Saturday, January 9, 2010

APPLIED BUDDHISM: PHENOMENAL AND MENTAL CULTIVATION

Bodhi Journal 2009; 14.
APPLIED BUDDHISM:
PHENOMENAL AND MENTAL CULTIVATION

ANKUR BARUA, DIPAK KUMAR BARUA, M.A. BASILIO


Buddhist Door, Tung Lin Kok Yuen, Hong Kong
Hong Kong, 2009

Communication Address of Corresponding Author:
Dr. ANKUR BARUA
Block – EE, No.-80, Flat No.-2A,
Salt Lake City, Sector-2,
Kolkata - 700091, West Bengal, INDIA.
Email: ankurbarua26@yahoo.com
Mobile: +91-9434485543 (India), +852-96195078 (Hong Kong)

APPLIED BUDDHISM:
PHENOMENAL AND MENTAL CULTIVATION


Abstract


In Buddhist perspective, the phenomenal and mental cultivations refer to the successful eradication of greed, hatred and delusion. There is also no cultivation without discipline, concentration and wisdom. Although the mind is the dominant factor of all, yet only through the body and the mouth can its activities be manifested. Thus, all the three aspects are indivisible and inseparable from one another. Since, the body and the mind are correlated and inseparable from each other, the cultivation of the one aspect necessarily involves that of the other.


Key words: Cultivation, Integration, Phenomenal, Mental, Applied, Buddhism.

APPLIED BUDDHISM:
PHENOMENAL AND MENTAL CULTIVATION

Introduction
The Phenomenal and mental cultivation in Buddhist perspective are numerous and diversified. Some of the common practices include sutra-reading, ritual worship, abundant offering and charitable practices, strict observance of the Canons of Discipline, Name-reciting, Ch'an Meditation, taking a journey to visit venerable monks living in secluded places and so forth. But by practicing some of these activities out of mere faith and following them routinely and meticulously in our day to day life will not lead to salvation or liberation from suffering. We must make every effort to understand the inner meanings of the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha wanted to live through his teachings or the Dhamma. Thus, idol worship, offerings and rituals were never advocated by the Buddha and he never encouraged them either during his lifetime.1,2,3

The first and foremost priority in Buddhism is the true interpretations of the Dhamma. The faith and practice are secondary and are not mandatory. The success to end suffering lies in the internalization of the teachings of the Buddha. We must train and retrain our bodies, mouths and minds to attain grand-mirror-like wisdom in order to visualize all the phenomena as truly as they are.4

Integration of Phenomenal and Mental Cultivation
In Buddhism, cultivation is classified into two aspects – (1) the phenomenal aspect of cultivation such as sutra-reading, ceremonial worship etc. which are referred as visible outward cultivation and (2) the mental aspect of cultivation which is subtle intangible inward cultivation such as self-introspection and looking into the mind. Since, the body and the mind are correlated and inseparable from each other, the cultivation of the one aspect necessarily involves that of the other. So, in the mental aspect there is the phenomenal and in the phenomenal aspect there is the mental. The better we understand the principle of cultivation, more serious would be our cultivation. In other words, more serious our cultivation, the better is our understanding of the principle. From this it may be seen that principle and practice should go together and there is no need to lean against one and neglect the other. As long as we can integrate the two aspects of cultivation harmoniously and are always mindful of the Law of Karma operating the process of cause and effect at all times.1,3,4


Applied Buddhism in Phenomenal and Mental Cultivation2,3,5
At the initial stage, we can start leaning the Buddhist teachings without developing any faith or belief at the beginning or performing any Buddhist rituals. Once, we understand the true meanings of Buddhist teachings and able to relate them to our own life, then automatically we shall start applying them in our daily practice.
Believe and faith in Buddhism would develop gradually as our mind starts accepting the Dhamma. But we should always remember that blind faith without proper interpretation of Dhamma is never encouraged in Buddhism. The teachings of the Buddha should always be accepted with critical evaluation and analytical reasoning for our true understandings.

Buddhism should be adopted and applied in daily practice as a philosophical, Psychological and moral foundation of our society and a way of life rather than a religion. As we often present Buddhism wrapped up in a cover of religion, the followers of other religious faiths often feel uncomfortable to learn Buddhism. They often suffer from a feeling of guilt and injustice in having wrong notion of deceiving their own religion and accepting another new one. As a result, some religious communities still possess a hostile attitude towards Buddhism.


Eradication of Three Poisons1,4,5
In Buddhist perspective, the phenomenal and mental cultivations refer to the successful eradication of greed, hatred and delusion. These are the three poisons which are the main cause for our attachments either to material forms or dogmatic views. It is the attachment of mind to material forms or dogmatic views that is responsible for all our sufferings in life.
So, all the Buddhist teachings are directed towards achieving the goal of eradication of the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion. However, the phenomenal and mental cultivation in Buddhism advocates intensive and incessant practice. It is only by cultivating on regular and repeated occasions that we could advance nearer the goal of Enlightenment.

If someone argues against the phenomenal and mental cultivations, he would be unaware of his own greed, hatred, stupidity, passions, prejudices and subjective thoughts and also ignorant of the objective reality of those phenomena. He would be as foolish as a patient in serious condition refusing to take medical treatment.


Purification of the Activities Involving Body, Mouth and Mind
All human activities generally involve the use of three aspects of the human anatomy as the body, mouth and mind. Although the mind is the dominant factor of all, yet only through the body and the mouth can its activities be manifested. Thus, all the three aspects are indivisible and inseparable from one another. This is same as the case of wave which is inseparable from water and itself is also water. So, illusion is also inseparable from truth. All activities, including the cultivation of mind, are manifestations of the True Nature. It is also appropriate to refer that all Dhammas are related to the cultivation of the True Nature. Hence, more the cultivation more is the manifestation of the True Nature and more the benefits of mankind.1,4,5
Practice of Discipline, Concentration and Wisdom
The phenomenal and mental faculties need to be trained and retrained to become pure and stainless. This is known as Mental Purification. In Buddhism there is no cultivation without discipline, concentration and wisdom. There is no Dhamma without discipline, concentration and wisdom. These three-fold studies are the basic tenet for learning and cultivating Buddhism. When the phenomenal and mental faculties are morally restrained, it is Discipline. When the phenomenal and mental faculties are calm and still, it is Concentration. When the phenomenal and mental faculties illuminate unobtrusively and freely, it is Wisdom.1,4

Discipline, Concentration and Wisdom are the triple functions inherent in the True Nature. In other words, these are the three aspects of the same thing. The fundamental objective of cultivation is to orient the body, mouth and mind to the True Nature by evoking these three functions.1,4

It is only by cultivating Buddhism in accordance with this fundamental principle that the beneficial effects of turning the mind from defilement into purity, from chaos into stability and from delusion into understanding may be achieved. We should finally realize that there is neither purity nor impurity; neither motion nor stillness; neither wisdom nor attainment of any sort. This is the fundamental expression of the True Nature.1,4


Conclusion
In Buddhist perspective, the phenomenal and mental cultivations refer to the successful eradication of greed, hatred and delusion. Although the mind is the dominant factor of all, yet only through the body and the mouth can its activities be manifested. Thus, all the three aspects are indivisible and inseparable from one another. Since, the body and the mind are correlated and inseparable from each other, the cultivation of the one aspect necessarily involves that of the other. So, in the mental aspect there is the phenomenal and in the phenomenal aspect there is the mental. In Buddhism there is also no cultivation without discipline, concentration and wisdom.1,4

With this background of the benefits of phenomenal and mental cultivations, it is now time to send a clear message to everyone for the eradication of all unwarranted apprehensions related to Buddhism. It has to be borne in mind that Buddhism never interferes with the socio-cultural or religious practices of any community. So, any person belonging to any other religious community can feel free to learn Buddhism and apply the Buddhist teachings in his daily life to end suffering, without changing his own religion or getting converted into Buddhism.2,3,5

References

1. Manabu, W. 2008. Self-Cultivation and the Body in Religious Traditions: From the Point of View of the History of Religions. Shūkyō kenkyū. Japan: Annual Convention of the Japanese Association for Religious Studies No66. 81(355):98.

2. Barua, A., Basilio, M.A. 2009. Applied Buddhism in Modern Science: Episode 1. Hong Kong: Buddhist Door, Tung Lin Kok Yuen & Unibook Publications.

3. Barua, A., Testerman, N., Basilio, M.A. 2009. Applied Buddhism the Foundation of Our True Understanding. Hong Kong: Buddhist Door, Tung Lin Kok Yuen & Unibook Publications.

4. Chatterjee, A.K. 1975. The Yogācāra Idealism. Varnasi, India: Bhargava Bhushan Press, the Banaras Hindu University Press.

5. Barua, D.K. 2005. Environment & Human Resources: Buddhist Approaches. Applied Buddhism: Studies in the Gospel of Buddha from Modern Perspectives. . Varanasi, India: Centre for Buddhist Studies, Department of Pali & Buddhist Studies, Benaras Hindu University: 90-6.

8 comments:

  1. 凡是遇到困擾的問題,不要把它當作可怕的,討厭的,無奈的遭遇,而要把它當作歷練、訓練和幫助。

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  2. 人生的光榮,不在永不失敗,而在於能夠屢仆屢起。 ..................................................

    ReplyDelete