Is there such mention in the Sutta about Microbes being predicted by the Buddha?

This is due to below reason,

It seems the society demanded from all the paribbājakas and samanas to refrain from injuring plants and seeds. The buddha always considered peoples view when he layed new rules.


I agree. If we say being able to sense the environment and react without any consciousness, then they would qualify. If we say that they also need to have consciousness, etc, then it would seem they are not sentient. Paramecium seem to react to an amoeba attempting to engulf them, and they try to flee, but it seems to be an automatic reflex that has evolved, not consciousness. Same with the amoeba that attempts to eat other microbes. There’s no nervous system or senses.


I don’t normally post the same link twice in a thread, but perhaps you missed it. E.coli has been shown to have something that is functionally the same as a nervous system and senses (except without actual nerves because it’s a single cell creature). Anyway I highly recommend this article.


Right. Just watching some videos of microbe behavior, it seems clear that there’s some sort of rudimentary way of detecting these and reacting. That’s what I meant by an automatic reflex. We could imagine a consciousness, but it’s rather difficult if we assume there needs to be a nervous system involved. Buddhist myth doesn’t assume that, of course. Devas in the formless realms don’t have any senses at all, if I remember correctly.


They don’t have rūpa, according to Tibetan scholastic exegeses, but have the remaining aggregates afaik. I don’t know what they would be basing their findings on. This is related to the notion of “plant life is merely two-aggregate life.”

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What two specifically ?

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I have to look it up as I’m merely parroting a Nyingmapa löppon. Please give me a day, and I’ll get back to you with a source, bhante, but don’t expect it to be an EBT.


That idea of rudimentary detecting and reacting was what the scientists also thought going into the investigation of these creatures. But that’s not how it has turned out so far. What they found was memory, learning, volition, etc… Then they uncovered the nano brain organelle. They are right at the start of these experiments, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it progresses.

Yes. With each passing experiment, that assumption that we need a nervous system for consciousness looks increasingly shaky. And of course that fits in very well with the Buddhist idea of consciousness … With sense-organ(elle) and sense-object, sense-consciousness arises.


Biochemical processes are not the ones keeping the life (sentience?) going. It is the mind that creates rūpa accordingly as said in suttas; Cittena nīyati loko
Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā, manoseṭṭhā manomayā;

I don’t understand your comment or how it relates to what I said. Could you expand what you meant or what you thought I meant? :anjal:


Yes, that was what I was thinking when I thought of the formless realm example (i.e., form isn’t required for consciousness). Modern biology assumes consciousness arises from form (biochemistry, essentially), but Buddhist thought considers consciousness as what organizes form into a being. Usually either model works to explain the creatures we see everyday.

With microbes, I can imagine they have form, sensation, and perhaps action, but not perception and consciousness. Tiny little bits of sattva?


It relates to the way that paper explains memory and volition. There are scientific assumptions that water also has a sort of memory. Is there a eukaryotic analogue of the bacterial nanobrain memory mechanism - a mechanism to essentially provide a continuous trace of the past that can be used to monitor and evaluate changes in outcome and effect appropriate responses? One imagines that without altered environmental conditions, memory input of the bacterial type would be minimal( Stock and Zhang, 2013: the paper)

This is an assumption drawn according to the similarities between eukaryotic systems and E. coli biochemistry.
They cannot be certain about this reaction being the process of memory.

So the view science always have is that the michanism which drives lives is the chemical process; materialism.
This is just a theory to believe that E. coli has memory mechanism. What if this is just a chemical process driven as a response to the environmental changes which includes signaling mechanisms.

Evidence of absence

If one’s standards of certainty leads them to say “there is never ‘proof’ of non-existence”, then they must also say that “there is never ‘proof’ of existence either”. Hales argues that there are many cases where we may be able to prove something does not exist with as much certainty as proving something does exist (Steven Hales).

So there is no way to claim the existance of the memory or the absence with a significant certainity.

We got only our assumptions and theories. We cannot come into a conclusion about this. Eventhough microbes (unicellular) have some signalling mechanisms we cannot claim that they are sentient. They may be or not.

However, complex organisms (multi-cellular) have huge bodies, and it is hard to communicate between all the tissues and organs with simple biochemical process. So they need a better signaling mechanism. Thats why they are having a nervous system.

When we talk about the senses:
Some microbes which do not have nervous systems also have some responses towards chemicals l, toxins, and light, so do plants. Plants and microbes have interchangeable molecular mechanisms to survive harsh conditions; a miracle of evolution, one would say. a coinsidance(?). As explained in molecular evolution it is indeed.
On the other hand complex organisms have some organs that can sense taste, light, sound, heat, pressure, etc. This can be compared with buddhist view about senses. Senses are built of form and name(mental part). There is no proper way to ditect mental part to modern science however they can identify the changes in chemical and physical nature.
Ex: Brain activity images, detecting gama, infrared etc.
Biochemical reactions are predicted using radiation markers and other methods such as spectroscopy.
Some of these mechanisms are yet to be discovered.

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Ah right. I think I understand. Yes. That’s just the way scientists talk. Don’t worry too much about that. That’s just their convention. I would normally recommend doing some of the experiments and seeing if you think that you perceive sentient beings. But I realise that you may not have the resources or inclination for this.


Everyone has their own way of understanding and accepting things. I just do not accept theories without proper reasoning or proof. Thats all, I am not someone who hates science. I kind of like science, and use it to make some theories. :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes. Of course. If you do the experiments then you don’t need to accept any theory - you can see for yourself. Most of them are quite straight forward (could easily be done in a school/home lab), but you will need to put in the time to learn the methods and source some equipment and materials for yourself.

That’s April mop from Google lmao

I want to know how monk can live without killing any being as I note that in each second many microbes die in our gut and sometimes we eat them alive during water drinking so buddha really confuses me about what the limit is against no killing, I mean can we purely achieve no killing in mind, speech and bodily action especially concerning small organism?

Is there a sutta where buddha recognizes that small organism even exists ?

I hope you enlighten me bhante


This discussion covers what you are asking.


I discovered recently a YouTube channel called “Journey to the Microcosmos” that offers some fascinating footage and background info about micro-organisms. There’s definitely senses at work. They are aware of their environment, whether another cell is the same species or not, etc. There’s even a cell that spends it’s time “fishing” with an arm that has a sting that paralyzes any hapless prey that it encounters. There are amoebas that build shells around themselves like hermit crabs, sometimes from bits of stuff they find. It really does reach the point that a person scratches their head and wonders.

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And when they scratch their head, tiny organisms are disturbed!