Thread: sentient beings

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    Forums Member david pagan 53's Avatar
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    sentient beings

    Hello all,
    Spent a several hours reading on the site yesterday, and would be interested to find out , what in Buddhism is the "understanding" of a sentient being , and sentience in general.
    The understanding that feels right at this point is that ( all "things" are conscious and aware, but are all potentially parts of a greater consciousness / awareness ) which perhaps infers for me that all things are sentient ( beings ? ) Hope that helps to qualify my question

    Thankyou
    Last edited by david pagan 53; 26 Apr 13 at 20:38.

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    Forums Member Goofaholix's Avatar
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    Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity. Sentience in Buddhism is the state of having senses http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience

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    Forums Member Dharma Dave's Avatar
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    I have wondered what the definition of a sentient being was, and would this definition vary according to personal or group belief. Interested in the following definition from Goof's wikipedia link:

    Getz (2004: p. 760) provides a generalist Western Buddhist encyclopedic definition:

    Sentient beings is a term used to designate the totality of living, conscious beings that constitute the object and audience of Buddhist teaching. Translating various Sanskrit terms (jantu, bahu jana, jagat, sattva), sentient beings conventionally refers to the mass of living things subject to illusion, suffering, and rebirth (Saṃsāra). Less frequently, sentient beings as a class broadly encompasses all beings possessing consciousness, including Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.[1]

    [1] Getz, Daniel A. (2004). "Sentient beings"; cited in Buswell, Robert E. (2004). Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Volume 2. New York, USA: Macmillan Reference USA. ISBN 0-02-865720-9 (Volume 2): pp.760
    Would you anyone agree or disagree with this?

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    Forums Member jim22712's Avatar
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    Imo I would say the main staple is self awareness

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    Quote Originally Posted by david pagan 53 View Post

    Spent a several hours reading on the site yesterday, and would be interested to find out , what in Buddhism is the "understanding" of a sentient being ....
    Bhikkhu Bodhi defines a sentient being as follows:

    A "sentient being" (pani, satta) is a living being endowed with mind or consciousness; for practical purposes, this means human beings, animals, and insects. Plants are not considered to be sentient beings; though they exhibit some degree of sensitivity, they lack full-fledged consciousness, the defining attribute of a sentient being.

    (from the section "Right Action" at the link below)

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a.../waytoend.html


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    Forums Member david pagan 53's Avatar
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    Many thanks for your repliies, to me that seems to infer that mind has to have a brain to work with for the definition of sentient . My path at this point has a far wider understanding of sentient than that. Unless I am not interpreting what was said correctly ?

    If you'll forgive my lack of knowledge on buddhism, Aloka but does that apply to all paths within Buddhism. or only to certain path(s).

    From my explorations the Nyingmapa path seems to be closest to mine at this point. but so far I have been unable to find much information about it. does it have other names too or am I just not seeing what is out there ?

    Many thanks

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by david pagan 53 View Post
    Many thanks for your repliies, to me that seems to infer that mind has to have a brain to work with for the definition of sentient . My path at this point has a far wider understanding of sentient than that. Unless I am not interpreting what was said correctly ?
    To me 'sentient' is everything other than plant life...eg, marine life, birds and other flying creatures, animals, insects, molluscs, slugs, worms etc etc

    Perhaps you could explain what your understanding of sentient is ?

    Aloka but does that apply to all paths within Buddhism.
    As far as I know, yes.

    From my explorations the Nyingmapa path seems to be closest to mine at this point. but so far I have been unable to find much information about it. does it have other names too or am I just not seeing what is out there
    The Nyingma school is one of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

    http://nbsfbayarea.org/about/buddhis...yingma-lineage

    http://www.palyul.org/eng_about_nyingma.htm

    If you are interested in Vajrayana, then I would suggest that you investigate your nearest Tibetan centres. It can't really be practised from the internet because of the importance attached to the guru/student relationship.

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    Forums Member david pagan 53's Avatar
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    Thanks for you reply Aloka, and thanks for the links I will have a look at them.
    My understanding of sentient ! Ok I will have a go, but it is an evolving understanding for me, my perception (briefly) at this stage is.That all things are sentient, maybe not in a way that we can understand at this point , that is confused by my understanding that all things are made of d.n.a .which may make d.n.a the only form of sentience ? I feel it is also possible that the earth is a sentient being which seems to make us a part of it. Then of course both ideas may be correct. What ever the perception of existence ( reality) is I feel it in me that everything is interconnected at some level(s).
    Having said that I know I still have much to learn / understand from many sources.

    With respect always

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