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I've been a practitioner of Vipassana and Mahamudra for 2 years now. One thing quite bothering me is various explanations from different teachers on emptiness logically disturbing...

Usually, it goes like this:

The flower before you seems real. Now get closer, you no longer see flower, but just leaves, stem. Even closer, you "see" atoms, electrons, etc.
See? the flower is "empty" of inherent existence. The same goes for "self". Try search for the "self" in your thoughts, arm, leg, etc. and you would find nothing.

Of course I could appreciate this mentally helps in someway in practice. But something falls short.

First, it feels "outdated" to me, in a post-calculus world, that it denies the validity of an aggregate object, by pointing towards an infinitesimally small part of it. Zeno paradox?

Secondly, the requirement of "look closer" (or farther) seem to assert the perceiver model. That logic (or its inverse) would seem to imply that, "in order for something A to be truly existent, that thing needs to be A in all perceivable cases". That A would then seem to be only possible as some kind of "totality", or awareness itself. So that felt like a semantics game then.

I'm sure there're better ways to explain the Buddhist emptiness logic in a more modern compatible way. Please enlighten me.

Thanks!

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  • In a larger philosophical (outside of Buddhism) context, you may be interested in "Mereology" which is the branch of metaphysics that tackles the problems of composition. – tox123 Apr 1 at 15:50
  • Notice the mental constructs involved in wholes, in parts, in levels. – A rural reader Apr 1 at 18:09

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Your confusion is clear as day to me. :) As is the true meaning of "emptiness". The challenge is how to explain it to you in a way you can understand. :)

You are stuck on this idea of "object" being something that exists ontologically. Whether it's made of parts, whether it's a transient aggregate that will eventually fall apart, right now it is real, it exists, regardless of the observer, you say.

The problem is not that it does not exist. The problem is that in the ontological reality there are no distinct objects. Whatever actually exists is delineated into "objects" by the perceiving mind.

This delineation (identification of objects in time and space, and by their characteristics) depends on the scale and perspective of observation.

You think, first the objects exist, and then we identify them. But it is the opposite, first we pick our perspective and criteria (either deliberately or, more often, because we were conditioned to see things in a certain way) and then we delineate and designate objects. So what is it that exists before delineation? Whatever it is, it's not "objects". Let's call it Emptiness ;)

Because the range of your perspectives is very limited, it seems to you that the way objects are usually designated/delineated in our society is the only way that makes sense, and therefore it seems to you that this way to designate them is identical with their ontological nature.

Take a chair, for example. When we say "chair" is empty we don't mean that nothing at all exists out there. We mean that the delineation and designation of objects by e.g. humans, ants, and some hypothetical aliens is potentially different. An ant perceives chair as part of the landscape. An alien living a different temporal scale may perceive chair as a final phase in life of a tree.

And yet, a chair is a chair, you'd say, even if some other species ignorantly misperceive it. We know that this in fact is a chair, you say - and this is where you're wrong, according to Mahayana Buddhism. This is just a habit of anthropocentric thinking, that's all.

Of course most of the objects we deal with in our social reality were specifically designed for convenient usage in some pragmatic contexts. This tricks our mind into confusing their symbolical meaning in our reality (their pragmatic function) with their essence. But if you go outside human world, ambiguity of delineation/designation will be easier to spot. Take the clouds for example, or the mountains, or the water streams, or the natural species - especially if you observe them over long time. Do they have rigid well-defined identities? No, they are notoriously hard to delineate.

It's not just delineation though, it goes even deeper than defining spatial/temporal boundaries of our objects. The thing is, in the act of identification we focus on certain properties of phenomena and ignore other aspects or properties. If we were to focus on other properties we would not just draw different boundaries, our phenomena would be delineated by other measurements than their positions or sizes in time and space. Again, think about the boundaries of species, in what space are they located?

Everything exists in some way, sure, but nothing exists as conveniently separate, clearly identifyable, qualitatively static, and with its true workings perfectly matching our idea of its external appearance - as naive people and children tend to imagine.

Nothing is as solid as it appears.

This is what's meant by Emptiness, and the more your perspective expands the deeper it gets. It's not about existence vs non-existence, it's about conceptualization, identification, recognition, delineation, designation, reification - and getting mentally and emotionally attached to spatial/temporal/conceptual abstractions.

