Consciousness of Plants and the oneness of life
It seems difficult for the average person to think of plants as being able to communicate with one another, albeit simplistically, nonetheless it is a communicative process which is just a step below that of the animal kingdom. of which we as humans belong.
Irrevocably one thinks of consciousness as self-consciousness and quite rightly so, because any sentient form of life capable of perception, surely must also apperceive; thus apperception gives rise to self-consciousness. It doesn't matter to what degree it occurs. What matters is that it occurs. It matters because it gives us a deeper sense of how all of life has a connective thread.
It seems only sensible that a more complicated brain such as the human brain, would have a very complex way of seeing and using his perceptive world. His needs and demands are greater, and his capabilities of externalizing what he thinks is matched equally by his physical attributes; attributes which the animal and the plant do not have.
The animal and plant life have their own attributable means of expression, mostly, for them, it is a systematic method of attaining food to preserve their life, while some go slightly further building quite complex structures. We on the other hand go far beyond that and create what we don't even need on a physical level, but create what will feed the various levels in man, which have contributed to his civilization.
Mind you there are those that feel the Arts in general are completely unnecessary and that music and literature, which have evolved to such a fine state, that it illuminates the inner man's dreams and reveries, and have in much part, fashioned our civilizations right up to the present day, are not necessary at all.
So? We are complex and inventive and individually mobile, while plants and animals appearing to remain static, do in their own concomitant way move across the planet scattering their seeds with the help of winds and other mediums.
Recently much testing has been done with chimps and apes and we now know that Chimps at least, are capable of using a complete alphabet system, by using sign language. We also know that they are self - conscious. This simple test was done on a variety of animals which were placed before mirrors. Most animals saw only their reflection, and thinking it was another of their species took it upon themselves to strike threatening poses, or at least some playful attitudes were taken by others.
The Chimps on the other hand invariably began to look upon the chimp in the mirror as actually being a reflection of themselves. They would inspect their teeth, preen while watching themselves. Make grimacing faces and generally enjoy the fact that they now knew how they appeared. One in the test went as far as to see an eyebrow hair out of place and licking his finger preened it into the proper direction, then sat back and obviously admired himself.
As I have written on this subject before , I won't go into too much detail on the various languages of animals, but we know that man of all the primates is the only one to have a voice box that rises up into the throat after six months of life. The Chimps and the Apes hold their voice box in a descended position. This may have something to do with their inability to speak an understandable and decipherable language. We know the Chimps can "think" a complex language - i.e.: their ability to speak sign language. It seems that the ascending voice box is needed in order to formulate a speech pattern.
This at one time was thought to be confusing until lately, in the past 30 years or so a tremendous amount of work has been done with the language of the dolphins, elephants and chimps. It now seems, and here you will have to stretch your minds a bit to get a grasp of what I am going to say. Imagine for instance that you are listening to a common foreign language. You cannot understand what they are saying, but you do know that for example it was Italian. Italian has a certain music to it, as does French. You can tell them apart. The more one tries this one finds that Scandinavian, and Russian and Chinese and yes, even Japanese all have their own music to them. In fact we imitate them sometimes, parodying the diphthongs of the Chinese and the slurring soft sound of the romantic French tongue. Yet unless one can study the language, one cannot understand what they are saying.
Now take a step back and listen to an Oriel or a Robin singing. They have different music to their song, yet we know the difference between them and can spot a Robin anywhere just from the musical intonation of his song - much like we can tell who is a Russian from the music of his tongue.
With the human, we have human hearing which allows us to hear all the sounds that a foreign language emits. With birds and animals we cannot. They have supersonic melodies and the elephant for instance has subsonic utterances which we can't hear. We can only feel them.
There are many mysteries which we have not yet discovered, but perhaps if we could, in the same way as we learn a foreign language, hear the animal voices enough , we could also learn theirs. It seems ridiculous to me that in this simple aspect I have explained, that a Robin is saying nothing else but Chirrup, chirrup! We know they have calls of danger, alert warnings also, and commands to stay where you are, yet all we hear is chirrup chirrup. So does the language for others of their species make a difference in their commands and especially when you hear them sitting on a wire just chattering a way to one another, perhaps one is saying "Mrs. Robin just had 4 chicks."
