AR Philosophy > Morality of AR > Biology - Index
Do Plants Have Souls?

By Keith Varnum

Plants are intelligent forms of life who are capable of intention, preference, and a will to survive, thrive and interact. Scientific research indicates that plants communicate with insects, animals, human beings and other plants in order to keep themselves alive and safe. Evidence also reveals that plants are telling us how to achieve health and wholeness for humanity and the earth herself.

Plants Are Just Like People

In research which spans more than 100 years, scientists have been documenting botanical adaptability and the amazing similarities that plants have with animals and people. Studies indicate that what metaphysicians, psychics, shaman, tribal people and sensitives worldwide have been saying about the plant kingdom for millennia is true: plants are intelligent beings who can communicate with us, and, we can communicate with them.

Smart Strategies for Survival

In the book, "The Secret Life of Plants," authors Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird describe how plants "talk to" people and what plants "talk" about. Staying alive and safe tops the list.

To protect themselves, plants have developed highly adaptive and strategic ways for living. According to the authors, "Plants seem to know which ants will steal their nectar, closing when these ants are about, opening only when there is enough dew on their stems to keep the ants from climbing. The more sophisticated acacia plant actually enlists the protective services of certain ants which it rewards with nectar in return for the ants' protection against other insects and herbivorous mammals," thus serving the same function as friends and allies do in the animal and human realms. Some vegetation develop a bitter taste, some ooze gummy secretions, while others grow thorns to defend themselves.

*****les for the Pussy

Once plants feel safe, however, they may drop their need for defense. In one study, a scientist wanted to determine if cacti grow needles primarily for the purpose of keeping themselves from harm. Safely housed in a greenhouse, the scientist talked to numerous cacti assuring them that they were protected and that he cared about them. He encouraged the plants to feel even more secure by playing soothing music in the greenhouse. Within several months the cacti dropped all their spikes. The offspring of these bare cacti were born without needles. Defenseless within this nurturing environment, the mature and new-born cacti prospered. After a period of a year of being without their protective quills, the cacti suddenly began re-growing their bristles and new baby sprouts were born with needles again.

After some investigation, it was discovered that a house cat had found its way into the greenhouse. Suspecting that the cat may be the source of the perceived threat to the cacti causing the reemergence of their means of protection, the scientist blocked the cat's way of entry. Once the cacti sensed they were once again safe, all of the cacti dropped their *****ly means of defense.

You Can Hurt a Plant's Feelings

Plants respond not only to insects and animals but to human emotion and intention. Plants can distinguish between people who feel kindly towards them and people who don't, and our green friends cooperate with people they like. In one experiment a new scientist came to study some test plants. Surprisingly, these test plants which previously had been very responsive, were completely non-responsive during the new scientist's tests.

Investigating the change in the plants' response, it was discovered that the new scientist incinerated his plants in his own personal research once his tests were completed. Shortly after the new scientist left, the plants again began registering activity and cooperating.

In another study, scientists found that vegetation reacted negatively to people who found the plants unattractive, even to the extent that the plants would "faint." When over-stimulated by emotions, plants will "go unconscious" or numb and can stay " moody" for weeks. Scientific studies show that once plants attune themselves to a particular person, they are able to maintain a link with that person, no matter how far away. These plants register "knowing" not only when a person is returning to the plants, but when the person makes the decision to return.

Other reports show that plants respond to people talking to them in a caring, loving manner, such as asking a tree to radically change its growth direction so that it won't have to be cut, or asking weeds not to grow excessively in a vegetable garden.

Who Says Plants Can't Move?

In order to stay alive, plants have learned to move and do so in remarkable fashion, for extraordinary purposes and with high, extra- sensory intelligence. "Plants," says Viennese biologist, Raoul France "move their bodies as freely, easily and gracefully as the most skilled animal or human, and the only reason we don't appreciate the fact is that plants do so at a much slower pace than humans. A climbing plant. which needs a prop, will creep toward the nearest support. Should this support be shifted, the vine, within a few hours, will change its course into a new direction." Plants will even grow towards a support that's hidden from view. France continues, "Plants are capable of intent: they can stretch toward, or seek out, what they want in ways as mysterious as the most fantastic creations of romance."

As Thomkins and Bird relate, "Some parasitical plants can recognize the slightest trace of the odor of their victim and will overcome all obstacles to crawl in its direction."
The Sophisticated Musical Tastes of Plants

Through their animated responses to classical and heavy rock music, plants further divulge their preferences. In studies of plants exposed to heavy rock music, the plants not only grew away from the music source, but some grew either abnormally tall and put out excessively small leaves or remained stunted. In some cases the plants died. When classical music was played to the plants, the plants grew toward the music source with healthy growth. The same plants, marigolds, who died when listening to rock music, flowered when listening to classical music. The authors report, "the rock-stimulated plants were using much more water than the classically entertained vegetation, but apparently enjoying it less, since examination of the roots revealed that soil root growth was sparse in the rock group, whereas in the classical group, root growth was thick, tangled and about four times as long."

