Monday, 30 April 2018


213. The word 'mind' makes a frequent appearance in the literature of Zen. And given the light that contemporary scholarship throws on discussions about Zen, we might reasonable expect that these discussions would also benefit from insights to be found in what in the West is called 'Philosophy of Mind'. But here we are faced with several 'buts'. First of all, as several scholars have pointed out, it is not only inadequate but also misleading to translate the Chinese character shin as 'mind'. Rather, we are told, it should be translated as 'heart-mind' for 'throughout all Buddhist literature, when one is talking about "mind," one is talking about the total package of the psycho-emotional network', and this is especially the case in Chinese understanding (see Mu Soeng's Trust in Mind). Perhaps we should go further and speak rather of the 'body-heart-mind'. And, secondly, this Zen understanding would jar with any Western philosophy of mind that thinks in terms of the Cartesian dualism between res cogitans and res extensa. Such a 'ghost in the machine' view of mind is a far cry from the Zen realization that 'mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and the stars' (Dogen). 

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