Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Where members are free to take ideas from the Theravāda Canon out of the Theravāda framework. Here you can question rebirth, kamma (and other contentious issues) as well as examine Theravāda's connection to other paths
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Fede
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Re: Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

Postby Fede » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:15 am

Mexicali wrote:Well, plants do respond to various stimuli, but I'd argue that lacking a central nervous system, there's nowhere for them to "feel" pain. Additionally, animals (including humans) evolved a pain reaction as a way to avoid harm. A plant can't usually take any direct action to avoid that harm, so the pain reaction wouldn't function the same way. I think the 'distress' plants feel is more just something that primes them to deal with later damage, etc; not pain in the way we experience it, at least not meaningfully. Admittedly, I could be dead wrong here; I haven't gotten the impression that there's a consensus one way or another.



There are some plants that have evolved certain attributes to prevent themselves from being harmed... toxic sap, prickly leaves, distasteful hairy exteriors, spines....
But I somehow doubt this was a conscious decision on the part of the plant, thinking "hah! I'll show you! I'll grow nasty spines, or taste really disgusting! that'll larn ya!!"

Lettuce is evolved and adapted(by humans) from the dandelion.
Poptatoes belong to the same botanical group as deadly nightshade.
Many of the foods we use today, are adapted from plants that in their original state we would have veered away from.
Much medication comes from plants, aspirin and digitalis to name but two....

This is how we live constructively amongst our little green chloro-friends....

just tossing something into the salad bowl....(Don't get me started on tomatoes!! :D)

:namaste:
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Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Sekha » Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:10 pm

Some rules of the patimmokkha are set to keep mindful of not harming plants. But how far are they from other beings in terms of potentiality for enlightenment? Do they have a mind? Is there transmigration for plants? Can they somehow switch to animal life? I guess we could find cases of living beings about which it is difficult to decide whether they belong to the animal or to the vegetal reign... what do you think?
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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby bodom » Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:25 pm

“What should be done for his disciples out of compassion by a teacher who seeks their welfare and has compassion for them, that I have done for you, bhikkhus. There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not delay or else you will regret it later. This is our instruction to you.” - MN 19

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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Sekha » Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:02 pm

:anjali:
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Paul Davy » Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Greetings Dukkhanirodha ,

SN 23.2: Satta Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Ven. Radha went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

"Just as when boys or girls are playing with little sand castles: as long as they are not free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, that's how long they have fun with those sand castles, enjoy them, treasure them, feel possessive of them. But when they become free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, then they smash them, scatter them, demolish them with their hands or feet and make them unfit for play.

"In the same way, Radha, you too should smash, scatter, & demolish form, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for form.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish feeling, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for feeling.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish perception, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for perception.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish fabrications, and make them unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for fabrications.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish consciousness and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for consciousness — for the ending of craving, Radha, is Unbinding."


Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"Whether I were to preach in brief, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach in detail, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach both in brief or in detail, Sāriputta, rare are those who understand." (A I 333, Sāriputtasutta)

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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Sekha » Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:40 pm

thank you
:anjali:
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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Clueless Git » Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:40 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:I guess we could find cases of living beings about which it is difficult to decide whether they belong to the animal or to the vegetal reign... what do you think?

'Lo Dukkhanirodha :smile:

I think it is hard enough to avoid harming that which CLEARLY belongs to the animal domain to make worrying about fine divides quite irrelevant.

Actualy I would go a bit further ...

There is a potential danger in worrying about the fine divides. It can lead to a mindset which goes something along the lines of this:

1. We cannot be sure that stuff which we cannot avoid harming (killing bacteria as we bathe, etc) does not belong in the animal domain.

ergo ..

2. There is no 'real' difference twix taking a bath and slaughtering a herd of cows.

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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Sekha » Sun Apr 11, 2010 11:50 am

I understand, but the point for me was rather to know whether a particular being has a chance to become enlightened some time in the future or not.
:anjali:
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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby chownah » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:59 pm

Could it be possible that the Buddha prohibits monks from harming plant because having monks going around damaging plants (some of which were planted and tended even though it might not be obvious to a monk) would be a nuisance to a person or community and in general set a bad example for everyone in general and have nothing to do with plants having a potential to do anything?
chownah

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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Stuart » Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:28 pm

Dukkhanirodha wrote:I understand, but the point for me was rather to know whether a particular being has a chance to become enlightened some time in the future or not.
:anjali:


Hi Dukkhanirodha :anjali:

I think that the idea that a "being" :quote: becomes enlightened may be a misunderstanding. There is certainly the enlightenment process, and we should encourage those "things" that are conducive to the process (The Noble Eightfold Path) wherever we see them enacted - either internally or externally, but to think that there is "one" who becomes enlightened is just a convention - all misconceived notions of "self" have been eliminated at enlightenment.

Part of the enlightenment process, as I understand it, is to recognize this.

Stuart
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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Stuart » Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:44 pm

chownah wrote:Could it be possible that the Buddha prohibits monks from harming plant because having monks going around damaging plants (some of which were planted and tended even though it might not be obvious to a monk) would be a nuisance to a person or community and in general set a bad example for everyone in general and have nothing to do with plants having a potential to do anything?
chownah

chownah :anjali:

Yes maybe so, and also, maybe because plants are the homes and refuge for insects and birds and all sorts of animals. There is certainly mayhem in the rodent community in the aftermath of harvesting. Interdependence between the animal world and the plant world appears to be very important.

