5. The Bodhi Tree and Other Plants in the Pāli Tipiṭaka
Antonella Serena Comba [+]
University of Turin
In this chapter, Antonella Comba discusses the place of plants in the Pali Tipiṭaka. Although Indian Buddhists came to regard plants and seeds as insentient beings, the respect and love the Buddha felt for living plants was so deep that he did not allow monks to destroy plants, to pick fruits from trees, or to eat living seeds as these could generate new plants. Trees are ubiquitous in Buddhist narratives, and the forest is praised as the most suitable place for an ascetic to let go of any distraction and obtain awakening. Preaching the dhamma, the Buddha used many similes from the vegetable kingdom, because he was speaking to ascetics who like him were living in the forest and had direct experience of the inspiring power of that milieu.