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
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 9458
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Plants in Buddhism - Idea of B. Nature of Grasses an Trees

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:21 pm

Hanzze wrote:The problem of the Sentience of Plants in Early Buddhism by Lambert Schmidthausen 1991


That looks interesting. Until I get the time to read the whole book, can you tell me what his conclusions were? Is there evidence that the early Buddhists felt that plants had sentience and it was the later commentators that placed the line at the Animal Kingdom (humans, animals with sentience, not plants) ?

User avatar
Hanzze
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Plants in Buddhism - Idea of B. Nature of Grasses an Trees

Postby Hanzze » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:53 am

Dear David, no, I did not really read those books (I am not so a fan of lots of information) but as far as I had seen they are a good work and a very rare approach to usual commentaries. Schmithausen as far as I read, had started long time ago, to give commentaries about plants and it seems that he feels a very need to correct his early interpretations. This looks like the first work of him into the direction of plants being part of the wheel of Samsara. The last book (1st post) also includes aspects from other traditions.

Especially today, I guess it is very important to correct some views as some older tendencies would make the pratice and the disire to escape from the wheel useless at least. It made me very happy to came accross it some times ago.

I guess it's worthy to give it a read, especiall if one is/was used to orientate amoung commentaries.
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 _()_

User avatar
Hanzze
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Plants in Buddhism - Idea of B. Nature of Grasses an Trees

Postby Hanzze » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:15 am

In regard of the first quote Book:

Reconsidering the Status of Plants
in Early Buddhism

1. Plants as a Borderline Case between Sentient and Insentient

1. As is well known, in the course of doctrinal consolidation, Indian Buddhist thinkers, or at any rate non-Tantric Indian Buddhist thinkers, in contrast to the J ains and a strong current of Hindu thought,l came
to regard plants (and seeds) as insentient beings, not participating in the process of reiterated individual rebirth (sarhsiira).2 This does not necessarily exclude that plants are somehow recognized as living things in the context of everyday conceptions.3 But on the doctrinal level they came to be strictly distinguished from living beings ptoper, i.e., from sentient beings, beings "capable of sensation and of at least rudimentary consciousness",4 especially in the form of experiencing, somehow, pleasure and/or pain. And it is, as far as I can see, sentience, or sentient life, that is ethically relevant in the early Indian context.5 It is sentient living beings that are, in Buddhism as well as in Jainism, the object of the basic commitment not to kill or injure animate beings (palJa, pralJint7 This is evident from the Indian formulations of the Golden Rule according to which one should not kill or hurt other beings because they are afraid of death and dislike pain just as oneself.s It even seems to me that in early Indian thought life and sentience almost9 coincide. In early canonical Buddhism, the presence of sensitivity (vififiiilJa)10 in the body guarantees both life and sentience. In doctrinally consolidated Buddhism, there is even atendency to disregard the peculiar features of vegetal life and put plants on a par with the mineral world. At any rate, when arguments against the sentience orin favour of the insentience of plants are produced, Buddhist philosophers, like Bhavya (Bhaviveka), tend to play down the features plants have in common with man and animals and to emphasize the distinguishing features, which bring them closer to the inanimate world.

2. In a small monograph, published hearly 20 years ago (SCHMITHAUSEN 1991a), I tried to find out whether this denial of the sentience of plants in the consolidated doctrinal position of later Buddhist authors
could be traced back to the early period. In other words, did Buddhism from the outset discard the view, apparently quite common at that time,12 that plants, too, are sentient beings, or did this happen
only later, in the course of time? As far as I know, the canonical texts of early Buddhism do not contain any specific discussion of the matter or any explicit doctrinal statement in either direction: there is neither any express assertion in the form "plants are sentient beings" nor a straightforward denial stating that they are not. The latter fact is, by the way, also expressly recognized by the Sarvastivada master Sanghabhadra when he asks the rhetorical question: "Where in the Scriptures is it clearly and unambiguously taught that trees, etc., do not have [sentient] life?" 13

