Plants ~ Borderline Beings?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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retrofuturist
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Re: Plant Life

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:37 am

Greetings Hanzze,

Hanzze wrote:so a plant comes to "existence" out of which reason?

It doesn't... not the way Buddha defined existence, anyway.

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

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:56 am

Dear retrofuturist,

are there suttas which call plants "different" forms of live? Do they not arise, exist, and dying? Are they not caught in the circle of life?
As the tree seams to be one of the most peaceful beings, nutritious so many beings, giving them a place to live, air to breath, holding the soil together that it does not get lost. Even he is such a kind of generous being, he has to struggle and fight from the birth till death. His fight may be soundless, slowly, difficult to observe, not easy to see.

In German palaces where trees are planted to grow in protection are called: "Baumschule" what could be translated as "School for trees". It may has nothing to do with it, it just came to my mind.
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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Re: Plant Life

Postby alan » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:06 am

Plants are irrelevant. Be nice to them anyway--it's good for you.

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:39 am

Dear alan,

irrelevant for what?
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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Re: Plant Life

Postby alan » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:45 am

Not a proper question.

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:02 am

Dear Alan,

in the way nibbana is translated as "without plants or forest"? Well in south east Asia the acting is mostly like that. But I dont think that your "irrelevant" was pointing in that way. I just do not remember the quote about the different between cutting the forest and cutting the forest in the mind. *searching*
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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Re: Plant Life

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:24 am

Greetings Hanzze,

Hanzze wrote:are there suttas which call plants "different" forms of live? Do they not arise, exist, and dying? Are they not caught in the circle of life?

They're not sentient...

Therefore, outside the realms of existence (as per the original post in this topic).

Therefore, when the Buddha issued precepts to lay followers that they should not kill sentient beings, he did not create a big hoo-hah telling them not to cut trees. The only people the Buddha told not to cut trees were monks (see Vinaya instructions on soil, seeds, trees etc.) and this was so that people who mistakenly thought trees were sentient would not find the bhikkhus to be at fault, and therefore cause them trouble.

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

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:46 am

Dear retrofuturist,

could it be that it has only step by step as its reason? What if you observe plants by your self, is there no sentient? The plant Mimosas may be a good sample. If a being has no sentient, it would be possible to harm it? Isn't the misunderstanding of expression always the reason why we are thinking that it does not matter to hurt?

Dear Alan,
I just found the dhammapada verse. Was that why you call it irrelevant?

"O bhikkhus, cut down the forest of caving, not the real tree; the forest of craving breeds danger (of rebirth). Cut down the forest of craving as well as its undergrowth and be free from craving." Dhammapada Vers 283

...As the march passed trough each village, Maha Ghosananda ordinated a tree, to emphasize their sacred nature. "When we ordained a tree, it becomes a monk," he explained. "When you kill the tree, then you kill the monk."...
Dhammayietra V: Forest, "The Buddha of the battlefield"
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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Re: Plant Life

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:29 am

Re: Plant Life
by Stefan » 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


The fact that plants have developed the ability to "move out of the way", "respond to environmental & predatory pressure", "seek nutrients by moving and growing into nutrient rich zones in their environment", "cooperate in symbiotic relationships", and "communicate electrochemically with not only their own species, but other species", proves that they are more likely conscious than not conscious. I can remember when people routinely stated that animals didn't have feelings as a justification for carving them up in surgery to do medical experiments. Just because we think it doesn't make it so.

What is consciousness by Buddhist definitions:

Read for expanded understanding: Re: Plant Life
by Stefan » 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

Consciousness of eye which arises in the mind is dependent upon the sensory organ of the eye. The eye detects light and passes it on to the brain, where the input is processed. Buddha did not teach that eye consciousness was dependent upon a brain, but dependent upon mind which is independent of a brain, that is to say not a part of the brain. (By the way, I have never subscribed to this theory/teaching. It is my understanding and training that mind arises from complex biochemical and electrochemical processes made possible by the neurochemical processes of the organ we call a brain.)

The other five conciousnesses: smell, taste, touch, hearing, mentality are all made possible due to organs which make contact with the exterior world and find residence in the mind, forming consciousnesses integrated by the mental consciousness.

Plants can do all of this as previously stated. The question is, "Do plants have a mental consciousness?", which I can't demonstrate. But, neither can I demonstrate if anyone on this board has a mental consciousness. You each have to volunteer that information to me when asked. The problem with demonstrating that plants have a consciousness is that we aren't smart enough to speak "plant" to raise the question.
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 Ron-The-Elder » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:57 am

cooran wrote: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


Actually your example is very good. But, here is what is different:

Plants have living cells with organelles, nutrient transport systems, membranes, and a organelle to provide energy, just as all animal life does. Electronic and electro-mechanical systems do not. Plants are alive. Machines are not.

