First some background information, here is part of an article regarding Dr. Cleve Backster's research with plants, as well as human cells etc. In this post I will focus on the plant perspective though.
Part of article from: http://www.primaryperception.com/bio/?page_id=7
If cells have a memory and can communicate, can the effects of this biocommunication between cells be detected by instruments? For almost 40 years one researcher, Cleve Backster, has pursued this question. Cleve had become an expert with the use of lie detectors. He was Director of the Keeler Polygraph Institute and worked for the CIA on interrogation tactics. In 1966 he attached a plant to a polygraph. The polygraph recording pen moved rapidly to the top of the chart when Cleve’s thought and intention was "to burn the leaf." As a result of this intriguing response, Cleve became obsessed with a desire to understand the cellular communication process which he called primary perception. Studies were done on various plants; brine shrimp; non-fertile chicken eggs; E. Coli bacteria; bacteria present in plain yogurt; bacteria from an aquarium; in vitro animal cells; in vitro human white blood cells (oral leukocytes); human spermatozoa; and human whole blood. The instrumentation used was primarily the GSR (skin conductance) component of the polygraph, but later included electro-encephalograph (EEG) and electro-cardiograph (EKG). Distance seemed to impose no limitations to communication between cells. For example, Dr. Brian O’Leary, a NASA scientist-astronaut, conducted successful experiments with Cleve both in the laboratory and over distances of 350 miles away using his own donated white blood cells. Also, the use of electromagnetic shielding in experiments produced no deterring effects upon results implying a non-local process.
Cleve Backster’s research has been replicated, but others have failed in their attempts at replication and disparage his work. Cleve believes there exists a strong propensity for an "experimenter effect" in this type of research. The connection or bond between the experimenter and the life form being monitored must be eliminated. This is the reason that Cleve eventually used automated experiments. In addition, his research clearly indicates the importance of spontaneity and sincere intention. Both plants and human cells appear to discriminate between a thought that you do not really mean and a thought that is "for real." Thus, what appears to be occurring in Cleve’s experiments is a communication between one’s thoughts and one’s cells regardless of where the cells are located — an instantaneous non-local linkage.
I find it fascinating and quite encouraging that several NASA scientists-astronauts are taking part of this type of research and even running institutes to study and educate about mind - body - spirit connection, psychic work etc. Another astronaut worth mentioning studying related things and working with Dr. Backster is NASA scientist Dr. Edgar Mitchell, at his Institute of Noetic Sciences (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_of_Noetic_Sciences)
Well back to the story, the interesting thing is that the experiment is rather easy to replicate so anyone who want to find out if it's true or not just need to get one of those polygraphs, hook it up and see what they get, following Backster's protocols.
Apparently, the evidence presented in above links show that there is something going on, and personally I don't see why a plant should not be able to be conscious just because it does not have a brain, it is a completely different life form than human and animals or insects etc.
A brain might be needed for more complex tasks such as calculating things, moving around, and in other way control the physical body which they are in.
I know we have a consciousness that can exist outside of the physical body, and even without the physical body, and if that is possible, I don't see why a plant can't have consciousness as well.
For me this is a proven and established fact from personal experiments and practice for many years, as well as done in group with friends and other people, where there has been performed tests that show without any doubt that this is true, that our mind/consciousness can exist separated from our bodies and be in completely different locations and are pretty much limitless by time and space. Our physical bodies seem to be a more mechanical type of vehicle or machinery to be able to interact and do things here in the physical world, why it is like that, or how it got to be like that I don't know though I have some theories that seems probable for me but that's a whole other discussion.
First of all, it seems they possibly are conscious, at the moment I can't say that with 100% certainty but I do think they are. This is due to several reasons, one is the fact that they are living beings and I personally simply think all living beings have some sort of consciousness in one way or other as that is part of being alive.
Then to some more hands on personal accounts. As already explained, I told you that as a person can have his consciousness separated from his body, this means that consciousness is not limited to our physical beings, but can exist anywhere, in any space, at any time, completely separated from its physical host. This is from already explained personal experience and experimentation. So as said, if consciousness do not need a physical body, and thus not a physical brain, and not anything physical at all, I see it probable that plants can have consciousness of some sort as well, as it's clearly not limited to creatures with brains.
Second reason is that plants have a very strong energy, that can be sensed with astral or aura sight, and in other ways too such as sensations when being close to them etc. It is like they radiate a pleasent peaceful and harmonic energy that seems to be of a conscious sort when you are around with them, and have at least developed the abilities to sense such things, or if you have such abilities already from birth. I guess most people can agree plants are pleasent and nature is nice to be in - at least personally I feel greatly refreshed and literally feel the energy emitting from the plants and botanical life such as trees etc that goes through my being and fills me up with their love and healing powers, I've often meditated in the nature and felt I've come in contact with the nature - that means the plants, trees, etc, the botanical aspect of nature.