3. Still, a few passages, mainly in comparatively old verse texts, de Jacto include plants among animate beings (piilJ-a) , thus almost certainly presupposing their sentience. The most indubitable one is found in the Viisettha-sutta of the Suttanipiita/4 which in the context of classifying the species of animate beings starts with "grasses and trees" (tilJ-arukkha). To be sure, the main purport of this text is not to offer a classification of animate beings but to demonstrate the unnaturalness of caste distinction by contrasting it with the verifiable distinctiveness of biological species or classes. 15 But even so it includes plants, as a matter of course, among animate beings. Other passages speak of mobile (tasa) and stationary (thiivara) beings, occasionally expressly animate beings, which one should not kill or injure but rather include in one's cultivation of benevolence.16 The "mobile and stationary animate beings" (Skt. trasa and sthiivara) are well known from early Jaina and also Hindu sources/7 and there the stationary animate 'beings are, in the first place, the plants, or plants and seeds. It is hard to believe that in the early times the authors or reciters of the verses, -simply using this expression without any indication of a departure from the current meaning, understood it in a different sense. IS

4. Whereas the passages adduced thus far obviously presuppose, or take for granted, that plants, too, are living and hence, in the context of the ascetic movement and its preoccupations, somehow sentient beings, there are other materials that require a more careful assessment. One of these is the Katadanta-sutta of the Dfghanikiiya,19 where a kind of ideal sacrifice, arranged by a king of the past, is described. In this sacrifice the only offerings were things like butter, curds and molasses; no cattle were killed (hafifiirhsu), no animals (piil}a) slain (iighiitarh iipajjirhsu), no trees felled (chijjirhsu) for the sake of using them as sacrificial posts, and no darbha grass was cut (layirhsu) to strew over the sacrificial ground. According to a couple of other sermons/ a sacrifices performed by kings or brahmins were, normally, characterized by exactly these actions of slaughtering animals, felling trees and cutting grasses. It is clear from the differentiating, terminology that the texts somehow distinguish between killing animals and destroying plants. But even so they seem to regard destroying plants at any rate in the context of a religious ceremony - as unwholesome karma, a judgement that from an early Indian viewpoint hardly makes sense unless plants were presupposed to be, somehow, sentient beings. It cannot, perhaps, be excluded that the text merely argues from the point of view of the Vedic ritualists for whom plants, too, were indeed living, sentient beings.21 But there is no proof for such a kind of argumentation either. Significantly, the reference to trees and grasses is missing in the extant versions of other schools.22 It is hard to imagine a reason why the Theravada redactors should have inserted the reference to trees and grasses. It would seem to make more sense to assume that the reference was capcelled in the other versions because its implication, the sentience of plants, was felt incompatible with the consolidated Buddhist doctrinal position.

5. Another important issue concerns the rules of behaviour for monks (and nuns, by way of implication). In a number of sermons, the basic principles of correct behaviour start with "abstention from killing any animate being (P( r )a"(uitipCita ). The basic rules are often followed by a succinct set of mainly ascetic observances, the first of which is, in the Theravada tradition, "abstention from violent treatment (samarambha) of seeds and plants (bljagama-bhutagama)", a formulation that is also found at the beginning of another, much more elaborate set of guidelines for the proper behaviour of Buddhist ascetics? As in the Kutadanta-sutta, in these passages, too, the separate registering of "killing animate beings" and "violent treatment of seeds and plants" seems to indicate awareness of a certain difference between humans and animals on the one hand and seeds and plants on the other. But the verbal noun used in connection with seeds and plants, viz., samarambha ("violent treatment"), though certainly less specific than atipCita ("killing"), is occasionally also used for slaughtering cattle (Sn 311), and in early Jaina sources (sam)a-rabh- is closely associated with committing acts of violence26 against any kind of living, sentient beings, including plants and seeds. Hence, though registered separately and thus clearly distinguished from humans and animals, plants and seeds may not yet have been regarded as being entirely excluded from the realm of sentient beings. Actually, in Jaina sources, too, the term "animate beings" (palJa) is not infrequently reserved for humans and animals (i.e., used in the narrower sense of "breathing beings"), in spite of the fact that seeds and plants are asserted to be living and even sentient as well.