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  • I quite like this answer. I suppose there's still a subtle skeptic voice in my head that says: but wait, regardless of what "chair" do any sentient being perceive or how the boundary should be drawn .. the atoms/electrons are there! if it tries to move through it, it will encounter repulsion / gravity. Isn't that undeniable? – Seeker Apr 2 at 1:11
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    Yes but what does that prove? You used density as a key characteristic for identifying your object. If you chose magnetism, radioactivity, temperature, or electrical conductance as the key characteristic you would delineate a different object or objects. If you picked a different scale for measuring density, the difference between wood and air would be negligible. Etc. – Andrei Volkov Apr 2 at 2:19
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    The boundary of the chair isn't as clearly defined as you might think. If you go to molecular/atomic levels, its lowest point is already hovering above the floor and if you then use different models of atoms, you can also get different locations for that border, even inherently fuzzy ones (uncertainty principle). Or parts of dust have become integrated into the chair or into the floor or parts of the floor randomly moved into the chair or back, … Here's a good VSauce video on the topic: youtube.com/watch?v=yE8rkG9Dw4s In the end, a chair is just a collection of molecules (and … – Fabian Röling Apr 2 at 14:18
  • … more) that has been given a name. – Fabian Röling Apr 2 at 14:18
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I'll try to explain this from the Theravada perspective, which I think is more or less the same as Madhyamaka emptiness, once you analyze it deeply.

In addition to this answer, please also see "Linking Madhyamaka emptiness to Theravada emptiness through papanca".

From Sutta Nipata 4.14, we read:

"I ask the kinsman of the Sun, the great seer,
about seclusion & the state of peace.
Seeing in what way is a monk unbound,
clinging to nothing in the world?"
"He should put an entire stop
to the root of objectification-classifications:
'I am the thinker.'

Objectification-classification in this translation means the same as "reification".

Ven. Thanissaro, the translator, commented on this:

On objectification-classifications and their role in leading to conflict, see Sn 4.11 and the introduction to MN 18. The perception, "I am the thinker" lies at the root of these classifications in that it reads into the immediate present a set of distinctions — I/not-I; being/not-being; thinker/thought; identity/non-identity — that then can proliferate into mental and physical conflict. The conceit inherent in this perception thus forms a fetter on the mind. To become unbound, one must learn to examine these distinctions — which we all take for granted — to see that they are simply assumptions that are not inherent in experience, and that we would be better off to be able to drop them.

In our minds, we have the idea of "I am the thinker" i.e. the idea of the self. That's the primary object in existence in our reality. We also have the idea of non-self objects i.e. everything else. We objectify and classify everything around us, into non-self objects, according to their relationship to the self. For e.g. my hand, my car, not my friend, not my country.

When you look at the waters of the sea from up close in a boat, you may feel fear and insecurity, especially if you don't know how to swim and have motion sickness. To the sailor, it's a source of joy and adventure. To the fisherman, it's a source of livelihood and he sees it like a mine or oil field. To fish deep in the sea that has never left the waters, the concept of water doesn't occur to it at all, as it does not know any other reality.

Another example - a piece of cooked meat appears like delicious food to the meat eater, and it appears repulsive to the vegan. To a honey bee, it appears like dirt because it's not its food.

These examples go to show that objects do not have the meaning given to it by the mind. In fact, some of these are not even objects, except that they have been objectified by the mind.

What's a body of water to me is nothing at all (or perhaps everything) to the fish. The waters of the great sea, as a place to sail and swim, and as a body of liquid, doesn't really exist, except in my mind. It certainly doesn't exist in that way to the fish.

What's delicious food to me, is dirt to the honey bee. So, the delicious food doesn't really exist, except in my mind. The dirt doesn't really exist, except in the honey bee's mind.

This concept is called papanca, which is objectification plus classification, also known as reification. And it's related to anatta (the teaching that all phenomena is not self), because papanca is when non-self things are reified into objects and they are classified relative to the self. The idea of the self is also papanca.

This does not mean that things don't exist, except in my mind. It means that things don't exist as how my mind thinks it does.

Let's say you see images of attractive people on a screen. To an ant, it's just lights of different colors. If a mouse sees them - it's just an image of what it may perceive as humans - a threat. But to you, they are attractive people. So why are they "attractive people"? It's because that's how your mind objectified and classified them relative to yourself. That's how your mind reified them. That's papanca.