Now to take your argument one step further. It is now possible to program machines to be self-aware, environmentally aware, and capable of learning and adapting to the environment. Soon they will have the ability to replicate themselves. All of these capabilities are currently possessed by both plants and animals. Will machines then be sentient? If Buddha was truly Sammasambuddha, why didn't he account for this in his 31 Planes of existence?

However, my digression here is off topic. I agree we should stick to what Buddha taught.

Another question which arises in this regard is found in the translation of our five precepts for laypersons: "Cause no harm to sentient beings."

In other versions/translations I have read: "Cause no harm to living beings."

The first is used for justification by vegans for not eating meat.

What justification can vegans use for eating plants with respect to the second variation?

C. Avihinsa-sankappa: resolving not to think in ways that aim at punishing or doing violence to others, or in ways that would lead to harm for other people or living beings. No matter how good or evil other people may be, we don't give rein to thoughts of envy, jealousy or competitiveness. We can shed these things from the heart because they are harmful to us — and when we can do ourselves harm, there is nothing to keep us from harming others.



IV. Right Action: being upright in our activities. With reference to our personal actions, this means adhering to the three principles of virtuous conduct —

A. Not killing, harming or harassing other people or living beings.



c. Samma-ditthi: abandoning wrong views and mental darkness. If our minds lack the proper training and education, we may come to think that we and all other living beings are born simply as accidents of nature; that "father" and "mother" have no special meaning; that good and evil don't exist. Such views deviate from the truth and can dissuade us from restraining the evil that lies within us and from searching for and fostering the good. To believe that there's no good or evil, that death is annihilation, is Wrong View — a product of short-sighted thinking and poor discernment, seeing things for what they aren't. So we should abandon such views and educate ourselves, searching for knowledge of the Dhamma and associating with people wiser than we, so that they can show us the bright path. We'll then be able to reform our views and make them Right, which is one form of mental uprightness.

Cutupapata-ñana: the ability to focus on the death and rebirth of other living beings — sometimes in good destinations, sometimes in bad — together with the causes that lead them to be reborn in such ways. This gives rise to a sense of weariness and disenchantment with sensations and mental acts, body and mind.


I could find many more examples. But, you get the idea.

Therefore the reason I see that plants and plant forms are not included in the 31 Planes of Existence is simply because of ignorance, the root cause of all dukkha. No other explanation makes any sense from a modern scientific standpoint, except perhaps that Buddha realized that all life needs to eat something to stay alive and Buddha chose to make plants a dietary staple, even though in The Vinaya, Rules for Monks, advised his Bhikkhus to eat sentient beings (animals) during alms rounds if they were not cooked specifically for them.

One final choice which comes to mind is, "We don't know and can never know."...which is probably the best, or at least the most honest answer.
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 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:14 am

Ron said: If Buddha was truly Sammasambuddha …

This is a Theravada Buddhist Discussion Forum. What exactly are you saying here?

Ron said: Another question which arises in this regard is found in the translation of our five precepts for laypersons: "Cause no harm to sentient beings."
In other versions/translations I have read: "Cause no harm to living beings."

Please give the original Pali and a link to where these translations are on-line.

And can you also provide the link to the very long quotation you gave on Avihinsa-sankappa?

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 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:26 am

cooran wrote:
Ron said: If Buddha was truly Sammasambuddha …

This is a Theravada Buddhist Discussion Forum. What exactly are you saying here?

Ron said: Another question which arises in this regard is found in the translation of our five precepts for laypersons: "Cause no harm to sentient beings."
In other versions/translations I have read: "Cause no harm to living beings."

Please give the original Pali and a link to where these translations are on-line.

And can you also provide the link to the very long quotation you gave on Avihinsa-sankappa?

With metta
Chris


Here are the links you requested, Chris:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... peace.html

There are many such quotations varying between "sentient" and "living", and I am certain you must be aware of this, because you are well versed in Theravada literature, e.g. The Tipitaka and the commentaries.

With regard to the meaning of SammāSamBuddha...:

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/DPP ... mbodhi.htm

As to what I meant by it:

If Buddha is in fact a sammasambuddha, then he has perfect knowledge of past, present, and all the possibilities of the future. He is perfectly enlightened.

One more quotation for you:
I am a friend and helper to all,
I am sympathetic to all living beings.
I develop a mind full of love and
delights always in harmlessness.
I gladden my mind, fill it with joy,
makes it immovable and unshakable.
I develop the divine states of mind
not cultivated by simple men.
Theragatha. 648-9


source: http://what-buddha-said.net/drops/II/Ha ... erance.htm
Last edited by Ron-The-Elder on Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:35 am, edited 1 time 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: Plant Life

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:08 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Hanzze,

Hanzze wrote:are there suttas which call plants "different" forms of live? Do they not arise, exist, and dying? Are they not caught in the circle of life?

