Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Jason
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Re: Can Plants think?

Postby Jason » Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:28 am

Reminds me of something I read the other day that's somewhat related:

What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

While I think the end falls a bit flat, what I really like about this is how Graeber points towards the narrowing ideological view of material reality that reduces animals to calculating economic actors trying to maximize some sort of self-interest, and which minimizes the role of cooperation, play, and sociability in evolution.

For one, it leads towards the conclusion that we're little more than just robots, and leaves many of life's mysteries as, well, mysteries. It also illustrates how the way we frame things can ideologically exclude different possibilities, and has the effect of acting as theoretical blinders that themselves can make us see what we want to see, or else what we're conditioned by the ruling ideology to see.

So when it comes to science, for example, we have boxed ourselves "into a world where to be scientific means to offer an explanation of behaviour in rational terms" (following the model of vulgar economists and materialists), and where things like play ("the existence of action carried out for the sheer pleasure of acting, the exertion of powers for the sheer pleasure of exerting them") and freedom (non-determined, non-rational action) strike us as mysterious aberrations that need to be explained away rather than qualities that may vary well be present in some form in nature all the way down to the subatomic level.

Who knows, it may not just be plants and animals that have the ability to 'think.'
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby SarathW » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:48 am

Plants

In Jainism plants are considered to have life force and spirit. In later Buddhist teachings a clear line was drawn where the Buddhist cosmology included humans, animals, devas and other celestial beings, but not plants. However, there is some indication that this may have been a later development and that the early Buddhists regarded plants as somewhat a borderline case between sentient and insentient. The Buddhist Vinaya prohibits monks and nuns from doing any kind of violence against plants (Pac.10, 11). According to both Jainism and Buddhism, plants are one-facultied (kaayindriya, jiivitindriya); a form of rudimentary life. There is scientific research that is showing some possible evidence of neurobiology and possible sentience in plants

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... nd_Jainism
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Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby andyebarnes67 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:22 am

A very good documentary with David Attenborough - 'The Life of Plants' showed, by way of time lapse filming, the much more dynamic life of plants and I do subscribe to the view that they have the rudiments of communication, reactiveness etc.
I would also add though that they have no ability to make decisions, and that it is this that, for me, sets the blurred line between them and animals.
If a plant receives a sensory input and it is programmed to react, it will always react in a predictable way. For instance, some will move according to where in the sky the sun is. It will always move to follow it.
Whereas animals can make a decision as to how to react to an input, according to it's character and personality.
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Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby rowboat » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:48 am

Refracted rearwards along the course of evolution, consciousness displays itself qualitatively as a spectrum of shifting shades whose lower terms are lost in the night. - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
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Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:15 pm

andyebarnes67 wrote:I would also add though that they have no ability to make decisions, and that it is this that, for me, sets the blurred line between them and animals.
If a plant receives a sensory input and it is programmed to react, it will always react in a predictable way. For instance, some will move according to where in the sky the sun is. It will always move to follow it.
Whereas animals can make a decision as to how to react to an input, according to it's character and personality.


I agree, among all the forms of life (animals, algae, bacteria, plant, fungi), a line has to be drawn somewhere and for me the clear line is between Animal Kingdom and the rest. And the Animal Kingdom includes humans.

Perhaps the "highest" form of plant life for sentience is the Venus fly trap; the carnivorous plant that catches flies and literally eats them. Perhaps the "lowest" form of animal life is the Jelly fish which has no brain and acts on stimuli. If you look at those 2 forms of life, they don't look much different. However, they are the exception to the rule of plant and animal life and for the most part there is a huge difference between say a fish with eyes, a face, brain, mouth, vertebrate and a plant which just moves ever so slowly to the sun or rain.

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Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby dhammacoustic » Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:31 am

phpBB [video]


phpBB [video]


:anjali:
Taṃ tathāgato abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.

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Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby SarathW » Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:45 am

Very interesting video Silver Surfer.
Most striking is a plant try to trap a caterpillar.
This clearly show us that there is no person behind the action.
Is there a consciousness behind it?
If not why we say that we have a consciousness?
But then What about the rebirth?
Is there a rebirth for the carnivores plant?
:thinking:
Last edited by David N. Snyder on Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: merged threads
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:42 pm

I merged a few threads as they were all dealing with plants, plant-consciousness, aggregates in plants, etc.

I saw this link in some thread recently:
mythbusters reveal no consciousness in plants

The mythbusters experiment contradicts many of the other studies in this thread. So perhaps the jury is still out?

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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby cooran » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:56 pm

Not sure if this interesting article has been included in this thread. I have one tree in New Farm Park, Brisbane that I hug most days.

http://themindunleashed.org/2013/07/tre ... cally.html

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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby Sea Turtle » Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:51 pm

Interesting article, yes. Thank you for posting.

