Plant Sentient

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Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 3:31 pm

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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby dharmagoat » Wed May 30, 2012 3:49 pm

Trees communicating and benefiting one another is a cute idea, for sure. Unfortunately it all sounds like speculation, not science. What I find interesting is the idea that trees could communicate through their roots with the help of fungi, but no evidence is presented that they actually do.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if this video turned out to be a hoax. But well worth watching.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 30, 2012 3:55 pm

Beautiful research.

I've often wondered if trees could be self-aware on some level.

I'm aware that the Jains insist that all plants have souls, hence their unique ideas on vegetarianism.

As far as I know the Buddha is not on record declaring that plants could not be sattva.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 3:58 pm

Huseng wrote:Beautiful research.

I've often wondered if trees could be self-aware on some level.

I'm aware that the Jains insist that all plants have souls, hence their unique ideas on vegetarianism.

As far as I know the Buddha is not on record declaring that plants could not be sattva.


No, he isn't.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 30, 2012 4:04 pm

Malcolm wrote:No, he isn't.


I also recall a Jataka tale about two "tree spirits"...

http://www.danielharper.org/story22.htm

It is an interesting matter to consider.

It makes me consider a Jain diet to be honest.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 4:10 pm

Huseng wrote:
Malcolm wrote:No, he isn't.


I also recall a Jataka tale about two "tree spirits"...

http://www.danielharper.org/story22.htm

It is an interesting matter to consider.

It makes me consider a Jain diet to be honest.


It makes me realize the truth of these Upanishadic statements:

"All beings, that exist on earth, are born of food; then they live by food,then again to the food they go at the end . so verily food is the eldest of all creatures. Therefore, it is called the medicament of all. All those who worship food as Brahman obtain all food. Food is indeed the eldest of all creatures. Therefore,it is called the medicine for all. From food all being are born, having been born they grow by food. Food is eaten by the beings and it also eats them. Therefore, it is called food (Anna)."

And:

He perceived that food is Brahman, for from food these beings are produced; by food, when born, they live; and into food they enter at their death.

And:

Let him never abuse food, that is the rule.
Breath is food', the body eats the food. The body rests on breath, breath rests on the body. This is the food resting on food. He who knows this food resting on food, rests exalted, becomes rich in food, and able to eat food (healthy), becomes great by offspring, cattle, and the splendour of his knowledge (of Brahman), great by fame.

Let him never shun food, that is the rule. Water is food, the light eats the food. The light rests on water, water rests on light. This is the food resting on food. He who knows this food resting on food, rests exalted, becomes rich in food, and able to eat food (healthy), becomes great by offspring, cattle, and the splendour of his knowledge (of Brahman), great by fame.

Let him acquire much food, that is the rule. Earth is food, the ether eats the food. The ether rests on the earth, the earth rests on the ether. This is the food resting on food. He who knows this food resting on food, rests exalted, becomes rich in food, and able to eat food (healthy), becomes great by offspring, cattle, and the splendour of his knowledge (of Brahman), great by fame.


'I am food (object), I am food, I am food! I am the eater of food (subject), I am the eater of food, I am the eater of food! I am the poet (who joins the two together), I am the poet, I am the poet! I am the first-born of the Right (rita). Before the Devas I was in the centre of all that is immortal. He who gives me away, he alone preserves me: him who eats food, I eat as food.

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Taittiriya_Upanishad
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 30, 2012 4:15 pm

Malcolm wrote:It makes me realize the truth of this Upanishadic statement:

"All beings, that exist on earth, are born of food; then they live by food,then again to the food they go at the end . so verily food is the eldest of all creatures. Therefore, it is called the medicament of all. All those who worship food as Brahman obtain all food. Food is indeed the eldest of all creatures. Therefore,it is called the medicine for all. From food all being are born, having been born they grow by food. Food is eaten by the beings and it also eats them. Therefore, it is called food (Anna)."

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Taittiriya_Upanishad


There is a kind of reassuring comfort knowing that despite having consumed and harmed so many beings in this life, when all is said and done my flesh and blood will nourish many other beings.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed May 30, 2012 4:18 pm

In Western traditions (Paracelsus, Franz Hartmann, Rudolf Steiner, etc.) it is said that every plant has its Elemental and that plants are the physical bodies of the Elementals.