The above is fancy and quite funny to think of, but nonetheless the possibility is there. Even more strange are the tests the Russians and the Japanese did on plants. When I saw this demonstration on a video some years back it made me take a second and more thoughtful look at the plant kingdom.
The Russian scientists created this huge green house enabled with sensors, windows that opened to the sensor and also water taps that opened to the same type of sensors.
They arranged five fully gown cabbage plants in a row on a bench. Nothing fancy - after all they were just cabbages!
One of the cabbages was hooked up to a voltage meter which registered activity in the plant when it was stroked. The test for consciousness was this:
Six men in white coats came in, forcibly thinking pleasant thoughts about the cabbage. They marched about 8 feet behind one another. The last man was to think of eating the cabbage and tearing its leaves off.
As each of the first 5 men passed the cabbages, the voltage meter registered nothing, but as the 6th man approached the needle began to swing wildly up and down. When he arrived at the plant he picked it up from its pot and tore it to shreds in front of the other plants.
Now the other five cabbage plants which were not hooked up to the electrical meter, now had those meters placed on all of them. The same 6 men returned to the room marching 8 feet apart and ALL were told to think pleasant thoughts about the cabbages and nothing happened, yet as the same 6th man passed the cabbages, now in the 4th position on re-entry, this time thinking pleasant thoughts, the meters went wild. They had recognized the killer of their cabbage mate.
Well the test was repeated with many other cabbages and the same results occurred. Were they conscious of the external world about them? Were they self-conscious? We might wonder, as the following test were even more interesting.
A large group of plants were rigged with the electrodes and then the heat was turned up in the green house. After some time, magically, The testers noticed the upper windows in the greenhouse opening. Remember in the beginning I said that these electrodes were hooked to the windows and the water taps? Next they let the plants dry out, and almost on command, all the plants at the same time seem to activate the sprinkler system, thus quenching their dried out root systems.
The thing with the latter test was that it implied self-consciousness, at least to the extent, I need water and a cooler temperature.
It seems tests have been done also on the pine tree when it is being infested with the beetle. It kills the tree by going under the bark and destroying that slimy layer of skin under the bark. Now days, we have people checking the forest for this horrible little beetle and when found in a tree it has to be cut down and burned, so as to avoid the beetles spread. Prior to our intervening and saving many parts of our forest, it was found that the beetle itself, after some time, would cease to travel through the forest. It was found that at the line of beetle cessation, there was a marked increase in the rest of the Pine forest's pine sap. The trees, in order to protect themselves had produced a greater amount of pine, which the beetles would not touch. Nature has its way of protecting itself.
The interesting thing here is, how did the trees know to produce more pine than normal. Were the infected trees sending out signals to the rest of the forest?
Like the young hero Siegfried of mythological fame, who on tasting the blood of the vanquished dragon Fafner, was able to understand the speech of birds, and fortunately for him, was able to avoid forthcoming treachery. Perhaps in myths there is some truth.
The next test was done in Japan with cactii. A Japanese scientist and his wife raised some beautiful tall cactus and they were endeavoring to teach the cactus to speak. You smiling? What I next saw I wondered whether it was a joke, a set up, but on the veracity of the tape, which was included in the Russian tape I accepted what I saw, with tongue in cheek. Nonetheless here it is.
This cactus was hooked up to a speaker, and an amplifier and a microphone were shoved into the cactus. The Japanese scientist was repeating over and over again, "Ahhh!" It was quite funny and we who were watching it had a good laugh, but then in an instant, an AHHH came back from the plant out of the speaker. He said he had worked for 3 months to get that one sound to be electrically reproduced by the plant, but there it was, as clear as one could wish for. They promised they would begin to work on the next sound. That was some 15 years ago I saw this tape. Gardeners have been telling us for a long time that talking to plants really helps them grow, and or, stroking them gently, but then I later heard that if you speak closely to your plant they use up your breath for their own growth.
Great fun to see and read about all these things, but even without seeing these tests, I have always been one to think that we are all interconnected in consciousness.
I hope this article makes you listen to the song of a bird all the more intently and perhaps give thanks to your salad when you are preparing your evening meal - who knows, maybe they are listening J))