Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

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Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Wind » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:52 am

I know plants are not regarded as sentient beings. But I wonder if the Buddha happen to mention anything on how we should treat them? Here's a silly question: Is there bad karma from harming plants?
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Stephen K » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:40 am

"He abstains from damaging seed and plant life."

"Whereas some priests and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to damaging seed and plant life such as these — plants propagated from roots, stems, joints, buddings, and seeds — he abstains from damaging seed and plant life such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html



And:

Buddhist Monastic Code I
Chapter 8.2
Pācittiya: The Living Plant Chapter

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-2.html



Still some more:

74. Not being ill, I will not defecate, urinate, or spit on living crops: a training to be observed.

The Vinaya-mukha says that crops here includes all plants that are tended — such as in gardens, farms, or lawns — but not plants growing wild. The Commentary includes roots of living trees that appear above ground, in addition to green plants running along on top of the ground. It also notes that the Mahā Paccarī, one of the ancient commentaries on which it is based, includes blowing the nose under the term spitting in this rule and the next.

According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense if — after defecating, urinating, or spitting on a place where there are no plants — the feces, urine, or saliva then spreads to a place where there are plants (§). The Commentary adds that if a bhikkhu looking for a place without crops to do his business can't find one and is unable to hold himself in any longer, he would qualify as "ill" under this rule.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch10.html
Last edited by Stephen K on Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Sönam » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:49 am

hello Wind,

In the Digha-nikaya of the Sutta-Pitaka, in the first sutta, the Brahmajalasuttam Pathamam, Bouddha Shakyamouni explains what "common peoples" says about the Tathagata and there he says :
"5 - The Monk Gotama, refrains himself from damaging seeds and plants of all sorts"
"7 - He refrains himaself from accepting raw seeds"
"9 - If it is true that some monks and nuns, after they have eaten food received by religion, are busy then with damaging seeds and plants of all sorts, - that is to say, seeds born from a root, seeds born from a branch, seeds born from a knot, seeds born from a graft, and in fifth seeds born from seed - the Monk Gotama, him, refrains from damaging seeds and plants from all sorts"

sorry for the bad translation (from french)
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Wind » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:34 pm

In that case, would it be wrong livelihood for the loggers who chop down trees to built homes or the farmers who harvest plants for food?
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:40 pm

Wind wrote:In that case, would it be wrong livelihood for the loggers who chop down trees to built homes or the farmers who harvest plants for food?


I don't think so. If I am not mistaken, the rule about damaging plants is for monastics only, not lay people and it is not one of the 'wrong livelihoods' listed for lay people.
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:54 pm

What has been said already regarding the vinaya, the code of discipline for monks, these, although very often useful in regard to the lay precepts and understanding them, are not always best to use as a marker to how to live in the worldly life of a lay person.

I suppose from all the sources in the canon already mentioned and not, it is reasonably safe to assume that for the Buddha life was life, the perceivable sentience or lack of was not what gave it moral or ethical worth not to harm, but rather because it was alive meant that it should be treated with the same amount of appropriate respect as any other living being.

there may also be some sources of information you are looking for within one of the vegetarian threads.

may not be exactly what you are looking for but that is how I view it regarding what I have read, and I am sure others will add more relevant quotes.
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Wind » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:45 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
I don't think so. If I am not mistaken, the rule about damaging plants is for monastics only, not lay people and it is not one of the 'wrong livelihoods' listed for lay people.


Manapa wrote:What has been said already regarding the vinaya, the code of discipline for monks, these, although very often useful in regard to the lay precepts and understanding them, are not always best to use as a marker to how to live in the worldly life of a lay person.

I suppose from all the sources in the canon already mentioned and not, it is reasonably safe to assume that for the Buddha life was life, the perceivable sentience or lack of was not what gave it moral or ethical worth not to harm, but rather because it was alive meant that it should be treated with the same amount of appropriate respect as any other living being.



