Are absences empty / conceptual constructions, according to all Buddhists? Or is it -- perhaps -- a fact independent of language that there is no elephant in this room? Does anyone know?

A key underlying principle of the vināśitvānumāna is that negative facts, such as absences, are not part of the ultimate furniture of the world, but are just fictional conceptual constructions, as they are devoid of causal powers.


  • Is this question different from buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/31223/… ?
    – user11699
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 15:41
  • yes, cos i'm asking about all buddhism, not just Dharmakirti thanks for reminding me tho @Erik
    – user2512
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


Are absences empty / conceptual constructions

I thought this answer implied that an absence is unconstructed:

So the absence of remorse is conditioned, but not being an existing thing, not having been constructed (sankharaed)-- it was the result of not-doing, is not itself subject to ending and is a small taste of Nibbana.

is it -- perhaps -- a fact independent of language that there is no elephant in this room?

I don't know -- sense-contact with the room gives rise to various perceptions, but none which I would label "elephant".

they are devoid of causal powers

You're saying that as if that's a bad thing. :-)

  • too meta for me, sorry
    – user2512
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 17:59
  • Just the the last sentence, or all of it?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:00
  • i just mean your referring to an answer in your answer ha
    – user2512
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:02
  • Almost all my answers have a reference. This reference was to an answer written by Mike Olds, who's the author/editor of obo.genaud.net -- I think that answers your questions about whether "according to all Buddhists" absences are constructions -- i.e. there's a straightforward sense in which an absence is unconstructed.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:08
  • 1
    It is nice, isn't it. That's all I know of him, except what he posts on this site occasionally. If his nickname is "ol'begga ols", perhaps he is or was a monk.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 7:21

Ākiṃcanyāyatana आकिंचन्यायतना or Ākiñcaññāyatana आकिञ्चञ्ञायतन (Tib: ci yang med; Chinese: 无所有处/無所有處; Jpn: 無所有処 mu sho u sho; Burmese: အာကိဉ္စညာယတန; Thai: อากิญฺจญฺญายตน or อากิํจนฺยายตน; Devanagari: /) "Sphere of Nothingness" (literally "lacking anything"). In this sphere formless beings dwell contemplating upon the thought that "there is no thing". This is considered a form of perception, though a very subtle one. This was the sphere reached by Ārāḍa Kālāma (Pāli: Āḷāra Kālāma), the first of the Buddha's original teachers; he considered it to be equivalent to enlightenment. Total life span on this realm in human years – 60,000 Maha Kalpa.

Taken literally, it implies nothingness and absences are empty.

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