6. In connection with killing or injuring, a similar distinction between humans and animals on the one hand and plants (and seeds) on the other is also found in the code of monastic discipline, the Patimokkhasutta, which seems to be a more developed collection of rules than the succinct set of ascetic observances in the sermons discussed in the preceding paragraph.28 In the Patimokkhasutta of the Theravada school as well as in the preserved Pratimok!jasutras of other schools, monks (and nuns) are prohibited from killing animals as well as from destroying plants (and seeds)29, but only animals are termed "animate beings" (palJa: Pacittiya 61) - humans are treated separately because killing a human being is a more serious offence according to the criteria of the Vinaya (Parajika 3). Moreover, in contradistinction to the killing of an animal which is called "depriving it of its life" (jfvitavoropeti) - which is the same term the text had also used for killing a human -, in the case of plants the Theravada version (Pacittiya 11) uses the archaic term patavyata, probably meaning something like "uncontrolled, ruthless behaviour".30 Other versions show the same contrast but have replaced the obscure term piitavyatii by piitana "felling", "destroying".31 One may be tempted to deduce from this termiri.ological difference that in this text plants are no longer considered to have life (jfvita), or are at any rate regarded to be a doubtfu1 case. One might argue that from a moral point of view the rule that at least monks (and nuns) should not behave ruthlessly towards plants just as they should not behave ruthlessly towards animate beings (i.e., animals)32 would make much better sense if plants, too, were somehow living, sentient beings. However, the Vinaya is not so much concerned with morality (much less than the rules for monks referred to in the preceding paragraph) as with preserving harmony within the Order and, above all, its reputation in society.33 Hence, the rule may as well merely take into account views or expectations prevalent among the people of the time or possible criticism from rival groups.

7. Since so far no consensus has been reached with regard to a detailed stratification of the (earlier) canonical texts, the evidence presented above may admit of different hypothetical explanations. If one is of the opinion that the verse texts referred to in § 3 represent the oldest stratum of the Buddhist textual heritage, one might conclude that in earliest Buddhism acceptance of the sentience of plants was still a matter of course. If these texts are instead regarded as a more popular, doctrinally less rigid strand, one might interpret them as borrowings from pre- or non-Buddhi~t ascetic poetry, borrowings which need not exactly represent the Buddhist view on plants, which might, in this case, have been more reserved from the outset. In any case, the above-mentioned evidence, together with the lack of fully explicit doctrinal statements in either direction, seems to exclude the existence of a clear-cut, binding dogmatic position with regard to the sentience of plants in earliest Buddhism. My own suggestion34 was that plants (and seeds) were probably regarded as a kind of borderline case, on the boundary between sentient and insentient beings, and that a theoretical, doctrinal decision with regard to their status was not found necessary, or was even deliberately avoided. As a borderline case, plants (and seeds) could be dealt with pragmatically. In the context of developing a mental attitude of all-encompassing peacefulness or benevolence towards all animate beings, e.g., it made good sense to include even borderline beings, or at least no need was felt to cancel a reference to them if it was part of an inherited formulation. In connection with rules or guidelines for physical behaviour, however, it was useful to make distinctions in order to underline the difference. Thus, the separate mention of refraining from injuring plants (or seeds and plants) in the case ofa monk's correct behaviour is intended to make clear that monks (and nuns) are expected to avoid violence even against borderline beings, whereas in the case of lay followers the lack of such an additional rule35 makes tacit allowance for - the fact that such a requirement would render their life impracticable.