They're not sentient...

Therefore, outside the realms of existence (as per the original post in this topic).

Therefore, when the Buddha issued precepts to lay followers that they should not kill sentient beings, he did not create a big hoo-hah telling them not to cut trees. The only people the Buddha told not to cut trees were monks (see Vinaya instructions on soil, seeds, trees etc.) and this was so that people who mistakenly thought trees were sentient would not find the bhikkhus to be at fault, and therefore cause them trouble.

Metta,
Retro. :)

This Hanzze is the mainstream position accepted by the vast majority of Theravadin Buddhists.
You are free to accept that position or to reject it...but Retro has stated it with admirable brevity.
I think you owe him a debt of gratitude... you need not commit any time to asking pointless questions like, does a lettuce share sentience.

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:51 pm

Dear PeterB,

I can only tell what I have seen and understood by my self and I would not follow as I never did. It was just like alway: Look for your self, if it is understood right.
I dont think that retrofuturist is easy able to manipulate, he knows very well what to think of and what to ignore. It could be that I am wrong, that thanks for the hint Peter. And sorry retrofuturist, if it is that case.

One should not forget, that the western life is far, far away from nature... patient and time. If you spend some time in nature and you come to a place where trees are have been cut short time ago you also would feel that there is a lot of suffering and pain, some wood still alive.

In Theravada tradition in south east Asia, it is normaly taught that a plant higher that one meter could have a habitant (I dont know how to say, something like a ghost). That it way one request, I guess it was three days, before he cuts the wood. One could say, that it is important to give others the chance to leave there palace.
Taking what is not given is in any case wrong. To honesty request if it is real needed is a good way for laypeople I guess.

Although thanks to Ron the edler to point some things out in a much better and more useful way that I ever could.
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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Re: Plant Life

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:13 pm

Hanzze wrote: "Although thanks to Ron the edler to point some things out in a much better and more useful way that I ever could"


No need to thank me, my friend. This is a very old topic argued since the time of Buddha and most likely will never be resolved. The key I think has already been given: "Intention".

If your intention is to cause harm, then your karmic consequences will reflect this intention. If you intention is to be of benefit, then your karmic consequence will be meritorious.

The most difficult issue to deal with, no doubt, as Buddhism moved across the world was overcoming cultural inertia. Buddha-dhamma won over many converts, but in each culture there were attachments. One of the biggest culturally derived attachments of which I have become aware is "food". For example, being half Italian/half German & Welsh I still eat meatballs when they are available, even though I know that some poor cow, and/or pig had to make a life ending donation as a result.

I therefore rationalize, "Life has to consume life in order to survive!"...to excuse my greedy , delusional self-serving actions.

Buddha understood this rationalization for certain, since he was a Tathagatta, Teacher of The Gods.
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 PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:28 pm

We can all blow smoke up each others Suttas for ever Hanzze. The facts about this and other issues were established in the Theravadin community centuries ago. We are all free to substitute our own papanca for the Teachings Of The Elders. But be in no doubt when that is what it is.

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:39 pm

PeterB wrote:We can all blow smoke up each others Suttas for ever Hanzze. The facts about this and other issues were established in the Theravadin community centuries ago. We are all free to substitute our own papanca for the Teachings Of The Elders. But be in no doubt when that is what it is.


Hmmmm. Is somebody peeking? :rofl:
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 PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:44 pm

Stefan wrote: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

This post from Stefan. and.....
Last edited by PeterB on Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PeterB
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Re: Plant Life

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:47 pm

cooran wrote: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

This post from Cooran...and the post I quoted from Retrofuturist point to the non papanca accepted view of the Theravada.

There is a old English saying Hanzze..." you can lead a horse to water, but you cant make him drink." :smile:

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Re: Plant Life

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:50 pm

Dear Ron-The-Elder,

is it the intension to harm or at least the intension of wanting? I guess the "intension to harm" is just a first step in the practice in the Theravada way. To practice compassion/precepts.

To day it is not easy to see the harming in a nearly perfect network of hiding the effects to force the wanting. In ancient time it or here in Cambodia you see the tree falling when you think about toilet paper and you need to cut the meat out of the pig.
In this case it is more easy to keep just the intension of not harming as you easily can see the effects. To have no intension of harming is what a novice is usually taught, but from my opinion it does not fit to "modern" society, it is simply to far away and less are there who take the real save way of leaving the house.

On the other hand, knowledge is something that is easy available so one should understand that everything is taken by nature, had caused harming on the other side of the earth.

Or mother would still continue to given, even she is hurt and cries. As long as we do not have the possibility to give something back, we should reduce the hurt on her. Not wanting more as we need is a good start to honor our mother, the nature, the plant...
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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