08/18 Shin-fukatoku



Mind Cannot Be Grasped [The former]

Shin means “mind,” fu expresses negation, ka expresses possibility, and toku means “to grasp.” Shin-fukatoku, or “mind cannot be grasped,” is a quotation from the Diamond Sutra. On the basis of our common sense, we usually think that our mind can be grasped by our intellect, and we are prone to think that our mind must exist somewhere substantially. This belief also extends into the sphere of philosophy; Rene Descartes, for example, started his philosophical thinking with the premise “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think therefore I am.” The German idealists, for example, Kant, Fichte, von Schnelling, and Hegel, also based their philosophies on the existence of mind. But in Buddhism we do not have confidence in the existence of mind. Buddhism is a philosophy of action, or a philosophy of the here and now; in that philosophy, mind cannot exist independently of the external world. In other words, Buddhism says that all existence is the instantaneous contact between mind and the external world. Therefore it is difficult for us to grasp our mind independently of the external world. In short, Buddhist theory cannot support belief in the independent existence of mind. In this chapter, Master Dogen preached that mind cannot be grasped, explaining a famous Buddhist story about a conversation between Master Tokuzan Senkan and an old woman selling rice cakes.