2. Alternative Proposals


8. Since the publication of my study, several scholars have taken up the issue of the sentience of plants in earliest Buddhism, pointing out further pertinent source material but partly also proposing diverging interpretations of the evidence. Of particular interest I find, apart from most valuable supplements contributed by Nalini BALBIR (2000), two articles by Mamiko OKADA (1998 and 1999),37 a paper by Ellison Banks FlNDL Y (2002) as well as her recently published book on Plant Lives (FINDL Y 2008), in which the ideas of her paper have been fully developed and integrated into a broader perspective, and, finally, an article by A.kira FUJIMOTO (2003).38

9. OKADA admits that in the Northern tradition and in Mahayana sources plants are on the whole not regarded as living, sentient beings, but she thinks that in earlier and Theravada Buddhism they were considered to be living beings with at least one sense-faculty (ekindriya), viz., the sense of touch.40 She substantiates her view by means of an exhaustive and most valuable examination of the Jiitakil literature. As she points out, she could not find any Jiitakas where the Bodhisatta is reborn as a plant,41 but in the PaIi Jiitaka collection there are quite a few stories describing him as having assumed rebirth as a plant deity (mostly, but not exclusively, as a tree deity).42 Although the relationship of the deity to the tree is usually that of an inhabitant to his abode, so that the deity is able to move to another tree in case of emergency, OKADA presents three cases where the cutting of the tree is regarded as entailing the death of the deity.43 In these cases, the relationship between the deity and the tree is obviously much closer, looking more like that between a tree-spirit or tree-soul and its - body.44 It seems that OKADA considers this relationship to be the genuine one and that she takes it as additional support for her assumption that in earlier and Theravada Buddhism plants were considered sentient.45 In this way, the potential for becoming a Buddhaattributed to tree or plant deities by virtue of their identification with
the Bodhisatta46 would,practically, accrue to the trees or plants themselves. It is all the more remarkable in this connection that OKADA herself observes that in the narrative literature of the Northern tradition stories in which a tree deity, not to consider a tree, is equated with the Bodhisattva seem to be entirely missing.47

10.1 FINDLY, too, though accepting my suggestion that in earliest Buddhism plants were treated as a kind of borderline beings, assumes a standpoint different from that presented in my analysis in taking, like OKADA, early Buddhists to have shared the view that plants are living beings with one sense-faculty (ekindriya jlva) , viz., the sense of touch (252a; 254a!124; 165; 253; 369),48 and that they are thus sen~tient (252b /370). She tries to support this idea by adducing further evidence from the canonical texts for the assumption that plants were indeed regarded, by the early Buddhists, to be sentient beings (satta) endowed with the sense of touch (256a-257a /127 f; 130-i33; 136-142; 183).

10.2. However, FINDLY does not stop here. She rather suggests that the sense of touch somehow implies or includes the other sense faculties. Touch is "the one sense faculty that pervades all the others" and underlies them as the "base sense serving as the foundation of the other four" (2008: 144) or as the "foundation of all reception of sense data" (2008: 147), to the extent that "at base there is only one sense organ, that of the skin" (257b /142-165). By these assumptions, she tries to make sure that the sense of touch in plants is sufficient to establish contact (phassa) between sense organ(s) and objects, involving consciousness (vififia]Ja: 260a/l47; 151; 153 f; 227 f) and entailingfeeling (vedana) or experience of pleasure and/or pain (260a jl55-160) in the sense of the twelve-linked formula of origination independence (paticcasamuppada) (258a /161). Consequently, plants should, in spite of what textual evidence suggests (2008: 209), by implication (2008: 227) also be considered as subject to ignorance, desire, and attachment (258a /161), and hence to participate in the process of kamma-directed rebirth in the samsaric cycle (258a /207 ff, esp.223 f and 227-229), including having the capacity to develop (2008:•161), even spiritually (2008: 162; 165). In this connection, FINDLY suggests that since 'kaya' is used for both the faculty of touch and the body as one of "the three channels by which kamma is made" and since "such dual usages are not ordinarily coincidental", it would seem that plants being endowed with kaya would also be kammaproducing (258a-b /223). Though FrNDL Y herself seems to have some doubt about this conclusion, conceding that "early Buddhists do not admit to kammic endowment in plants" (259a), she nonetheless suggests that they could not but recognize somekamma-like features in plants, viz., "that they grow luxuriantly with constant change and variety, and that they have ongoing lineages like human families"• in the form of the seed-plant-seed-plant sequence (259b /230 f).