That's what lead to my confusion. What is good for the monks is not so for the lay people in a way not to follow their example. Like you say, for the Buddha it seems all life is respected but to have a different code of conduct for lay people seems odd. But then again, perhaps this is the middle way.
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby meindzai » Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:21 am

Keep in mind that for the Vinaya, each rule was set down one by one, usually as the result of some occurence that prompted the creation of the rule. For the rules on plants given above, I don't see that the origin story was given. Without knowing what event prompted the rule I don't think we can come to any conclusion about the Buddha's view on plants as life.

Also these rules were training rules "to be observed," and did not impose a penalty. So they seem to have more to do with conduct than bad kamma. You don't have to regard plants as sentient or semi-sentient to know that peeing on somebody's crops is unseemly conduct. Also I would that refraining from destroying seeds is a practical matter, since seeds have greater potential as plants than as seeds in their uncultivated form.

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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Mar 27, 2010 3:12 am

May also wish to keep in mind why the Buddha made those rules in the Vinaya. From memory, he said something to the effect of: "... Because people believe that there are spirits in trees."

Some rules are made because the action in question necessarily has negative states of mind behind it. But some rules were made because of the response of the monastic and / or lay communities. People had certain beliefs, and thus reacted in certain ways.

The Jainas, at least, believed that plants and trees had "life force" (jiva) in them. Thus, for them, damaging plants and trees was considered an unwholesome action. This probably reflected a generally held idea amongst much of the peoples of the (particularly Eastern) Gangetic plain.

It is not quite the same as if the Buddha said: "Because there are spirits in trees." That would be a different matter.

Somewhere around, Lambert Schmithausen wrote a good article on this question. Worth reading if you can track it down.
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Mar 27, 2010 6:35 am

Wind wrote:
That's what lead to my confusion. What is good for the monks is not so for the lay people in a way not to follow their example. Like you say, for the Buddha it seems all life is respected but to have a different code of conduct for lay people seems odd. But then again, perhaps this is the middle way.


the sangha is 4 fold, monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, all of which hopefully practice well, but not all of which have the same responsibilities. the buddha didnt require all of his students to be monks/nuns and in fact some of his great disciples were lay people, and some of those even taught the monks a thing or two. also As Bhikkhu Bodhi notes, "The Suttas and commentaries do record a few cases of lay disciples attaining the final goal of Nibbana. However, such disciples either attain Arahantship on the brink of death or enter the monastic order soon after their attainment. They do not continue to dwell at home as Arahant householders, for dwelling at home is incompatible with the state of one who has severed all craving" (In the Buddha's Words, page 376)
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:31 am

Wind wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:
I don't think so. If I am not mistaken, the rule about damaging plants is for monastics only, not lay people and it is not one of the 'wrong livelihoods' listed for lay people.


Manapa wrote:What has been said already regarding the vinaya, the code of discipline for monks, these, although very often useful in regard to the lay precepts and understanding them, are not always best to use as a marker to how to live in the worldly life of a lay person.

I suppose from all the sources in the canon already mentioned and not, it is reasonably safe to assume that for the Buddha life was life, the perceivable sentience or lack of was not what gave it moral or ethical worth not to harm, but rather because it was alive meant that it should be treated with the same amount of appropriate respect as any other living being.



That's what lead to my confusion. What is good for the monks is not so for the lay people in a way not to follow their example. Like you say, for the Buddha it seems all life is respected but to have a different code of conduct for lay people seems odd. But then again, perhaps this is the middle way.

I see this has been answered already, but Here is my take on it.
The Vinaya has two purposes, 1 - as a code of conduct 2 - as a training manual some of the rules would be both, and some only one, and it is for mendicants, those who are or are trying to, or have agreed to living the life according to the teachings and discipline full time, as many of the rules are impractical or simply inappropriate for someone not in the sangha not everyone is obliged to follow the rules, but if you are in the sangha you do, just as a company has an expectation rules and expectations of conduct and performance and standards of work for employees in different positions of trust and authority (not that the vinaya or taking up the robe and bowl gives authority specifically but it does infers a certain level.)