A third reason is that I once experienced to be directly connected to a tree in a meditative state, and yes it probably sounds silly and what not but from all my spiritual experiences that I've previously proven for myself to be real, I found this to most likely be real as well. What happened was that the tree itself basically transmitted its "thoughts" to me in a way and told me about its long life and things it had experienced through many years and sent me some energies that could be used for healing and I could even for a short while see this energy emitting out from my hands as yellow laser beams when I tried to, though that visual aspect disappeared the power still were there and my healing abilities improved from that moment on.
The communication was a way that is hard to describe, the best way I can say is "telepathic" as the information just came to me without words obviously but it certainly gave me the reason to believe that trees and botanical life not only are conscious beings but also have some sort of intelligence that is pretty high, the problem is that they can't do much, as you or someone else stated, they can't move, they can't speak, they are just there working silently for us all. And it IS a fact that without botanical life there would be no life, at least no life that depends on oxygene - so they are like silent workers that demands nothing and are there just to keep life going and to help heal, as it seems to me from these experiences.
Of course this was a personal experience, so obviously this is not something I can give any evidence for, but yet for me it was real and also in tune with what I've heard many other people claim about "contacts" with the botanical world later on. I was actually very surprised myself to have this experience and it changed a lot about my views on botanical life.
Then you have these other experiments people have done, from talking nice to their plants and giving them love and that apparently makes them healthier and grow better, while negative energies seem to make them more miserable - though these tests and experiments are somewhat disputed as I see from what people have posted, but still it seems to be something about it from many of the different experiments various people have done regarding plants.
An interesting note is that some plants contain chemicals that affects the mind of human, considering certain plants have these psychedelic properties, may the effects of this be that you temporarily emerge your consciousness with that of the plant? And why would a plant have chemicals that produce spiritual experiences, can it be part of the conscious makeup of the plant itself in a physical aspect just like our brain contains all kinds of various chemicals that gives different effects. Regarding psychedelic aspects, DMT is a part of the human brain, and plants containing DMT can trigger and release this and lead to profound experience according to those who've tried it.
This again leads to psychic abilities, as some people, including one on a forum I visit, have reported having psychic experiences and visions during the states induced by such plants, that have been verified to be real at a later occasion by several persons (such as the person somewhere in a forum who said he/she had taken some drugs with a friend and seen the Columbia shuttle explode a couple days before it happened or something along those lines)
So is an psychedelic experience always an hallucination, in other words an illusion? I would say not, that they can be real experiences that can and have been verified by people involved in them. For some it has changed their lives and led to great spiritual insights and complete new belief systems and way of living.
And to mention shamans, they also use these plants for divination purposes, from finding out who a thief is, to locate and heal diseases.
A good video about this is Shamans of the Amazon, here is a preview of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NZpOXj6u78
In the above mentioned video, the shaman makes a prediction regarding the guy who is making the documentary, and it turns out to be true. Also it contains interesting information, experiences and theories about these substances, including last ever interview with Terrence McKenna.
Even for those not interested in the spirituality, effects of psychedelic plants, shamanism etc, the video is still interesting as a documentary on the culture and lifestyle of the indians in the amazon and I highly recommend checking it out.
It's available as torrent at http://thepiratebay.org/tor/3296934/Shamans_of_the_Amazon
Ok so back to the topic, some people claim plants are psychic and have a consciousness, from my own experience I say that it is probable and seem to be that way as earlier explained from my own experiences. And when you also consider the fact that these plants themselves can give people amazing spiritual experiences and limited psychic abilities, there seems to be a link there as well regarding consciousness and plants.
For those interested in such plants and the effects they can induce, I recommend the series called "Sacred Weeds" which is a documentary produced as a scientific study on these plants and their effects:
So, do plants DO have a consciousness? I don't know for certain, but it seems that way to me from my own and others research and experiments and experiences. But I won't go as far and say there is no doubt about it, as more research and experimentation needs to be done in regards of this, unlike what I can say about things such as astral projection and human consciousness' ability to be separated from the physical body as that has been proven and tested and is beyond doubt. But there are indications strongly suggestion, at least from my perspective, that there is some sort of consciousness in plants.
So these things combined, with a couple other things that I'm too tired to write about now, basically is the reason why I think what I do about plants and consciousness , and as a final note to me the whole universe seem to be a conscious process based in the great mind of the All - whatever that is.
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