Fully enlightened persons like the Buddha and the arahants see things the way they are, without objectifying and classifying them relative to the idea of the self.

So according to Snp 4.14, to put an end to reification, you must first put an end to the root of reification, which is the mental idea of the self, the thought "I am the thinker". And the way to achieve this is to increase wisdom and weaken ignorance. That would weaken craving, clinging, becoming and birth (of the idea of the self). For this, please see this answer on the South Indian Monkey Trap.

And how do you increase wisdom and weaken ignorance? For that, we have the Noble Eightfold Path.

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    What is amazing to me about your answers @ruben2020 is that they are so correct and beautifully written, but you're explaining (quite eloquently) the Madhyamaka doctrine of all things lacking the self of things as opposed to the self of persons. As we've discussed in other forums, you've said you don't think the Theravada posits the lack of self of things and only posits the lack of self of persons, but here you are expertly giving an account of the lack of self of things. – Yeshe Tenley Apr 3 at 15:45
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Part of the "philosophy of science" (as it was taught me in Physics class in school) is that there are different ways of looking at things, different levels of details -- e.g. sub-atomic physics, then chemistry, biology, maybe ecology after that, astro-physics -- not to even mention sociology, psychology, maths, and so on.

So these are different "levels" (of detail), different "models" (of so-called reality).

More of that "philosophy of science" was about how they test and evolve their models.

Various models are (or are not) useful -- e.g. have "predictive ability" (predict the future), or "descriptive ability" (describe or help to make sense of past observations or so-called "facts"), and different models are (or aren't) useful in the context of different problems or different types of (experimental) observation.

I expect (without really knowing) that the Buddhist doctrine of emptiness may be similar -- i.e. that whatever model of reality we grasp is only a model -- and that grasping a specific model may be unfortunate or unhappy, or not as useful as being less attached (to a specific model or view).

For further details I might reference other questions tagged but perhaps you reviewed those already. My main question on the subject was What is the purpose of the Mahayana 'emptiness' doctrine?

And if it isn't only to do with (being an antidote to) having fixed "views", it's also to do with having (or helping you to escape from) fixed "values" -- by which I'm refer to Persig's description of value rigidity -- especially when the value, rigidity, or attachment is "harmful" or "useless", though that might be subjective or observer-centric ... or, might be universal, I mean, agreed on by "the wise" at least.

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Usually,it goes like this - the flower before you seems real. Now get closer, you no longer see flower, but just leaves, stem. Even closer, you "see" atoms, electrons, etc. See? the flower is "empty" of inherent existence. The same goes for "self". Try search for the "self" in your thoughts, arm, leg, etc. and you would find nothing.

Of coz I could appreciate this mentally helps in someway in practice. But sth. falls short.

First, it feels "outdated" to me, in a post-calculus world, that it denies the validity of an aggregate object, by pointing towards an infinitesimally small part of it. Zeno paradox?

As i understand it, this is close to what you are saying?

  • The expression presented to you is disagreeable as it assumes that one can indefinitely "zoom in" on a perceived object to perceive it's constituent objects and this is falsified by the zeno's paradox.

  • The expression presented to you is disagreeable because it assumes the existence of an object which becomes an object of perception, the object exists independetly of perception, the non-perceived object then becomes an object of perception when perceived and is spoken of as consisting of infinitely small elements. As you understand the expression posits objectification beyond a percepients frame of reference as well as an objectification of perception based on a particular frame of reference. This you disagree with on account of special relativity which demonstrates that one can not attribute the perceived qualities to what is thought of as not objectified based on the six sense media.

If this is close to the criticism you raised then you can rest assured that the early texts make it explicit that there is no objectfication beyond the six sense media and there are no objects repudiating the allness of the six classes of perception.

Perception is said to be conjoined with that which is called mind/consciousness/intellect and is thought of as principally arising as one thing and ceasing as another.

Perception and consciousness are thought of as conjoined because what one perceives that one cognizes. It is also held that what one perceives that one conceives; therefore the conception[formation] is also conjoined with percepience, what one conceives that one perceives, what one perceives that one cognizes.

Mind is spoken of as being the forerunner and creator of all formations but it isn't thought of as something persisting through time as one thing, it is an epistemological truth and inferrable element. It's cause & requisite is always past formations. Mind is thought of as conjoined with that which can be thought of as having an object and to be the conceiver & perceiver of that which is thought of as an object of that which has an object. Past, present & future classes[aggregates] of perception/feeling/consciousness/genesis have objects whereas the past, present & future classes of form [the perceived] are without an object.