Working with the plant Elementals is the basis of Western Esoteric Medicine. The Magician is supposed to bless the plant—out of compassion—before harvesting it because it is said that if one doesn't bless the plants before harvesting them, problems can arise similar to how the Bönpos say that we can have provocations from Elemental forces of nature by polluting a river (a home of Undines, in western terminology) for example.

If we have such provocations, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche says that we can offer Sang & Serkyem and do Long Life practices.

*Edit*

I was going to say that there has got to be an Eastern counterpart specifically related to the teachings on Plant Elementals, so here we have it from the Jataka Tales, Tree Spirits:


Huseng wrote:I also recall a Jataka tale about two "tree spirits"...

http://www.danielharper.org/story22.htm
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 4:20 pm

Huseng wrote:
Malcolm wrote:It makes me realize the truth of this Upanishadic statement:

"All beings, that exist on earth, are born of food; then they live by food,then again to the food they go at the end . so verily food is the eldest of all creatures. Therefore, it is called the medicament of all. All those who worship food as Brahman obtain all food. Food is indeed the eldest of all creatures. Therefore,it is called the medicine for all. From food all being are born, having been born they grow by food. Food is eaten by the beings and it also eats them. Therefore, it is called food (Anna)."

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Taittiriya_Upanishad


There is a kind of reassuring comfort knowing that despite having consumed and harmed so many beings in this life, when all is said and done my flesh and blood will nourish many other beings.


Buddhists spend so much time worrying about the "self" that they fail to appreciate the great and profound wisdom to be gleaned from the rishis who composed the Vedas and Upanishads. Consider the Hymn to Herbs:

1. HERBS that sprang up in time of old, three ages earlier than the Gods,—
Of these, whose hue is brown, will I declare the hundred powers and seven.
2 Ye, Mothers, have a hundred homes, yea, and a thousand are your growths.
Do ye who have a thousand powers free this my patient from disease.
3 Be glad and joyful in the Plants, both blossoming and bearing fruit,
Plants that will lead us to success like mares who conquer in the race.
4 Plants, by this name I speak to you, Mothers, to you the Goddesses:
Steed, cow, and garment may I win, win back thy very self, O man.
5 The Holy Fig tree is your home, your mansion is the Parna tree:
Winners of cattle shali ye be if ye regain for me this man.
6 He who hath store of Herbs at hand like Kings amid a crowd of men,—
Physician is that sage's name, fiend-slayer, chaser of disease.
7 Herbs rich in Soma, rich in steeds, in nourishments, in strengthening power,—
All these have I provided here, that this man may be whole again.
8 The healing virtues of the Plants stream forth like cattle from the stall,—
Plants that shall win me store of wealth, and save thy vital breath, O man.
9 Reliever is your mother's name, and hence Restorers are ye called.
Rivers are ye with wings that fly: keep far whatever brings disease.
10 Over all fences have they passed, as steals a thief into the fold.
The Plants have driven from the frame whatever malady was there.
11 When, bringing back the vanished strength, I hold these herbs within my hand,
The spirit of disease departs ere he can seize upon the life.
12 He through whose frame, O Plants, ye creep member by member, joint by joint,—
From him ye drive away disease like some strong arbiter of strife.
13 Fly, Spirit of Disease, begone, with the blue jay and kingfisher.
Fly with the wind's impetuousspeed, vanish together with the storm.
14 Help every one the other, lend assistance each of you to each,
All of you be accordant, give furtherance to this speech of mine.
15 Let fruitful Plants, and fruitless, those that blossom, and the blossomless,
Urged onward by Bṛhaspati, release us from our pain and grief;
16 Release me from the curse's plague and woe that comes from Varuṇa;
Free me from Yama's fetter, from sin and offence against the Gods.
17 What time, descending from the sky, the Plants flew earthward, thus they spake:
No evil shall befall the man whom while he liveth we pervade,
18 Of all the many Plants whose King is, Soma, Plants of hundred forms,
Thou art the Plant most excellent, prompt to the wish, sweet to the heart.
19 O all ye various Herbs whose King is Soma, that o’erspread the earth,
Urged onward by Bṛhaspati, combine your virtue in this Plant.
20 Unharmed be he who digs you up, unharmed the man for whom I dig:
And let no malady attack biped or quadruped of ours.
21 All Plants that hear this speech, and those that have departed far away,
Come all assembled and confer your healing power upon this Herb.
22 With Soma as their Sovran Lord the Plants hold colloquy and say:
O King, we save from death the man whose cure a Brahman undertakes.
23 Most excellent of all art thou, O Plant thy vassals are the trees.
Let him be subject to our power, the man who seeks to injure us.


