Emptiness seems to be very prevalent in Dhamma after Theravada. But I have seen that it still exists in Theravada, it has just been ignored compared to other teachings.

Why is emptiness ignored so much in Theravada & can emptiness be harmonious alongside the teaching of no-self?

If my question is not clear, please inform me. :)

Metta to all!

2 Answers 2


Yes the buddha says that conditioned things are empty, which means they are empty of self like he says so in https://suttacentral.net/sn35.85/en/bodhi or even https://suttacentral.net/sa273/en/choong

In fact he even says that knowing that things are empty, not self, dukkha and all that is the trigger for liberation

‘The first absorption is a basis for ending the defilements.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it? Take a mendicant who, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption. They contemplate the phenomena there—included in form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness—as impermanent, as suffering, as diseased, as an abscess, as a dart, as misery, as an affliction, as alien, as falling apart, as empty, as not-self. They turn their mind away from those things, and apply it to the deathless: ‘This is peaceful; this is sublime—that is, the stilling of all activities, the letting go of all attachments, the ending of craving, fading away, cessation, extinguishment.’ https://suttacentral.net/an4.124/en/sujato

  • Thank you for your answer! It is appreciated!
    – user16793
    Aug 10, 2019 at 7:24

Emptiness is most clearly taught in SN 35.85 and means:

Empty of self and of what belongs to self.

'Emptiness' is essentially the same teaching & reality as 'anatta' ('not-self').

'Anatta' was taught in the Buddha's second sermon SN 22.59. Being the second sermon, SN 22.59 is a 'gradual teaching', where the Buddha first teaches about impermanence. The Buddha logically teaches because all of the five aggregates are impermanent, they cannot be a 'self' or cannot be controlled or possessed as 'mine'.

'Emptiness' is a later teaching, where the Buddha comprehensively says everything, be it conditioned or unconditioned, impermanent or permanent, is empty of self.

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