In India, Dr. T. C. Singh, in his studies of music and plants, stated that he had "proven beyond any shadow of doubt that harmonic sound waves affect the growth, flowering, fruiting and seed-yield of plants." Singh also reported that girls dancing India's most ancient dance style accelerated the growth of daisies, marigolds and petunias. The dancing caused them to flower much earlier than the control group of plants, presumably because of the rhythm of the footwork transmitted through the earth.
Plant Devas Caught on Camera!

Kirlian photography is now able to verify the existence of living, changing light radiating from plants. And many "seers" and scientists have seen light emanations and moving forms coming from plants. Hindu sages refer to devas. Clairvoyants and other sensitives are able to directly see and communicate with the fairies, elves, gnomes, sylphs and other creatures which live in and among plants.

Tompkins and Bird conclude, "Evidence now supports the vision that plants are living, breathing, communicating creatures, endowed with personality and the attributes of soul."

Contact Keith: [email protected]

Do Plants Feel Pain?

Some people have been misled by Internet discussions indicating that plants feel pain. This argument is used by those who wish to justify their meat consumption by claiming that because both plants and animals feel pain, there is no ethical or religious difference between killing plants for food and killing animals for food.

Not Taking "Life"
One argument begins by explaining that plants have "life," presumably just the same as animals and humans, and thus, this argument claims that one cannot avoid taking life simply by consuming plant foods. The concept of life used in this argument is nebulous and general, and the argument does not make a moral or religious distinction between the life possessed by plants and that possessed by animals.

One author claims that if it were possible to eat a diet that did not involve taking life, he would adopt that diet immediately, but since, according to the author, a vegetarian diet also takes "life," he states that he may as well carry on eating meat. In addition to the lack of clarification about the concept of life and the lack of distinction between animal life and plant life, the author failed to note that a diet that meets his criteria does exist. Many people follow a "fruitarian" diet, meaning that they eat fruits, some vegetables that have seeds, and nuts. Fruitarian diets do not require the taking of "life," as plants produce fruits, seeds, and nuts so that they can be eaten. The plants neither suffer nor die to provide these foods. While we do not recommend this diet, it does meet this author�s criteria, and if the taking of "life" really is so important, this is the diet for him.

Supporters of this view of "life" also claim that since both plants and animals have life, it is better to take the life of one animal, who might feed 100 people, than to take the life of 100 or more plants to feed the same number of people. The fallacy of this argument will be investigated in more detail below.

Plants� Inability to Feel Pain

Supporters of this theory also claim that plants feel pain and that one farmer used a device to "scientifically" catch the sounds of plants "crying out" and "screaming" in pain. They state that our limited range of hearing cannot pick up the "screams" of plants but that machines can.

The truth is that plants, when stressed, release a chemical called ethylene. This chemical indicates that the plant needs to increase cell growth or take other measures against the perceived stressor. Scientists measured levels of ethylene released from stressed plants by "listening" to them using lasers until a certain frequency was measured.

While this research shows that plants might have a stress-avoidance response, it is quite a stretch to refer to this as "pain." It is even more erroneous to equate this response with the pain suffered by animals and human beings. Plants lack nerve endings, brains, hormones, and other structures that would allow them to experience pain. They also lack the ability to move away from sources of stress, an evolutionary trait linked with the ability to feel pain.

Even those who argue that plants feel pain and suffer should support a vegetarian diet because the number of plants that must be fed to an animal to produce enough meat for one human is greater than the number of plants required to feed that same human if he or she ate the plants directly. Meat-eaters are responsible for "killing" 10 times more plants than vegetarians, and they also kill and cause suffering to animals.

The argument that plants feel pain and suffer and that killing them is as bad as killing animals is weak and illogical. Those who use this argument to justify their continued consumption of meat should attempt to approach the debate in a more logical, scientific manner. Such claims have fooled many well-intentioned people into perpetuating these falsehoods on the Internet. This is harmful to our Ummah, as it makes us appear ignorant and ill informed. We ask that all poeple who have put forward such unfounded claims remove these claims from their Web sites and other public forums and cease spreading these fictitious claims at conferences and debates.

For more information regarding plants� inability to feel pain, see Peter Singer�s Animal Liberation.

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