parth wrote:Have a doubt, where does the plant life figure in the rebirth cycle. Plant life does not seem to have been covered in any of the 32 realms of existence.
Have done extensive research into this question and came to the conclusion that early Buddhists did not truly appreciate the various capacities of plants which caused them to arrive at the conclusion that plants are not sentient.
Buddha allowed for protection of certain plants, but it appears only for the reason that such plants are homes or residences for sentient life forms such as creatures of the forest, including devas and various gods. Buddha also required that followers avoid damaging crops of farmers, not for the sake of protecting the plant, but because the farmers' yields would be affected.
Today we understand that various plant species have abilities not previously understood:
Plants emit toxins to keep bugs and animals from devouring them.
Enter Into Symbiotic Relationships:
Many plants have complex relationships with various insects, which collect nectar from the plant and in exchange carry pollen from male to female plants in the process of pollination.
My favorite in this regard is relationship between the African fire ant and the Acacia tree. The fire ant protects the trees from larger herbivores in exchange for a sticky sweet substance which the ant collects for its nutritional needs.
Some plants move in protection of their limbs, leaves and branches. Some plants, which rely upon animal proteins and fats for sustenance move in response to actuation of triggers in order to trap small animals and insects. Some plants have evolved slippery surfaces and inescapable bowls with pits filled with digestive enzymes to make the nutrients from the insects that fell therein to be digested.
Plants have long been known to be photo-philes and and photo-taxic, meaning that they can reorient themselves to maximize photon impingement due to radiation from our local star, The Sun, to ensure efficient photosynthetic processes.
Plants, like ourselves and other sentient animal organisms, have the ability to communicate. Plants do this both chemically and chemo-electrically
Mutational Adaptive Specialization
Plants, like animals, have been modified genetically to adapt to varying conditions due to environmental pressures such a predation, competition, and changing environmental conditions such as heat, pressure, wind, water availability and etc..
Because I have spent so much time in the past discussing and debating this topic I have given up trying to persuade others that plants should be treated with as much respect as any animal life-form. While plants "may not" meet the criteria of sapience and sentience by human definitions, they do add enormously to our quality of life, and in reality we could not exist without them as we have evolved on this planet. Certainly there are life-forms which have adapted to sulfurous gases near volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean, here in New Hampshire we rely on plants for much of the food that we eat, the materials from which our homes are built, the clothing that we wear, and even for the oxygen in the air that we breathe.
Therefore, I hereby submit my vote to allow plants to join the sentient community of life-forms on this planet.