The sematics are intricatly connected and are way to map & model the relations of inferable elements which can be established to be coming into play as one thinks about what is internal & external to what is thought of as a nervous system.

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  • Yes, my first objection (in response to teachings I heard from e.g. Geshe Dorji) is close to your first point ("... as it assumes that one can indefinitely "zoom in" on a perceived object to perceive it's constituent objects and this is falsified by the zeno's paradox.") – Seeker Apr 1 at 14:06
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Richard Feynman, who definitely lived in the post-calculus world, once pondered flowers down to the atomic level and beyond. Feynman would also gladly point out the vast emptiness between those very atoms. Importantly, Feynman continuously pokes at conventional perceptions of a flower as being "real" and notes that the perception of an aggregate is an experience mediated by particles and forces that don't have precise boundaries.

And, like Feynman, the Buddha recommended a deep investigation of emptiness at the limits of perception:

MN121:12.5: There is only this that is not emptiness, namely that associated with the six sense fields dependent on this body and conditioned by life.’
MN121:12.6: And so they regard it as empty of what is not there, but as to what remains they understand that it is present.
MN121:12.7: That’s how emptiness is born in them—genuine, undistorted, and pure.

Both Feynman and the Buddha were empirical--they both taught observation as the foundation for understanding. Neither Feynman nor the Buddha found ultimately reality in aggregates such as flowers, which are fundamentally empty.

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That's because there is no logic to it. Emptiness isn't apprehended by the discursive mind. It is perceived directly. One could roughly equate it to smelling. How could you logically describe the sense of smell to someone who hasn't had that perception? Any explanation you could offer would ultimately fall short.

Buddhist philosophy isn't a philosophy in a conventional Western sense. It isn't a set of ideas about ideas or even a set of ideas about the nature of reality. Buddhist philosophy is derived from the experience of emptiness, not the idea of emptiness. To come at it without that initial experiential knowledge is to undermine your understanding and set yourself up for all kinds of ridiculous misunderstandings (eg Yogacara is a kind of idealism).

When you come to see emptiness for yourself, the philosophy takes on a radically different character. The same words start to take on an entirely different set of meaning. Once you have developed your "emptiness sense" you open yourself up to entirely different way of understanding. Here, there is no logic. There is only seeing and knowing.

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  • There is much to like in this answer, but I'm afraid the first sentence can be harmful. There is no way to come at understanding emptiness or having the experiential understanding except through logic. Can you revise if you agree? – Yeshe Tenley Apr 1 at 13:33
  • I don't agree with that. Not at first, anyway. Emptiness is first noticed at the end of the breath, the spaces between thoughts, &c. Here, logic is going to be an obstacle. At most, one can say the statement "this is emptiness" is as much logic as is required for initial understanding. Later, sure, investigation is required to deepen one's experience. There is no furthering without vipassana. – user20010 Apr 1 at 14:08
  • I also think OPs concept of logic doesn't have relevance here. There is none of that logic in regards to emptiness. – user20010 Apr 1 at 14:11
  • Ok, then it sounds like we're talking about different things re: emptiness. Maybe your answer will help the OP the most, I don't know. Unfortunately, I can't change the vote unless the answer is edited (which I will if you edit it :) – Yeshe Tenley Apr 1 at 14:21
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    Eh. I prefer my phrasing. :) – user20010 Apr 1 at 14:54
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You're mistaken if you think that Zeno's paradox is in contradiction, or as you said in the comment section, disprove the zooming-in method of teaching you noted.

Read Shantideva quoted below and you will see clearly where the method ends. It is not about zooming into to subatomic level to deny the inherent existence of a flower. It is also not about different perspectives like an alien seeing a chair or viewing a flower with an x-ray.

Please also read Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (MMK) against Zeno's paradox and you will be baffled by the similarity.


A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life' by Shantideva ## ....

  1. Even the parts can be divided into atoms, and an atom itself can be divided according to its cardinal directions. The section of a cardinal direction is space, because it is without parts. Therefore, an atom does not exist. 354. Tibetan:"... Since the cardinal directions have no parts, they are like space. Therefore, atoms do not exist

  2. What discerning person would be attached to form, which is just like a dream? Since the body does not exist, then who is a woman and who is a man?