10.3: As an alternative, FlNDLY then proposes to integrate plants into the samsaric scheme as a form of rebirth where karma is,omy consumed but not accumulated (259b /231; 233 f; 252).49This, she continues, need not mean that they are lowly beings reborn in a state of "darkness" (tamas) - inertia, stagnation, helpless suffering – duy to previous bad karma, as in J ainism and some Hindu sources (261 a/158 f; 195-198; 230; 234 f). She rather suggests placing them at the top: "The critical location in early Buddhism where a sentient being does not accumulate kamma ... , but does consume it, is the postnibblina and pre-parinibblina stage, when the adept is unable to beget new kamma, but is still living out the residue of old" (259b-260a/234 f; 254). What she thus describes is, in other words, the state of an arhat. F'INDL Y thus proposes to understand plants in early Buddhism as liberated, A wakened beings, spontaneously bountiful and compassionate (2008: 253 f; 360 f). ill order to render her hypothesis plausible, she refers to "some East Asian Buddhists who not amy believe plants to be sentient beings, but who ... describe plants as of a sattvic nature, and as beings who have already reached enlightenment (261 b /248; 253; 262-264 n. 202). ill support of her suggestion that a similar view "may be present already for early forms of Buddhism" (263a /248 f), she points to three aspects of the treatment of plants in early Buddhist texts. First, "the centrality of renunciants dwelling at the root of trees" (262a/237; 242-244), second "the use of trees in metaphors for spiritual growth" or models of ascetic behavior (262a-b 1237; 245-247; 250), and third the fact that plants are referred to as thiivara, which means "stationary" in the first place but is interpreted in the sense of spiritual ahd emotional stability in the commentaries (262b /248 f). In this connection, FINDL Y also points to the analogy between plants as stationary beings and the immobility and inactivity of the advanced Jain ascetic (263a /249). Thus, for FINDL Y, plants may, to be sure, be called a "borderline case", but not necessarily in the sense of rudimentary beings of doubtful sentience; rather, they are at the upper end of the scale, "so advanced that they no longer move about and need only dissipate a few kammic remains before final enlightenment50" (263b 1254).

11. FUJIMOTO, in an interesting attempt to clarify the position of plants in early and Theravada Buddhism, seems to take for granted that already in early canonical Buddhism plants are de facto regarded as insentient and not participating in karma-conditioned sarhsara (87,12-16).51 At the same time, he stresses the fact that monks are prohibited from injuring them just as they are from injuring animals, both being piJ.cittiya offences (93,4-5; 102,4-6). He admits 52 that there is no explicit statement in the Sutta- and Vinayapitaka according to which this is based on the fact that seeds and growing plants, too, are regarded as living beings (90,3-4; 93,9-14). But he tries to prove that, according to the Theravada Abhidhamma, plants, although insentient, i.e., lacking sense-faculties and mind, are nevertheless living beings because of being endowed with material life-faculty (ntpa-jlvitindriya:96,16 ff; 101,14-16), just like the so-called unconscious heavenly beings (asanna-satta: 96,22 ff, esp. 97,3-5). It is, according to FUJIMOTO, on this view (which he thus takes to have been a tacit assumption in the earlier period as well) that the prohibition to injure seeds and plants (102,4-8) as well as their inclusion into the cultivation of benevolence towards all living beings in the Metta-sutta of the Sutta-nipiita (102,11 ff) is based. According to him, what is ethically,relevant is thus not sentience but life, and life is not more or less coincident with sentience, not even in earliest Buddhism. And instead of having a precarious borderline status between sentient and insentient,plants have an unambiguous nature: they are insentient but living organisms (101,10-17).

