Emptiness is described in a number of ways however i am interpreting it as interdependence and interrelationships. Is this an appropriate understanding?


More or less, in first approximation. Kinda. Well, not really. There are multiple levels of realization of Emptiness:

  • Understanding things as inherently impermanent.
  • Understanding things as made from infinitely nested parts and not having an internal "core" that makes them what they are, or internal "soul" or "engine" or "control center" that makes them function as they are.
  • Understanding things to be temporary combinations of causes and conditions with label stamped on top.
  • Understanding things as having no well-defined spatial boundaries if you consider that many parts of the environment that the things exist in are necessary for things to exist.
  • Understanding things to not have strict temporal identity retained from one moment to another.
  • Understanding things to be very loosely defined approximations.
  • Understanding things to be phenomena dependent on observation context and scale, therefore dependent on the observer for their delineation and designation.
  • Understanding that the observer that delineates things, is also a temporary arrangement of causes and conditions, that came as a result of an interaction of a large number of factors over a long period of time.
  • Understanding that the phenomena and the perceiving subject(s) are not separate entities but more like a sea of factors affecting and defining one another.
  • Understanding that phenomenal experience at moment to moment level arises in dependence on the above factors temporarily forming some configurations and ceases in dependence on the above factors moving on.
  • Understanding that phenomenal experience is a very loosely defined set of approximations, with labels stamped on top.
  • Understanding that existence at large does not have a single reference point other things/phenomena are defined against.
  • Understanding that even these feeble attempts at defining Emptiness are very approximate - and at best can merely point person in the direction of the infinitely complex soup of phantoms that is the existence.
  • Understanding the implications of the above to our day to day lives and our spiritual quest. (There are multiple sublevels here)
  • Internalizing all the above to the point when one no longer needs to think about it to have it be the basis of ones modus operandi.
  • Understanding that Emptiness is only a f***ing concept.
  • Going beyond all considerations about Emptiness.
  • Going beyond the beyond.
  • Going beyond the beyond the beyond.
  • Having no attachments to going or not going whatsoever.
  • Having no attachments to no attachments.
  • Having no attachments to no attachments to no attachments.
  • !
  • $#&$^&#^$&#^@$$^&%#^&$%&$%#^&$
  • let's see if I can help someone else get it.
  • I just might end up using some of the conceptual concepts especially Understanding that Emptiness is only a f***ing concept. Seriously though, what did you mean by not having an internal "core" that makes them what they are, or internal "soul" or "engine" or "control center" that makes them function as they are?
    – Motivated
    Oct 28 '15 at 7:14
  • Primarily I was referring to anatta vs. cartesian theater (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_theater)
    – Andrei Volkov
    Oct 28 '15 at 12:57

I would say yes, it is a [seemingly] valid understanding.

Usually, from a Madhyamika-Prasangika point of view, it is stated that:

The meaning of emptiness is dependent-arising; and the meaning of dependent-arising is emptiness.

See Tsongkhapa's Ocean of Reasoning, page 501... Geshe Lhundrup Sopa's Steps on the Path to Enlightenment, page 138, and so forth.

A simple example is as follows: the person is merely imputed in dependence upon any of its aggregates. The person is neither intrinsically one with her body (or any other aggregate), nor intrinsically different from it, but is labeled in dependence upon it. When I see John's body, I say "I see John", when I hear John's voice, I say "I hear John", when John's body is in the garden, I say "John is in the garden", and because his body is ugly, I say "John is quiet ugly". This is because John is imputed (and exists) in dependence upon that which he is not (he is not his body, he is not his voice, and so forth) but without which he would not exist. The meaning of emptiness [of inherent existence], according to Madyhamika-Prasangika, is that if you look for it with a mind analyzing the ultimate, you will not find it.

In Nagarjuna's Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning, it says:

It is said to be by the supreme knowledge of suchness, The seeing of dependent-arising, that what Is dependently produced is not [inherently] produced.

Dependent arising is called 'the king of reasoning' because it leads to a correct understanding of emptiness and avoids the two extremes.

According to Prasangika, they are three types of dependent-arising. It is a tenet unique to Prasangika.

  1. Causal dependence. Example: a seed and a sprout.
  2. Dependence in relation to parts. Example: short and long.
  3. Dependence on name. The meaning of which I explained in relation to John.
  • What do you mean by that if you look for it with a mind analyzing the ultimate, you will not find it? Is it not with the mind realization is attained?
    – Motivated
    Oct 28 '15 at 17:43
  • I also didn't quite follow the example of Dependence in relation to parts.
    – Motivated
    Oct 28 '15 at 17:46
  • @Motivated An eye-consciousness is a conventional cognizer. It 'apprehends', it 'finds' a conventional truth. Say you seek to understand what a cup really is. A mind analyzing the ultimate might engage in analysis called '4 essentials' for instance, and ask "Is the cup its color? Its shape? The material it's made of?... Is it cup intrinsically different from any of these?" Oct 28 '15 at 19:07
  • What such a mind (of ultimate analysis) finds is an absence. It didn't find the cup in any of its part, independently from them, and so forth. It found the absence of true existence. The mind analyzing the ultimate indeed finds, and therefore realizes (as you say), emptiness. Oct 28 '15 at 19:07
  • @Motivated Dependence in relation to parts: your body (as a whole) depends on its parts (which it is not). You hand (as a whole) depends on its parts. Even space depends on its parts (north, south, east, west). Emptiness depends on its part (its basis, its divisions, etc). Your hand is empty of inherent existence because it depends on your fingers. Oct 28 '15 at 19:12

Emptiness as Sunyata or Sunnata?
It has many meanings, Buddha used this term in meditation (jhana) and Nirvana. Jhana is conditioned so it is interdependence, where nirvana is not.


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