Tathata has been described as the ultimate goal of Buddhism. What is tathata? What is the closest thing we experience in everyday life close to tathata? How can we attain knowledge of tathata?

  • Consider the Nonduality Tag.
    – user2341
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


For starters, here is the Theravada perspective, with some quotes:

THUSNESS (by ven. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu)

Now, we come to the fourth and last topic: tathata (suchness, thusness). "Merely thus," "just such": everything is such as it is and in no way different from that thusness. This is called "tathata." When tathata is seen, the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha, and anatta are seen, sunnata is seen, and idappaccayata is seen. Tathata is the summary of them all -- merely thus, only thus, not-otherness. There is nothing better than this, more than this, other than this, thusness. To intuitively realize tathata is to see the truth of all things, to see the reality of the things which have deceived us. The things which delude us are all the things which cause discrimination and duality to arise in us: good-evil, happiness-sadness, win-lose, love-hate, etc. There are many pairs of opposites in this world. By not seeing tathata, we allow these things to trick us into believing in duality: this-that, liking-disliking, hot-cold, male-female, defiled, enlightened. This delusion causes all our problems. Trapped in these oppositions, we can't see the truth of things. We fall into liking and disliking, which in turn leads to the defilements, because we don't see tathata.

From SN 12.20:

Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā – ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamuppādo.

What's there in this way is a reality, not an unreality, not other than what it seems, conditioned by this/that. This is called dependent co-arising. (Thanissaro)

Thus bhikkhus, the actuality in this, the inerrancy, the not-otherwiseness, specific conditionality: this is called dependent origination. (Bhikkhu Bodhi)

From AN 4.24:

A Tathagata is a seer of what is to be seen, but he does not mind the seen, the unseen, the seeable, the seer. So likewise with the heard, the sensed and the cognized: he thinks of none of these modes of theirs. Therefore among things seen, heard, sensed and cognized he is precisely 'such'. Moreover, than he who is 'such' there is no other 'such' further or more excellent.

So, tathata is the culmination of the Third Noble Truth, cessation of suffering. When you no longer crave any experiences, don't avert any experiences, don't project any delusions onto your experience - when there is no longer a mismatch between "this" and imaginary "that" - that's tathata.

  • What is the difference between suchness and voidness/nothingness?
    – Gokul NC
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 9:10
  • The way I see it, shunyata is more like an in depth insight or a realization of how things are in general, while tathata is your first person experience of everything once you have internalized shunyata.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 12:35
  • You got your Question. A couple years ago, the first time I ran in to another Neo, she was trying to see if we had had the same experience. After talking for an hour she finally asked, "OK, so how would you say exactly what it is?" I flipped my hands out at my sides, palms upward. She said, "That's it." So we knew we understood each other. Neo is still a Self state, so I would say it accords with Shunyata. Nonduality is beyond that, and accords with this description of Tathata. There is nothing mystical about it. Try to get people to realize that though? They build it up to something else.
    – user2341
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 13:18
  • It is beyond non-duality. Chogyam Trungpa was pretty clear about it. My Zen Master was very clear about it. And now I am rather clear about it. Non-duality is still a form. Emptiness is still a form. Even flipping your hands is a position. My friends and I flipped our hands and said Ehhh about non-duality back in 1995! Tathata is far beyond that, beyond any clinging. Beyond self, beyond non-self, and beyond the beyond. There is nothing mystical about it. Drop your nonduality and hopefully you will see what I mean.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 14:09
  • 1
    Hmm... good question... I guess it depends on a person. Apparently some people can dive into Tathata head on, but most have to work on Shunyata asymptotically - until their experience becomes Tathata.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 16:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .