Question: Having gotten a bonsai plant, I realised that pruning it needs much effort, using wires and such to unnaturally direct its growth. Scarring the plant too, this bending of nature to satisfy human ego seems ‘cruel’. Will I create negative karma by continuing to make the plant ‘suffer’? What confuses me more is that bonsai plants are associated with Zen culture as a contemplative art.
Answer: It is not cruel as plants are not sentient beings, though they are lifeforms to be respected; not to be damaged or destroyed for no good reason. Since plants are not sentient, any suffering would be on your part; not the plant. Unless care for it leads to harm of sentient beings like insects, it should not create negative karma.
If you see assertion of your ego at play, the challenge is to care for the plant with as little ego as possible. For example, you can let the plant grow freely, while caring for it, or give it away, or even ‘release’ it into nature.
What If Plants Feel Pain Too?