—A fellow treehugger

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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:27 pm

Yes, according to the article there does appear to be benefits to humans hugging trees. But I wonder if that is the effects of the good thoughts and feelings in the humans, a sort of placebo type effect, just as saying metta or petting a cat or dog provides benefits.

But what does it do to the trees? In the mythbusters link I posted, boiling eggs in front of the plants registered no changes in electrical signals to the plants. It is an interesting subject since Hindus and Jains seem to accept consciousness and rebirth existing in plants, whereas Buddhists do not.

We know that all animals, even the lowest ones have 5 aggregates and are worthy of not killing or harming, but can we equate plants to this level?

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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:34 pm

SarathW: Anesthetic and Attenborough videos.


Thanks! I hadn't seen these before. Very much appreciate your efforts. :bow:
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby Dhamma_Basti » Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:30 pm

I wonder wether the name Schmithausen came up in this discussion, because I do not have the time atm to go through the whole 10 pages. If not I would be delighted to devote one afternoon in creating a summary of his idea of how plants where regarded in early buddhism. It was always a very special topic for him, and in his later years he devoted almost his whole time into the matter wether plants where regarded as full sentinent beings in early buddhism or not.
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:28 pm

A search of this topic finds the name several times

search.php?keywords=Schmithausen&t=1204&sf=msgonly
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby chownah » Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:43 am

Dhamma_Basti wrote:I wonder wether the name Schmithausen came up in this discussion, because I do not have the time atm to go through the whole 10 pages. If not I would be delighted to devote one afternoon in creating a summary of his idea of how plants where regarded in early buddhism. It was always a very special topic for him, and in his later years he devoted almost his whole time into the matter wether plants where regarded as full sentinent beings in early buddhism or not.

What do you use as a definition of "sentient"?
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby SarathW » Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:01 am

According to Abhidhamma plants have Rupa Jivitandriya (material life)
Human and animal have both Nama (mind) and Rupa Jivitandriya.
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:11 pm

My daughter is a mathematics teacher and sent me this:

http://blog.therainforestsite.com/cs-ve ... h_20160616" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Question: If a Plant is smart enough to catch an insect, which is considered sentient, why is the plant not also considered sentient? :shrug:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby padmini » Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:24 pm

This is such an interesting topic!
Being a vegan, I always wonder about this.

Then I remember a little "story":

If i was starving and someone gave me a knife and a choice: to use the knife to kill a rabbit / chicken / fish or to cut a cabbage / aubergine or other plant and eat it, what would I choose?

Definitely the plant. I wouldn't even dream about killing the animal, disembowing it and eating it.
I think most people would have my same reaction.

So I think this image tells a lot about the difference between animals and plants.
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:27 am

padmini: "Definitely the plant. I wouldn't even dream about killing the animal, disembowing it and eating it.
I think most people would have my same reaction.

So I think this image tells a lot about the difference between animals and plants."


What you have discovered is how some cultures , perhaps most, have been conditioned to reduce their respect for other species so that they can kill them without experiencing guilt for doing so. This can even apply to same species. Humans for example, in the U.S.WWII Military, where combat troops resorted to calling "the enemy" derogatory names, which dehumanize them: Japanese become "Japs", "Slopes" and "Gooks", "Tojo", "Slant Eyes" and etc. But when they happen upon their personal belongings, such as family photos, drivers licenses, letters to loved ones, their humanity comes flooding back into our minds and hearts.

There also seems to be a relationship between our willingness to kill other species based upon how annoying or how harmful they are perceived to be to us: "Birds are perceived to be lovely floating creatures as they fly above our heads, high in the sky, but are disgusting when their feces drops into our food, or on our new hat or coat." Mosquitoes are interesting flying creatures, too. But they are treated with a reactive, lethal swat (even by the admission of HHDL himself in a lecture ) when they persist in causing us pain, annoyance, or fear of Zika Virus, Bird Flu, AIDS, and etc. The same with flies, cockroaches, fire ants, termites, and many, many other animals, living creatures, humans call pests.

Folks (often even self-righteous vegans) have no problem digging-up weeds to allow their favorite flowering plants, vegetables, or fruit plants to prosper even though they are adaptively superior in every way to most other plants, except from the perspective of humans. :cry:

Something to think about. :thinking:
Last edited by Ron-The-Elder on Sat Aug 13, 2016 3:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby SarathW » Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:39 am

Folks (often even self-righteous vegans) have no problem digging-up weeds to allow their favorite flowering plants, vegetables, or fruit plants to prosper even though they are adaptively superior in every way to most other plants, except from the perspective of humans. :cry:


I wish every one think like that. Specially about landscaping. People hate weeds. They hate even the beautiful plants if they can't control them. They put a label on them called weeds.
People always complain there are lot of weeds in my garden.
I spent a fortune and lot of time to keep the garden nice and clean.
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