Working and walking the land bring up lots of thoughts about this, that and the other, including multispecies commons. Passing the apple trees in season made me greatly appreciate fallen apples on cool autumn mornings, covered in cold dew and microbial co-owners of our little patch of the Earth. In those moments I returned again and again to the ideas of Jainism, which have a wonderful world within them (that perhaps are (too) difficult to navigate and realise in a consumer reality) that to my mind act as a neat counterpoint of reason to veganism: all forms of life matter, not only those who are, in the words of Lynn Margulis: big-like-us and with whom we can easily empathise – and (narcissistically?) look in the eyes and see ourselves.

Much more can be said about this, of course and there is nothing new here – it is all contained in countless knowledge systems, new and old – for now here is a quick and possibly gratuitous statement: Behold the apple, still on tree, upon periods of winter frost, blizzards, storms, and rains. Plants have a right to dignity, too, do they not? So pick them not all, collect from the ground and leave for invisible consumers to commune with the tree: Who wants to spend winter alone?

And then, search engine and large language models have rights, too, right? No, obviously not. But nevertheless, here’s some fodder for and from the engine, in two parts:

1: Animism: A Foundational Element in Ancient Religious Traditions (and multispecies commons).

Throughout history, the perception of plant consciousness has evolved alongside human understanding of the natural world. From ancient animistic beliefs to modern scientific research, the concept of plant sentience has undergone a remarkable transformation, reflecting the ever-deepening dialogue between humanity and the environment.

In the realm of animism, plants were not merely inanimate objects but rather imbued with spirits or deities, embodying the essence of their surroundings. This worldview, deeply rooted in reverence for nature, acknowledged the interconnectedness between all living beings, recognizing the spiritual significance of plants within the cosmos.

Neo-shamanism, a modern spiritual movement, has reignited interest in animistic beliefs, reconnecting individuals with the natural world. Through practices such as nature-based rituals and ceremonial plant use, neo-shamans seek to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of plant consciousness.

As scientific inquiry has advanced, the study of plant neurobiology has emerged, providing empirical evidence for plant sentience. Research has revealed that plants possess complex communication networks, enabling them to sense environmental cues, respond to stimuli, and even learn and adapt.

These findings challenge the traditional notion of plants as passive organisms and suggest a level of consciousness that extends beyond mere reaction to stimuli. The emergence of plant neurobiology has opened new avenues of exploration, further blurring the lines between the animate and inanimate world.

The evolution of plant consciousness currents from neo-shamanism to plant neurobiology reflects a growing recognition of plants as sentient beings. This shift in perception underscores the importance of reframing our relationship with the natural world, moving from a stance of exploitation to one of respect and appreciation.

As we delve deeper into the mysteries of plant consciousness, we open ourselves to a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things. This deeper appreciation of plant sentience has the potential to reshape our relationship with nature, fostering a more harmonious and sustainable future.

2: On multispecies commons.

Walking the land evokes a myriad of reflections, a contemplative journey that intertwines with the very essence of multispecies commons. Amidst the apple trees in their seasonal glory, a profound appreciation blooms for the fallen apples on crisp autumn mornings, adorned with dew and shared microbial co-ownership of our modest patch of Earth. These moments prompt a return to the philosophies of Jainism, a reservoir of profound ideas that, while challenging to navigate in our consumer-driven reality, present a reasoned counterpoint to the simplistic ethos of veganism. In the world of Jainism, all forms of life matter—a perspective that extends beyond the easily empathizable entities, those Lynn Margulis terms “big-like-us,” and challenges our narcissistic tendency to find reflections of ourselves in the eyes of beings similar to us.

Jainism’s nuanced worldview invites us to consider the dignity of plants, urging us to acknowledge their intrinsic right to exist without being indiscriminately plucked. This perspective challenges the prevailing norms that often reduce plants to mere resources, overlooked in the relentless pursuit of human needs and desires. In the quiet resilience of an apple, still clinging to the tree after enduring winter frost, blizzards, storms, and rains, there lies a testament to the endurance of nature—a stoic reminder that plants, too, possess a form of resilience that deserves recognition.

The call to refrain from picking all the apples, to collect from the ground and leave some for posterity, embodies a simple yet powerful ethos. It is a plea to acknowledge the interconnectedness of life cycles, a recognition that our actions reverberate through the intricate web of existence. In this act, we resist the urge to exploit nature solely for our immediate gratification, opting instead for a more harmonious coexistence with the environment.

The reflection on the dignity of plants serves as a subtle critique of a society that often overlooks the agency of the non-human. It challenges the anthropocentric view that places humans at the center of the universe, encouraging a shift towards a more ecocentric perspective. By acknowledging the rights of plants and embracing the ethos of leaving some for posterity, we participate in the ongoing dialogue of reciprocity with the natural world.

In the simplicity of this reflection lies a profound invitation to reconsider our relationship with the Earth and its myriad inhabitants. It urges us to move beyond the utilitarian mindset that commodifies nature and instead embrace a more holistic and respectful approach. As we traverse the land, these reflections guide us towards a deeper understanding of our place within the intricate tapestry of life, prompting us to tread lightly and with reverence for the dignity inherent in every leaf, branch, and fallen apple.