There is a very fine line if any at all, between our concept of what we can consider as being living or dead. What is alive and what is inanimate in the case of what we consider being conscious. It is easy to try and understand that an animal is conscious in its own way, but what about plants, crystals or the earth? What evidence have we collected to state that they could be conscious or in any way could label them as alive? In this article I will provide some evidence of this claim and try to convince you that the lines between life and death are blurred are best. Humans can be separated into their own kingdom, both scientifically and spiritually, but we are not the only ones that are awake.
Dr. Lyall Watson, author of ‘The Romeo Error’ provides excellent insight into the nature of life and death and the problems we face to draw a definitive line between the two. He uses the example of a virus that parasitises on tobacco plants, the *mosaic virus*, and explains how it essentially function like sugar crystals, which we do not consider to be alive. In 1935 at the Rockefeller Institute in New York the mosaic virus was isolated and powdered into an inert substance that simply retains its atomic configuration in powder form. This powder remains lifeless and dormant without its host, just as sugar would. When a sugar crystal is placed in a container with sugar water under the right temperature, then automatically the sugar crystal will start growing until the sugar in its environment is depleted. Thus the activity of growth is limited to within the context it finds itself. The same happens with the mosaic virus, in that when specifically a tobacco leaf is reintroduced to its environment, the atomic arrangement becomes ‘alive’ again, taking whatever minerals it requires from the leaf to build itself up and replicate as many versions of itself as possible. Many viruses are known to lay dormant or *dead* for many years, such as the anthrax virus in bones. While field guiding in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, we were warned never to handle any bones found laying about the wilderness in the northern reaches, as the animal may have died because of the virus that occurs naturally in certain parts of the world.
Scientists still argue today on whether or not viruses should be considered to be alive or not. If then, a virus is not alive, yet capable of having an almost lifelike function, then what about other mineral arrangements, such as crystals. A crystal grows under a certain set of parameters, such as pressure, temperature and chemical composition available to it. Quartz, for example, is a simple arrangement of silicon and oxygen atoms that have been arranged in a specific order while forming beneath the crust of the earth. A crystal grows by means of replication, the base pattern or structure of the atomic arrangement is copied and built further upon the structure itself, not unlike coral. A virus, on the other hand, takes the required minerals it needs to build another one of itself from the environment, the same as a crystal would, but is not stationary and requires organic material to feed on. Both use replication rather than reproduction as higher forms of life would. This may not prove that they are living, but at least that they share attributes with what we consider living.
Bacteria, however, are considered to be alive and in the words of Dr. Watson, that ‘Bacteria themselves seem to be virtually immortal. After growing to an optimal size, which may take only twenty minutes, they simply divide and then the two new bacteria feed and grow and then divide again. Under ideal conditions in which no bacteria are killed by viruses or white blood cells, none would ever die.’ Our bodies are made of a mass of microorganisms that do their part to repair, protect and make us function. Every six or so years, every living cell in your body is different than six years before as they wear down and become discarded. These cells are biologically considered to be alive and even capable of making unique decisions and speedily reacting to certain influences on our bodies. The cells have their certain functions, they will attack, defend and repair the body where required and gladly perish for our survival. If we look at this phenomenon again, we can clearly see that we are in a state of life and death, constantly losing and building parts of our bodies. A state that Dr. Watson term ‘goth’. Thus out of chaos, the microorganisms that make up our bodies continually build up again, creating order. The same way that crystals and viruses within a specific applicable context are able to create order out of chaos. The question still remains on whether being alive, means conscious.
To answer the question of consciousness in ‘lesser’ forms of life, let us explore the discoveries of Cleve Backster, who’s name coined the term ‘Backster Effect’. Backster worked as an interrogation specialist training police in New York on how to use polygraph tests after leaving the CIA. In 1966, he discovered that when one places psychogalvanic-reflex electrodes (PGR) to a plant, that certain responses can be measured. To his surprise, he quickly noticed that even just the thought of damaging the plant with fire triggered a sharp and clear response on the device. He continued to experiment by boiling brine shrimp next to the plant in order to see if there is any response, they did. A distortion was picked up in the plant each time a brine shrimp was released into boiling water at random intervals, without Backster being present to ensure his own presence did not distort the findings. As Backster continued his experimentation he reached the conclusion that plants are conscious and able to perceive their environment. He called this ‘primary perception’. Many people around the world started researching this phenomenon and found that plants are not simply alive, but have a greater perceivable spectrum that we do, are able to communicate via pheromones in some extraordinary ways (at least five pheromones are standard to all plants, but more that a thousand has been identified) and also that they are capable of remembering and learning. Backster also found that even an unfertilized egg has a ‘heartbeat’ of its own. These discoveries raise massive ethical questions, but you can decide for yourself what you will do with the information.
The concept that the earth is somehow alive and conscious is not a new age spiritual idea, but one that is spread across various faiths and cultures around the world from time immemorial. The most well-known concept is the Greek idea of Gaia, or Mother Earth in present times. This one is much harder to find any scientific evidence for since mainstream science will not study a concept like this, after all, it was only in the 1960’s that we even discovered that tectonic plates exist and that they move. Before that, the idea of moving tectonic plates was simply ridiculous in mainstream science, now it is accepted. I am not coming down on science, we need it to advance and many times the spiritual answers are not acceptable either (so many exist after all). It is true that the earth balances itself out, whether this is a mere consequence of unbalance on earth, such as rising global temperature, or if there is a consciousness behind the decision is unknown. Some clues may lie in the spiritual knowledge of old and new but is in no way scientific. For example, the Hermetic concept of Mentalism as seen in the Kybalion. The concept of Mentalism is vast but comes down to the idea that everything is conscious in one way or another and can be separated into various consciousness levels, such as mineral, plant, animal, and human. Also, the entire universe is a conscious entity from the largest concept of the ALL to the smallest part of the ALL. Modern science in the case of Dr. Nassim Haramein, a brilliant mind in the field of quantum physics theorizes that energy and consciousness are tied to a unified field, where consciousness shapes the matter and world around us. It is obviously much more complex than the above explanation, but may be a step toward the scientific validation of a living earth. We can only hope.
I hope this very brief script has helped you understand the complexity of life that we are dealing with. It is clear that plants are conscious and capable of doing things that most of the world might never accept, but it is up to a few of us that can see through the facade to keep developing, researching and teaching these concepts so that they may never be lost. The idea that not only ‘living things’ but perhaps other things we consider to be dead are actually conscious in a way that we cannot relate to, but perhaps measure in the future. Either way, whether the earth and it’s creatures are conscious or not, we must still have absolute respect and adoration for the things outside of ourselves and this ball of brilliance we are tied to in the cosmos.
Keep well friends
Here is a brilliant Ted Talks on discoveries of plant consciousness by Florianne Koechlin. I hope you enjoy it.