Stuart
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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Mukunda » Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:59 pm

Stuart wrote:I think that the idea that a "being" :quote: becomes enlightened may be a misunderstanding.


And to think that there is not a being who becomes enlightened is an equal misunderstanding.

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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby meindzai » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:13 pm

Stuart wrote:
chownah wrote:Could it be possible that the Buddha prohibits monks from harming plant because having monks going around damaging plants (some of which were planted and tended even though it might not be obvious to a monk) would be a nuisance to a person or community and in general set a bad example for everyone in general and have nothing to do with plants having a potential to do anything?
chownah

chownah :anjali:

Yes maybe so, and also, maybe because plants are the homes and refuge for insects and birds and all sorts of animals. There is certainly mayhem in the rodent community in the aftermath of harvesting. Interdependence between the animal world and the plant world appears to be very important.

Stuart
xxx


Agree and agree.

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Re: Place of plants in the order of beings

Postby Stuart » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:21 pm

Mukunda wrote:
Stuart wrote:I think that the idea that a "being" :quote: becomes enlightened may be a misunderstanding.


And to think that there is not a being who becomes enlightened is an equal misunderstanding.

:anjali:
Indeed - the problem, as always, is becoming ...

Stuart
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Plant Life

Postby Parth » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:00 pm

Have a doubt, where does the plant life figure in the rebirth cycle. Plant life does not seem to have been covered in any of the 32 realms of existence.

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Parth

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Upasaka Sumana » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:01 pm

Plants are not sentient beings, because they do not have consciousness.

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.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... toend.html
Metta,
Sumana

Rather light a candle than complain about darkness.
~Chinese proverb


The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
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Think not lightly of evil, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil.
Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.

~Dhp. 121-122

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Re: Plant Life

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:18 pm

Hello parth,

The Abhidhamma explores this matter further. Read about Jivita-indriya (life faculty) here:
http://www.phathue.com/buddhism/dharma- ... ipa-day-5/

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:17 pm

parth wrote:Have a doubt, where does the plant life figure in the rebirth cycle. Plant life does not seem to have been covered in any of the 32 realms of existence.

Regards
Parth


Hi, Parth.

Have done extensive research into this question and came to the conclusion that early Buddhists did not truly appreciate the various capacities of plants which caused them to arrive at the conclusion that plants are not sentient.

Buddha allowed for protection of certain plants, but it appears only for the reason that such plants are homes or residences for sentient life forms such as creatures of the forest, including devas and various gods. Buddha also required that followers avoid damaging crops of farmers, not for the sake of protecting the plant, but because the farmers' yields would be affected.

Today we understand that various plant species have abilities not previously understood:

Self preservation: Plants emit toxins to keep bugs and animals from devouring them.

Enter Into Symbiotic Relationships: Many plants have complex relationships with various insects, which collect nectar from the plant and in exchange carry pollen from male to female plants in the process of pollination.

My favorite in this regard is relationship between the African fire ant and the Acacia tree. The fire ant protects the trees from larger herbivores in exchange for a sticky sweet substance which the ant collects for its nutritional needs.

Movement Some plants move in protection of their limbs, leaves and branches. Some plants, which rely upon animal proteins and fats for sustenance move in response to actuation of triggers in order to trap small animals and insects. Some plants have evolved slippery surfaces and inescapable bowls with pits filled with digestive enzymes to make the nutrients from the insects that fell therein to be digested.

Plants have long been known to be photo-philes and and photo-taxic, meaning that they can reorient themselves to maximize photon impingement due to radiation from our local star, The Sun, to ensure efficient photosynthetic processes.

Communications: Plants, like ourselves and other sentient animal organisms, have the ability to communicate. Plants do this both chemically and chemo-electrically

Mutational Adaptive Specialization Plants, like animals, have been modified genetically to adapt to varying conditions due to environmental pressures such a predation, competition, and changing environmental conditions such as heat, pressure, wind, water availability and etc..

Because I have spent so much time in the past discussing and debating this topic I have given up trying to persuade others that plants should be treated with as much respect as any animal life-form. While plants "may not" meet the criteria of sapience and sentience by human definitions, they do add enormously to our quality of life, and in reality we could not exist without them as we have evolved on this planet. Certainly there are life-forms which have adapted to sulfurous gases near volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean, here in New Hampshire we rely on plants for much of the food that we eat, the materials from which our homes are built, the clothing that we wear, and even for the oxygen in the air that we breathe.

Therefore, I hereby submit my vote to allow plants to join the sentient community of life-forms on this planet. :group:
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: Plant Life

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:33 pm

Hello Ron,

Slightly exaggerated example. I go through automatic doors when entering my work place They are triggered by my footsteps on the mat in front of them. I have never felt that this means they are 'beings' or that I could be reborn as an automatic door. Certainly plants are alive, like bacteria, but according to the Teachings we cannot be re-born as one. Similarly we cannot be re-born as a cabbage or a tomato plant.

Best to stick with what the Buddha taught - a Sammasambuddha.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:08 am

Dear Ron-The-Elder,

thanks for sharing your explanations and do not give up! The issue is most important for our self (the human family).
There are indeed factors which makes one to be called an elder.

_/\_

Dear friends,

so a plant comes to "existence" out of which reason?
I guess it does not exist out of it self.

Well it can not argue, scream or hurt like other beings but just as I had observed by my self I could not call them mindless. I would not bet on it that there is a second circle of life which is special for plants, but maybe a higher realm :-)
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_


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