http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv10097.htm
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 Indrajala » Wed May 30, 2012 4:26 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:I was going to say that there has got to be an Eastern counterpart specifically related to the idea of Plant Elementals, but here we have it from the Jataka Tales, Tree Spirits:


Huseng wrote:I also recall a Jataka tale about two "tree spirits"...

http://www.danielharper.org/story22.htm


I don't think this is really canonical, let alone widely accepted. The issue of plant sentience is basically just that the Buddha never said, "Plants are not sentient beings." Within the six paths you don't see plants listed anywhere and even in early Buddhism I've never seen mention of "rebirth as a plant". It might be that even in early times people were uncertain about the "sentient status" of plants.

Dhammika Bhante I recall also has an article on tree worship in ancient India:

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2011/03/tree-worship.html

The correct term for tree worship is dendrolatry. In ancient India it was widely believed that sprits or gods inhabited trees, particularly large, old and gnarled ones, and tree worship was an important part of popular religion as it still is in India. The Greeks had similar beliefs and called tree spirits dryads. In the Tipitaka they are called rukkhadevata, vanadevata, or aramadevata, (A.III,369; M.I,307; S.IV,302). Some trees, called wishing trees (rucarukkha), were believed to answer prayers or more correctly, the gods in such trees did this. Likewise the healing power of certain herbs were believed to be due to the gods that inhabited them. There is no place in the Tipitaka where the Buddha endorsed the worshiping of trees the way he occasionally did for the gods. In the Dhammapada he said ‘Gripped by fear people go to sacred, hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines. But these are not a safe refuge, not the best refuge. Not by going there is one freed from all suffering.’ (Dhp.188-9). Several Jataka stories poke fun at tree worship.


He also wrote a number of brief articles on the Buddha and his appreciation for trees:

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2010/08/b ... ees-i.html

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2010/08/b ... es-ii.html

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2010/08/b ... s-iii.html
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 4:30 pm

Huseng wrote:
Lhug-Pa wrote:I was going to say that there has got to be an Eastern counterpart specifically related to the idea of Plant Elementals, but here we have it from the Jataka Tales, Tree Spirits:


Huseng wrote:I also recall a Jataka tale about two "tree spirits"...

http://www.danielharper.org/story22.htm


I don't think this is really canonical, let alone widely accepted. The issue of plant sentience is basically just that the Buddha never said, "Plants are not sentient beings." Within the six paths you don't see plants listed anywhere and even in early Buddhism I've never seen mention of "rebirth as a plant". It might be that even in early times people were uncertain about the "sentient status" of plants.


Schmidthausen has an interesting monograph on the status of plants in Early Buddhism, his take on it is that early Buddhists did regard plants as sentient in some fashion.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 30, 2012 4:31 pm

This is interesting (from Bhante's blog above):

The ancient Indians believed that trees would give their bounty on condition that they were treated with a degree of respect and the Buddha told a story to illustrate this very point. Long ago, the mythical King Koravya had an amazing banyan tree in his realm which bore fruit of exceptional sweetness. Everyone in the realm enjoyed the fruit freely and so there was no reason to guard the tree. But one day a man ate his fill of the fruit then broke a branch and went away. So angry was the spirit of the tree by this ingratitude that it caused the tree to bear no more fruit (A.III,369-70).