12. Though very much appreciative of the above-mentioned publications as stimulating and sympathetic contributions, I still cannot help having some doubts with regard to the conclusions and to the arguments adduced in support. Since progress and clarification in research takes place through critical discussion, allow me to reconsider the matter.
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 _()_

SarathW
Posts: 6193
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby SarathW » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:35 pm

The way I understand is that plants possess Rupa and Some form of Vedana and Jivithandriya (life) not conditioned by Kamma. The five aggregate has a dependent origination. Does it mean Citta is dormant in plants?
I have the same question in regards to bacteria as well. Do bacteria possess five aggregare?
Last edited by SarathW on Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Paul Davy
Posts: 16216
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby Paul Davy » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:59 pm

Greetings Sarath,

This recent exploration will provide some thoughts that may assist you in your inquiry...

Aggregate?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=13485

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Having understood name-and-form, which is a product of prolificity,
And which is the root of all malady within and without,
He is released from bondage to the root of all maladies,
That Such-like-one is truly known as 'the one who has understood'."
(Snp 3.6)

"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)

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1116
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby reflection » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:04 pm

I don't know.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 13442
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:13 pm

Hi Sarah,

This is an interesting question. Perhaps it would be useful to look at some Suttas that mention internal and external aggregates and elements.

SN 22.48 Khandha Sutta: Aggregates
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the form aggregate.
...
"Whatever form — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: That is called the form clinging-aggregate.
...


MN 62 Maha-Rahulovada Sutta: The Greater Exhortation to Rahula
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"And what is the earth property [commonly translated as "element"]? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property?[3] Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, and sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property & the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property fade from the mind.


:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
BubbaBuddhist
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Contact:

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:34 pm

As I understand it, plants are mentioned as "one factored" life forms. In the monastic code it says:


"People criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can these Sakyan-son monks cut down trees and have them cut down? They are mistreating one-facultied life.'"

Object. The Pali term for living plant — bhūtagāma — literally means the home of a being. This the Sub-commentary explains by saying that devatās may take up residence in plants standing in place by means of a longing on which their consciousness fastens (at the end of their previous lives) as in a dream. This rule is justified, it says, in that the etiquette of a contemplative precludes doing harm to the abodes of living beings. As the origin story shows, though, the reason this rule was laid down in the first place was to prevent bhikkhus from offending people who held to the animist belief that regarded plants as one-facultied life having the sense of touch.


BB
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6205
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:44 pm

BubbaBuddhist wrote:As I understand it, plants are mentioned as "one factored" life forms. In the monastic code it says:


"People criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can these Sakyan-son monks cut down trees and have them cut down? They are mistreating one-facultied life.'"

Object. The Pali term for living plant — bhūtagāma — literally means the home of a being. This the Sub-commentary explains by saying that devatās may take up residence in plants standing in place by means of a longing on which their consciousness fastens (at the end of their previous lives) as in a dream. This rule is justified, it says, in that the etiquette of a contemplative precludes doing harm to the abodes of living beings. As the origin story shows, though, the reason this rule was laid down in the first place was to prevent bhikkhus from offending people who held to the animist belief that regarded plants as one-facultied life having the sense of touch.


BB

I don't believe that is the same as the agregates, I may be wrong, but ....
“Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.
(The mendicants asked) What are the two [types of persons]?
(The Lord Buddha responded) The malicious, or the inwardly angry, and the one with (blind) faith or the one who holds things incorrectly.
Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.”
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.
"Others will misconstrue reality based on personal perspectives, firmly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our personal perspectives, nor firmly holding them, but easily discarded."

User avatar
appicchato
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby appicchato » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:06 am

While agreeing that plants do have (physical) form, I find it a bit of a stretch (actually a large one) to think that they possess feelings, perception, (certainly) mental formations, nor consciousness...this being a purely personal perspective though...an aggregate, yes...five, nay...

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8433
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby cooran » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:39 am

Hello all,

An assortment of information for your delectation:

Plants ~ Borderline Beings?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1204
Plant Life
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=6822

From the Patimokkha, suddhapaacittiyaa, The Section about plant beings, 11:

"In causing damage to plant beings there is an offence entailing
expiation."