  3. If suffering truly exists, why does it not oppress the joyful? If delicacies and the like are a pleasure, why do they not please someone struck by grief and so forth?

  4. If it is not experienced because it is overpowered by something more intense, how can that which is not of the nature of experience be a feeling?

  5. [Objection:] Surely there is suffering in its subtle state while its gross state is removed. [Madhyamika:] If it is simply another pleasure, then that subtle state is a subtle state of pleasure.

  6. If suffering does not arise when the conditions for its opposite have arisen, does it not follow that a "feeling" is a false notion created by conceptual fabrication?

  7. Therefore, this analysis is created as an antidote to that false notion. For the meditative stabilizations that arise from the field of investigations are the food of contemplatives.

  8. If there is an interval between a sense-faculty and its object, where is the contact between the two? If there is no interval, they would be identical. In that case, what would be in contact with what?

  9. One atom cannot penetrate another, because it is without empty space and is of the same size as the other. When there is no penetration, there is no mingling; and when there is no mingling, there is no contact.

  10. How, indeed, can there be contact with something that has no parts? If partlessness can be observed when there is contact, demonstrate this.

  11. It is impossible for consciousness, which has no form, to have contact; nor is it possible for a composite, because it is not a truly existent thing, as investigated earlier.

  12. Thus, when there is no contact, how can feeling arise? What is the reason for this exertion? Who could be harmed by what?

  13. If there is no one to experience feeling and if feeling does not exist, then after understanding this situation, why, O craving, are you not shattered?

  14. The mind that has a dreamlike and illusion like nature sees and touches. Since feeling arises together with the mind, it is not perceived by the mind.

  15. What happens earlier is remembered but not experienced by what arises later. It does not experience itself, nor is it experienced by something else.

  16. There is no one who experiences feeling. Hence, in reality, there is no feeling. Thus, in this identityless bundle, who can be hurt by it?

  17. The mind is not located in the sense faculties, nor in form and other sense-objects, nor in between them. The mind is also not found inside, nor outside, nor anywhere else.

  18. That which is not in the body nor anywhere else, neither intermingled nor somewhere separate, is nothing. Therefore, sentient beings are by nature liberated. 355

  19. If cognition is prior to the object of cognition, in dependence on what does it arise? If cognition is simultaneous with the object of cognition, in dependence on what does it arise?

  20. If it arises after the object of cognition, from what would cognition arise? In this way it is ascertained that no phenomenon comes into existence.

335 According to the Panjika, pp. 245-246, the mind that is not in the body nor somewhere else outside the body, that is neither intermingled between those two, the body and outside thing, nor separate from the body and present somewhere else, is ultimately nothing, that is, it does not truly exist. It is only presented by mental fabrication. The samsaric mind appears like an illusion because it lacks an intrinsic nature. For that reason, sentient beings are liberated by nature, because the natural nirvana (prakrti-nirvana), which has the characteristic of the absence of intrinsic nature, is always present in the streams of consciousness of all sentient beings.

