Sentience (and plants)

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thanks for this, I suspected as much


More can be found here on dhammawheel. Some very interesting stuff in the book excerpt there. It makes the point that there is some evidence that the Northern/Mahayana tradition was more inclined to write off the possibility of plant sentience, while Theravada retains some remnants of an earlier tradition that ascribed to plants at least some sentience (even if mainstream Theravada would also later come to dismiss plant sentience as well). Quoting the scholar Okada:

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).

I do recommend reading the rest of that linked post, if you are interested in further exploring the question.


Sorry but a tree deity is a being and it’s body is not the tree. It’s house is a tree.


Don’t forget impenetrable jungles were everywhere at the time. They meant certain death. Are we not mixing up some ‘circle of life’ gia theory and trying to fit the Buddha’s Dhamma into it?

Now it’s incredibly important to look after the earth’s forests, without which we wouldn’t be alive!


Can you elaborate on what you mean by this? I just suspected that plants have a kind of proto-sentience or are seen as living beings in some way (though not as much as animals) in early Buddhism. This does not necessarily lead to Gaia theory.


I think plants were seen as plants are seen now. No need to graft consciousness. I was wondering whether the next step would be to say ‘everything has a consciousness’ as well.