I personally consult the vinaya regarding the precepts, it does come in useful with some of the rules, and I see no danger in looking to the vinaya for guidance on a specific rule, such as what constitutes a theft, or harming another living being, the buddha was a practical setting the rules, although some of the rules do have a line (line in the dirt, so to speak) which could be seen as siding on the extream for a lay person, and not for a monk, because of the duel purpose as a code of conduct, and training manual some care is needed.
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Wind » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:20 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:May also wish to keep in mind why the Buddha made those rules in the Vinaya. From memory, he said something to the effect of: "... Because people believe that there are spirits in trees."


Make sense. Do you remember which Sutta was it that the Buddha made that comment? Also wasn't there a deva who lived in a tree and was complaining to the Buddha about someone harming his home.. not sure if I remember correctly.

Edit: Nevermind, Stefan's link helped. :smile:
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Sönam » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:34 am

it's true that there is specific rules for the Vinaya ...

but I remember some more than 35 years ago, when I (re)discovered the Dharma (Dhamma) I was fortunate enough to read the Dighanikaya because it did exist an old translation in french ...
And it was evident, as a first step for discipline (I had no master at that time) to follow the step of the Buddha, The Monk Gotama, so I just stop sleeping in high beds, start eating once a day, and all those things that The Monk Gotama was doing, including not eating seeds and so on ...
It became a very clarifying period, and accumulating those simple things, many things did happen in my life at that time.

just a little story ...
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Clueless Git » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:47 am

Stefan wrote:
Buddhist Monastic Code I
Chapter 8.2
Pācittiya: The Living Plant Chapter

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-2.html

That was a most interesting read - Thank you for ferreting that one out Stefan.

Many :bow: 's to everyone else for their interesting replies too.
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Clueless Git » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:54 am

Sönam wrote:it's true that there is specific rules for the Vinaya ...

but I remember some more than 35 years ago, when I (re)discovered the Dharma (Dhamma) I was fortunate enough to read the Dighanikaya because it did exist an old translation in french ...
And it was evident, as a first step for discipline (I had no master at that time) to follow the step of the Buddha, The Monk Gotama, so I just stop sleeping in high beds, start eating once a day, and all those things that The Monk Gotama was doing, including not eating seeds and so on ...
It became a very clarifying period, and accumulating those simple things, many things did happen in my life at that time.

just a little story ...
Sönam

'Lo Sonam :smile:

I would be interested to hear what those things that happened in your life at that time were.

Maybe, if you have time and inclination too, you could start a new topic in which to share them?
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Re: Did the Buddha say anything regarding plants?

Postby Sönam » Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:55 pm

Clueless Git wrote:
Sönam wrote:it's true that there is specific rules for the Vinaya ...

but I remember some more than 35 years ago, when I (re)discovered the Dharma (Dhamma) I was fortunate enough to read the Dighanikaya because it did exist an old translation in french ...
And it was evident, as a first step for discipline (I had no master at that time) to follow the step of the Buddha, The Monk Gotama, so I just stop sleeping in high beds, start eating once a day, and all those things that The Monk Gotama was doing, including not eating seeds and so on ...
It became a very clarifying period, and accumulating those simple things, many things did happen in my life at that time.

just a little story ...
Sönam

'Lo Sonam :smile:

I would be interested to hear what those things that happened in your life at that time were.

Maybe, if you have time and inclination too, you could start a new topic in which to share them?


Ho, very simple ... at that time I was "classicaly" working and living. In a couple of months all my life changes, I met new friends, land in a Spiritual Community in the "bayerish wald" (bayern forest) with "great" beings ... and all my life changes from that point.

I keep the details for my self :twothumbsup:
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