Gregory BURGIN


This paper presents how the Sōtō Zen priest, Kōshō Uchiyama, and the mercurial and polarizing German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, approach what the former calls “opening the hand of thought” (omoi no te banashi). For Uchiyama, the metaphoric opening of our mental hand requires the meditative practice of zazen or “just sitting” (shikantaza) and is said to mean that we avoid the act of thinking. Conversely, Heidegger maintains that the “releasement” (Gelassenheit) of our conceptual grasp is the basis of a more essential and “meditative” mode of thinking and discourse (besinnliches Denken). While Uchiyama and Heidegger appear to be at odds, their approaches are in fact compatible. By engaging in a cross-tradition examination of these two thinkers, I provide an original contribution about how both Uchiyama and Heidegger view opening the hand of thought as the critical step toward a more attuned and compassionate mode of thinking and discourse.