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  • Dogen: "All beings do not see mountains and waters in the same way. Some beings see water as a jeweled ornament, but they do not regard jeweled ornaments as water. What in the human realm corresponds to their water? We only see their jeweled ornaments as water. Some beings see water as wondrous blossoms, but they do not use blossoms as water. Hungry ghosts see water as raging fire or pus and blood. Dragons see water as a palace or a pavilion. Some beings see water as the seven treasures or a wish-granting jewel. Some beings see water as a forest or a wall. ... – Andrei Volkov Apr 2 at 23:51
  • ... Some see it as the Dharma nature of pure liberation, the true human body, or as the form of body and essence of mind. Human beings see water as water. Water is seen as dead or alive depending on causes and conditions. Thus the views of all beings are not the same." [...] "Water is neither strong nor weak, neither wet nor dry, neither moving no still, neither cold nor hot, neither existent nor non-existent, neither deluded nor enlightened." – Andrei Volkov Apr 2 at 23:51
  • ... "The ultimate realm has one thousand kinds and ten thousand ways. When we think about the meaning of this, it seems that there is water for various beings but there is no original water-there is no water common to all types of beings. But water for these various kinds of beings does not depend on mind or body, does not arise from actions, does not depend on self or other. Water's freedom depends only on water. Therefore, water is not just earth, water, fire, wind, space, or consciousness. Water is not blue, yellow, red, white, or black. ... – Andrei Volkov Apr 2 at 23:58
  • ... "Water is not forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or mind-objects. But water as earth, water, fire, wind, and space realizes itself. For this reason, it is difficult to say who is creating this land and palace right now or how such things are being created. To say that the world is resting on the wheel of space or on the wheel of wind is not the truth of the self or the truth of others. Such a statement is based only on a small view. People speak this way because they think that it must be impossible to exist without having a place on which to rest." – Andrei Volkov Apr 2 at 23:58
  • Yes, all good. But "Water" in that text means "Budhha nature". With that in mind, It will read very differently ... same as his other colorful teaching about Buddha-nature ... such as....... "when you cook you should invite the Buddha from the Buddha Hall and make the Buddha into the vegetables" – Epic Apr 4 at 21:46
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I think "Empty" here refers to, there is not an impermanent, unchanging essence, core, object or self that can independently (not depending on any conditions) exist. All existences (as oppose to "Empty") of object/self subjected to changes and impermanent nature, thus no one can hold on to the object/self, and decide by their wish "I want object/myself to be like this, not to be like this, etc. So long as conditions arises, the object/self will be like this, will be like that, and you are not able to hold on to it. Because of the nature of cannot be holding on, and there is not a permanent object/self that you can hold on to, I think this is why referring to "Empty", and "Empty" is not referring to the flower you see in front of you is not exist. It referring to the flower is impermeant, subject to change and if leaves and stem do not conditionally arise, you don't see the flower. Go further, if atoms do not conditionally arises in the leaves and stem, you do not see the leaves and stem, and hence do not see the flower. And, what is inside the atom? is a flux of energy. I hope I make things simple for understanding, but there are suttas available to explain this is great length in 12 dependent origination, 6 sense doors, 5 aggregates, and Anattalakkhana Sutta, all found in the Samyutta Nikaya.

Anattalakkhana Sutta https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.059.nymo.html

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'Reductionism' is not necessarily and not inherently related to Emptiness

The flower itself, as a whole, has no self (ego) in it.

Similarly, each of the five aggregates, including consciousness ('the looker'), has no inherent self (ego) in them, if the mind can see clearly enough.

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"First, it feels "outdated" to me, in a post-calculus world, that it denies the validity of an aggregate object, by pointing towards an infinitesimally small part of it. Zeno paradox?"

Notwithstanding, that this is incorrect... have a look at this for a very modern interpretation of Emptiness that is actually rooted in some of the most advanced understanding of basic QM that we have: Helgoland Here is one (of the many) articles about it:

Rovelli has a different idea. He says reality doesn’t exist. The reason physicists have been led astray by bonkers theories in the 100 years since Helgoland is because they can’t bear the thought of not being real.

It was at this point — a third of the way through the book — that I mimicked Heisenberg and took my first long, befuddled walk. Reality doesn’t exist? What on earth does that mean? Rovelli’s favourite example is a red chair. ‘Red’ doesn’t exist, for sure — everyone knows that philosophical chestnut: it’s just the way our brains make sense of light of a certain wavelength. But Rovelli also insists that nothing else about the chair exists either — its weight, its shape — except in its relationship to the person looking at it. And you can keep banging away at this type of argument until you get to the level of the atoms forming the chair. Insisting that anything about this red chair needs to exist outside of relationships is metaphysical neediness.

Emphasis mine.

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist known for his work on QM, gravity and his Relational Interpretation of QM. In numerous forums, (including this new book) Rovelli has expounded at length on his admiration for and deep respect for Emptiness and Nagarjuna and how it is related to his Relational QM.

IOW, I think it is likely that it is your understanding of Emptiness that is outdated and need of revision :)

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  • Hmm, the QM stuff is interesting, but seems quite irrelevant here. My Q was more elemental logic imo - why is an object considered "empty" if simply because it contains "parts"? Why Is car empty because it has tire when I look closer? – Seeker Apr 1 at 14:02
  • An object isn't "empty" in a literal sense meaning a physical lack of substance. It is "empty" of an intrinsic existence. It is "empty" of an essence. Emptiness does not mean a physical vaccuum. – Yeshe Tenley Apr 1 at 14:44

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