From SuttaVibhanga (Horner transl), the account leading up to this rule is
given:

"....at Alavi in the chief shrine at Alavi. Now at that time the monks of
Alavi, making repairs, were cutting down trees and having them cut down;
and a certain monk of Alavi cut down a tree, and the devata living in that
tree said to this monk:

"Do not, honoured sir, desiring to make an abode for yourself, cut down my
abode."

This monk, taking no notice, cut it down, and in doing so, struck the arm
of that devata's son. Then it occurred to that devata:

"What now if I, just here, should deprive this monk of life?" Then it
occurred to that devata:

"But this would not be suiting in me, that I were, just here, to deprive
this monk of life. What now if I were to tell this matter to the lord?"

Then this devata approached the lord, and having approached she told this
matter to the lord.

"Very good, devata, it is good that you, devata, did not deprive this monk
of life. If today you, devata, had deprived this monk of life, you,
devata, would also have produced much demerit. You go, devata; in a
certain place there is a solitary tree, go you into it."

People looked down upon, criticised, spread it about, saying:

"How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, cut down trees and have them
cut down? These recluses, sons of the Sakyans, are harming life that is
one-facultied." Monks heard these people who looked down upon, criticised,
spread it about. Those who were modest monks looked down upon, criticised,
spread it about, saying:

"How can these monks of Alavi cut down trees and have them cut down?"....

"Is it true, as is said, that you, monks, cut down trees and had them cut
down?"

"It is true, lord," they said.

The enlightened one, the lord, rebuked them, saying:

"How can you, foolish men, cut down trees and have them cut down? Is it
not, foolish men, for pleasing those who are not (yet) pleased.....And
thus, monks, this rule of training should be set forth:

For destruction of vegetable growth there is an offence of expiation."
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/66737
.....................
From Ajahn Dhammanando:

Hi all,

This is a re-post as the formatting of the last one was a mess.

> Connie: "For people believe, O Bhikkhus, that life dwells in a tree."

This is the key point. The belief that plants and the earth possess one
faculty (either kaayindriya or jiivitindriya) was held by the
Niga.n.thas (Jains) and acelakas (non-affiliated naked ascetics); since
these were the largest and oldest sama.na groups at that time, their
beliefs had passed into common lore and so any sama.na worth his salt
was expected to conform to them (by keeping the rains retreat so as not
to tread on growing crops, by not digging the earth or damaging plants,
and by taking various precautions when building a hut). But nowhere
does the Buddha actually concede that these beliefs were correct and in
the Vinaya commentaries they are dismissed as "mere imagining".

Best wishes,
Dhammanando
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/69259

Plants in Early Buddhism and the Far Eastern idea of the Buddha Nature of Grasses and Trees
http://www.scribd.com/doc/47341101/Plan ... -and-Trees

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 ---

User avatar
DAWN
Posts: 801
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:22 pm

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby DAWN » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:00 am

Plats have consciosness.
Why?

Because for eating some insects but not others you have to get information obout them, to know them, to be conscioss about them, to adoptate yourself.
Image

Actualy scientist know too, that plants can even comunicate with oher plants by some chimical process, trasmeting information, and get information.
Image

Also, for exemple, sun flower have a conscious of sun to folow it.
Image

Every living form have a consciossness and self consciosness. Of corse it's anatta, like us.

PS For exemple i dont eat any fresh fruit, or other not cooked food, i cant do it.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

User avatar
DAWN
Posts: 801
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:22 pm

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby DAWN » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:11 am

Just for fun :)
Image
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 1803
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby robertk » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:08 am

plants are purely rupa.

User avatar
DAWN
Posts: 801
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:22 pm

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby DAWN » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:25 am

robertk wrote:plants are purely rupa.


Rupa which eat, sharing information, and want to survive by procreation.

Like us :smile: It's true
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

User avatar
acinteyyo
Posts: 1642
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:48 am
Location: Bavaria / Germany

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:56 pm

SarathW wrote:The way I understand is that plants possess Rupa and Some form of Vedana and Jivithandriya (life) not conditioned by Kamma. The five aggregate has a dependent origination. Does it mean Citta is dormant in plants?
I have the same question in regards to bacteria as well. Do bacteria possess five aggregare?