It seems the idea that trees could be inhabited by "spirits" (I'd be curious what the Pali or Sanskrit would be ... deva?) was widespread.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 30, 2012 4:32 pm

Malcolm wrote:Schmidthausen has an interesting monograph on the status of plants in Early Buddhism, his take on it is that early Buddhists did regard plants as sentient in some fashion.


I'll have to look into that. Fascinating to consider the possibility.

Just judging from what I'm digging up at the moment it seems there is plenty of sources which speak of "spirits in trees".
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 4:36 pm

Huseng wrote:This is interesting (from Bhante's blog above):

The ancient Indians believed that trees would give their bounty on condition that they were treated with a degree of respect and the Buddha told a story to illustrate this very point. Long ago, the mythical King Koravya had an amazing banyan tree in his realm which bore fruit of exceptional sweetness. Everyone in the realm enjoyed the fruit freely and so there was no reason to guard the tree. But one day a man ate his fill of the fruit then broke a branch and went away. So angry was the spirit of the tree by this ingratitude that it caused the tree to bear no more fruit (A.III,369-70).



It seems the idea that trees could be inhabited by "spirits" (I'd be curious what the Pali or Sanskrit would be ... deva?) was widespread.


Yaḳsās.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Mr. G » Wed May 30, 2012 4:39 pm

    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed May 30, 2012 4:41 pm

There is also the plant-sentience research of the Indian scientist Chandra Bose that had a chapter dedicated to it in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed May 30, 2012 5:27 pm

When Malcolm brought up the Dzogchen view which disregards dualistic notions of sentience and non-sentience he made a point to see that plants are not considered sentient. Now Malcolm you seem to be saying that plants are sentient? Well in the "Dzogchen" thread I asked a question that was not answered so I will ask it again. If we are to consider plants as sentient then where do they fit into the 6 realms schema? What is the mental "poison" that causes one to be born as a plant? Why did the Buddha not include plants in the schema of realms? Why is there no reference in the bardo teachings on the light, Buddha, wisdom and poison associated with the plant realm? Do you believe that the concept of "plants as sentients" can be introduced into the teachings? How would that benefit practice or help one achieve liberation?

Is that enough questions? :tongue:
:namaste:
PS It seems that the term inhabits (in reference to the Yakshas) is the key to understanding the statement. Like humans inhabit houses but this does not make houses sentient so Yakshas inhabit trees, rocks, and other natural physical phenomena but this does not make the phenomena sentient.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed May 30, 2012 5:40 pm

My guess is that plant rebirth occurs on the way down to (devolving) and/or on the way up from (evolving) the Preta Loka in the cycle of transmigration, and that the Buddha Shakyamuni simply did not consider it important enough at that time to go into more detail in regard to the workings of transmigration.

An example of a possibly-valid (descending) scale:

Devas
Ashuras
Humans
Animals
*Plants*
Pretas
Hells

Plants being subsumed within the Animal Loka perhaps (or maybe the Preta Loka as Malcolm suggested)?
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 5:46 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:If we are to consider plants as sentient then where do they fit into the 6 realms schema? What is the mental "poison" that causes one to be born as a plant? Why did the Buddha not include plants in the schema of realms? Why is there no reference in the bardo teachings on the light, Buddha, wisdom and poison associated with the plant realm?


The answer is I have no idea.

Do you believe that the concept of "plants as sentients" can be introduced into the teachings?


I think it is extraneous to the teachings.

How would that benefit practice or help one achieve liberation?


If plants are conscious communities, and this is demonstrable, then this opens up the door for increased awareness and understanding of our world.
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Re: Plant Sentient

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 30, 2012 5:49 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:PS It seems that the term inhabits (in reference to the Yakshas) is the key to understanding the statement. Like humans inhabit houses but this does not make houses sentient so Yakshas inhabit trees, rocks, and other natural physical phenomena but this does not make the phenomena sentient.


Well, is the human host body "sentient"? The minute you admit that "spirits" inhabit plants, you are opening the door for plants to be considered sentient. Just as the mind leaves the host body, so to would plant spirits leave the their host plants, and take up a new life in a newly germinated plant, for example. This just means that "plants" would be part of the preta realm.

M
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