Maybe a strange question, but I wonder if emptiness (sunyatta) is also a characteristic of the state of nirvana?

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Yes, but if you look around nirvana is right here, right now. Nirvana is simply heaven on earth.

You might read The Heart Sutra Explained by Donald S. Lopez. It explains the fullness and emptiness of shunyata.


Actually, Nirvana... is something beyond emptiness. Emptiness (sunyata) is the stopping phase of cultivation. Nirvana is the "seeing" phase, where you transcend even that stopping, which is a type of total non-existence, still dual.

Nirvana is beyond all dualism. It is not existence nor non-existence. Heart sutra is reccommended.

Nirvana is a synonym for the enlightened state. The Enlightened state is beyond non-existence ("emptiness") and existence (experiencing the skandhas) and is capable of existing and exercising its function anywhere, no matter what, be it in hell or heaven. N onetheless, we must experience both sides fully, existence and non-existence before we can enter into the non-dual, indescribeable, open awareness of Nirvana.

Note: despite this, emptiness is still the first step, especially in this age where everyone is obsessed with materialism and existence. Finding emptiness IS the first step. You must make your mind empty and clear and must discover and BECOME emptiness, particularly through attainment of samadhi before you can truly succeed on the vipassana path. Of course, others have differing perspectives saying that "dry insight" is enough to get to Nirvana but I don't think it's that easy or even reliable as a path.

Calm your mind (emptiness, samatha practice, focus your mind on clarity), and see (Nirvana, vipassana, let go of everything and just witness).

  • Good answer, @Ahmed. (Also love your Cundi profile picture. ) – Methexis Jan 13 '15 at 18:42
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    @Methexis thank you! hail mommy buddha accepting of all as-is, can be chanted anywhere :) – Ahmed Jan 13 '15 at 21:04


Emptiness characterizes everything, including Nirvana and even emptiness itself.

Have you read the Heart Sutra? I highly recommend that for an example of the all-permeating nature of emptiness.


I think not: because "empty" is a characteristic of 'conditioned' phenomena, but nirvana is unconditioned.

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