I don't want to be a nitpicker but I think this is not a proper question. The aggregates are not possessed by anything. Neither plants nor human beings "possess" aggregates.
mikenz66 wrote:Hi Sarah,

This is an interesting question. Perhaps it would be useful to look at some Suttas that mention internal and external aggregates and elements.

SN 22.48 Khandha Sutta: Aggregates
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the form aggregate.
...
"Whatever form — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: That is called the form clinging-aggregate.
...


MN 62 Maha-Rahulovada Sutta: The Greater Exhortation to Rahula
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"And what is the earth property [commonly translated as "element"]? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property?[3] Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, and sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property & the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property fade from the mind.


:anjali:
Mike

:goodpost:
What can be experienced can be grouped as the different aggregates but it would be a misunderstanding to say this or that group belongs to the experienced phenomena, it's the other way round!
I wouldn't say plants or human beings have rupa but of plants and human beings anything that's hard, solid & sustained, internal or external is simply the earth property and that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: "This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self."

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, Aware and mindful.

User avatar
BubbaBuddhist
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Contact:

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:11 pm

As I recall (often in my nightmares) this very conversation went on for about a million pages on e-Sangha. The thread was replete with all kinds of Newage trying to make an argument that plant life was a form of sentient-being realm wherein rebirth was possible. Oiy. :reading: <---in over 2.5 decades of perusing the Nikayas and supplementary materials I've never come across a single reference of the Buddha saying anything about the plant realm or anyone rebirthing as a tomato. Lots of references to tree devas though.

If so, may I be reborn as a mold spore so I won't have to pay taxes.

BB.
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?

User avatar
beeblebrox
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:13 pm

appicchato wrote:While agreeing that plants do have (physical) form, I find it a bit of a stretch (actually a large one) to think that they possess feelings, perception, (certainly) mental formations, nor consciousness...this being a purely personal perspective though...an aggregate, yes...five, nay...


I think it can be said that the sunflowers are conscious of the sun passing overhead (heliotropic).

I think that a human being maybe tends to be biased about what the consciousness entails (which of course, makes sense... because it's a word from their language, after all): at the very least attributing some kind of human trait to it... because that is the only thing they're familiar with; or at the very worst, attributing to it something like spirit, or some kind of atman... which I think is how many would try to interpret and then explain how a plant might have consciousness (new age stuff), which wasn't what I'm trying for with the sunflower example above, at all (really).

If we looked at what the Buddha said, a consciousness is what arises when there is a contact (e.g., eye + object = eye consciousness, and so on). Obviously, there is a contact in between the sunflower and the sun... or else the sunflower wouldn't have moved its head. It's basically a sunflower-consciousness... though, it's still very different from the human consciousness.

Also, if we view feelings as only positive, neutral or negative sensations (as described by the Buddha)... then I don't think that the feelings necessarily have to be nerve-based. I think it's already been shown that the plants have actions of their own which is based on their sensations of the positive or the negative (from their perception of what's good or bad... not ours)...

Those are just some (vegan) foods for thought. :twisted:

:anjali:

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 13442
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:31 pm

acinteyyo wrote:What can be experienced can be grouped as the different aggregates but it would be a misunderstanding to say this or that group belongs to the experienced phenomena, it's the other way round!

That's the way I see it. Aggregates, elements, etc, are not things, especially not little "building blocks".
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... tm#khandha

:anjali:
Mike

SarathW
Posts: 6193
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Do plants possess five aggregate?

Postby SarathW » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:11 pm

Aciteyyo – You are correct. The question should be re phrased to “Do plants arise with five aggregate?” Sorry for my bad English.

BB: I agree with you. I think consciousness is a spectrum like light. It can arise in various form.

Thanks everyone : I agree with you and understand that, this knowledge is not important in attaining Nirvana. But will help us to understand Anatta. Having said that plants are very important part of our life and should be protected.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”


Return to “Fringe Theravāda Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Goob and 22 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine