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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.

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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

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grand-mirror-like wisdom in order to visualize all the phenomena as truly as

they are.4

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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

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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

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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

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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;

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neither motion nor stillness; neither wisdom nor attainment of any sort. This

is the fundamental expression of the True Nature.1,4

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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

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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.

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