their offspring indicates a small sapience. Bees do elaborate dances to communicate to their mates at the hive where the pollen is, and through this they communicate in a language to each other. This is a form of primitive sapience. Spiders are certainly primitively sapient. :namaste: T

he ability to hope and fear only comes from a being that has senses sufficient to experience suffering and death (which is what gives the ability to hope and fear). Bacteria have no sapience. There may be a subtle sentience, but I doubt it is sufficient to meet criteria of hope/fear. The simplest way I think of it is: can it hope or fear? If yes, then it is sentient. If no, it is not subject to karma. That way any animal or strange being that has this capability falls under one's umbrella of mindfulness and compassion towards sentient beings.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:34 pm 
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viel wrote:
A sentient being is an organism that experiences, that's what sentience means:)

Dogs are sentient, people are sentient, algae isn't and I am not sure about spiders:)


This is difficult to know, without first hand experience. Spiders have a nervous system, as do insects in general. Humans feel pain and pleasure through the stimuli that is transmitted through the nerves, hence it is easy to imagine that the spiders would experience in like manner.
The so called "lower life forms" react to external stimuli, you can't be sure if they also experience something? You can't rule it out, I would think.
When humans react to external stimuli, we conclude that they experience feelings, do we not ?

It is worth noting that spiders, grasshoppers etc... have tiny brains, something that is like a spinal column, a heart, tiny muscles that move their legs, and so on... You will find descriptions of it in the web, in categories like "Spider anatomy, Grasshopper anatomy".

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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 3:44 am 
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Location: Trāyastriṃśa. Just kidding. What a cool sanksrit word, huh?
This is not really going to help with the theoretical answers to this question, but more the practical ones:

The Tibetan for this is Sem-chen (I don't know the wylie) which means "mind having"
So that muddies it even further, maybe.

All I know is that approaching this from a materialist, scientific view is only one way of defining things: I used to think "if it has a central nervous system, it can feel pain, so I won't eat it." and gorge myself on as much shrimp as I wanted.


But now I think that's really dualistic. Most sources of scripture say sentient beings pervade all of space. Under one's fingernail there are infinite sentient beings. Infinite hell realms.

Animistic-influenced Buddhism (Via Bon or Shinto) has a really really profound undercurrent: objects are beings too. Having compassion for an elevator or your adopt-a-highway or the creek by your house. Offerings to the Nagas and local deities or pretas are really trying to help the "inanimate" aspects of our reality (rivers, forests, mountains) also achieve liberation.

This doesn't help the relative question of whether or not yeast is a sentient being, or where you draw the line...I guess I'm just arguing that maybe we can't and shouldn't draw a line on this one.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:35 am 
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There is a kind of standard list of beings that are the object of Maitri bhavana and the object of the Four Brahma abodes.
Alex Berzin's otherwise excellent article about the Four Brahma Abodes avoids discussing what is included in the expression "all beings". The standard list of beings is found in the Path of Purification when Buddhaghosha explains the Brahma Viharas, it is also in Abhidharma texts. I think they are all mentioned in this text of the Chant of Metta http://www.buddhanet.net/chant-metta.htm. There is an object of maitri that is Everything that breathes.
Longchenpa explains that the object of the Four Brahma Viharas should be extended first to one continent, then to the beings of the four continents, then to other worlds: beings in a thousand worlds, beings in a million worlds, beings in thousand million worlds, and finally beings in all world systems.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:49 pm 
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Could it be that microorganism realm is a manifestation of the hungry ghost and maybe even hell realms?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:21 pm 
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I have also at onetime thought that micro-organisms, (viruses, bacteria etc..) could be the "hungry ghosts". According to certain yogis like there are many different kinds of hungry ghosts, some of them are really small and invisible normally, but other kinds are not.
You could also study and meditate on the viruses and bacteria with the help of pictures that are easily available. Like for example the Big Picture Book of Viruses at http://www.virology.net/big_virology/
That will give you some feeling what they are like.

There is also a scientific Five Kingdoms of Life, which should be interesting for buddhists. http://waynesword.palomar.edu/trfeb98.htm

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:11 pm 
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Perhaps the microcosm is the lower realms, and the macrocosm is the higher realms.
Perhaps planets are demigods and quasars are gods!!!
I heard John Veltheim, who is the founder of the body talk healing system,
explain that humans are the event horizon of the universe.
We decide what happens in reality (perhaps this is from the perspective of humans and all beings experience this in their respective realms((?)) .)

As far as the measure of time goes (higher realm lifespan long, lower realm life span short) the theory regarding micro/macrocosms, postulated above, would make sense.
Compare these 3:
- The time it takes for a cell to divide
- Human life span
- The time it takes for a sun to orbit around the galactic center.

It's like clockwork. :yinyang:


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:58 am 
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I don't think there is necessarily a correspondence between size and consciousness. Size=consciousness is not the buddhist view. Buddhism accepts that fleas etc are conscious beings, they are not lower realm because of the size of their bodies.
Would you say that elephants and whales are on a higher level of consciousness than humans?

Five Kingdoms of Life is interesting in many respects. There is no separate kingdom of humans, humans are just one of the species in the kingdom of animals.
All of the five kingdoms share a common genetic language, i.e. they are built with a similar information system.

The Five Kingdoms of Life:
1. Monera; single-celled organisms without a nucleus, bacteria.
2. Protists; single-celled organisms that have a nucleus, algae.
3. Fungi
4. Plants
5. Animals

On the other hand in the Abhidharma the devas, gods and brahmas are described as having much larger bodies than the human form. You can find this in the Abhidharmakosha of Vasubandhu. In the Abhidharma there are different spheres of existence, that are not visible to ordinary human eye.

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