Questions tagged [sunyata]

Sūnyatā (Sanskrit, also shunyata; Pali: suññatā), translated into English as emptiness, voidness,openness, spaciousness, or vacuity, is a Buddhist concept which has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context.

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Linking Madhyamaka emptiness to Theravada emptiness through papanca

From the different answers that I have received on various questions that I've asked, I have come to the following ideas: According to Mahayana Madhyamaka emptiness (shunyata), all phenomena is empty ...
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What is papañca

One word in Pali Canon seems to be especially challenging for translators to convey. This word is "papañca" (e.g. MN18, DN21, Sn 4.11, AN4.173). Some attempts at translating papañca include "...
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What is the difference between non-self and emptiness?

Non-self (anātman) and emptiness (śūnya or śūnyatā) are very similar aspects of the Truth of Suffering. So similar that they are hard to distinguish apart. What is the difference between them? (Or ...
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Are there different types of emptiness (Śūnyatā)?

Even though emptiness (Śūnyatā) seems like it should just be one thing (concept/experinece/realisation) does it in fact have different types? Can it be categorised in any way? I know Buddhism is very ...
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Emptiness in Theravada and Mahayana

What is the difference between the concept of emptiness (Śūnyatā in Sanskrit, or suññatā in Pali) in the Theravada tradition and the concept of emptiness in the Mahayana tradition? From my basic ...
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Mahayana view on why Theravada's anatta is insufficient to uproot ignorance?

A Mahayana-practising member wrote this comment: With respect, the Theravada generally has a much more coarse understanding of emptiness and anatta and is confused as to the object of negation. ...
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What is the purpose of the Mahayana 'emptiness' doctrine?

Another naive question... Further to e.g. this answer, which may be an overview of what Mahayana teaches about emptiness, my question is why does Mahayana teach that? I gather that the purpose of ...
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Is the Mind (Citta) the Self? If not, what is it?

It's been discussed in all perspectives that the Buddha was teaching about not-Self (Anatta) in this forum. However, it taught that one should empty the Mind (Citta) to realize Anatta, or Sunyata, in ...
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If Theravada doesn't posit the selflessness of phenomena, then how to interpret SN 22.95?

This question is closely related to this question and this question and this question. There is a Sutta in the Pali Canon that seems to explicitly reject that any of the aggregates is real or ...
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Is mathematics empty?

Buddhists say that everything is empty. Is mathematics empty? I thought that "empty" meant conceptually constructed. But how can the fact (not the expression) 2 + 3 = 5 not be a fact which is true ...
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Meaning of “Body is emptiness, emptiness is body”

In the Heart Sutra, Avalokiteshvara says to Sariputra this Body itself is Emptiness and Emptiness itself is this Body. This Body is not other than Emptiness and Emptiness is not other than this ...
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Difference between Theravada's self and Mahayana's intrinsic essence

With reference to this comment: An intrinsic nature, essence or characteristic that is unique to some phenomena that can be described as that phenomena's self. The self of chair would be that ...
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Is lack of inherent existence the same as 'not real'?

I'm reading Rob Burbea's book Seeing That Frees. The book is about ways of working with emptiness. In the book he says that things lack inherent existence. I'm fairly sure this isnt the same as not ...
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If no sentient being exists, for whom is there compassion? 'A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life' by Santideva

Quoted below is from 'A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life' by Santideva, Chapter IX: The Perfection of Wisdom. I'm struggling to follow the line of thought, can someone please decipher what it ...
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Judgment, Stereotyping, and Empathic Compassion

I am somewhat curious, following an answer to a previous question of mine, as to why understanding a person's background might inhibit judging them in a stereotypical way. I perceived this in my ...
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Difference between Buddhist and materialist views of no self?

This question follows from a discussion on the materialist, scientific reductionist understanding of no self, and was posted in a comment: In what way does the materialist view differ from Buddhism ...
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Is a dream object an existent? How about the face in the mirror?

The context for this question is contemporary Tibetan Buddhist Monastic debate and associated definitions as practiced at Sera Je Monastic University. I'm looking for answers according to the specific ...
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Does reality exist?

Does reality exist? Carlo Rovelli (a famous theoretical physicist) doesn't think so and he cites Nagarjuna as believing the same: Rovelli has a different idea. He says reality doesn’t exist. The ...
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Emptiness and physical pain

How can an understanding of emptiness help when experiencing physical pain, i have some understanding of emptiness from a mental viewpoint, and I understand that I can direct my mind to perceive the ...
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How does one Realize emptiness?

Are there specific practices, meditation instructions, intended to identify and realize/experience emptiness? Is this different than realizing non-self, or the emptiness of the self? or the emptiness ...
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Is Scientific Realism/Materialism and/or Historicity compatible with Mahayana?

In my estimation the answer is decidedly no, but I am interested to hear what others think from a Mahayana or Madhyamaka perspective. First, to try and clarify terms I am using scientific realism/...
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What is the Buddhist term for each moment being subtlety unique?

Read it a long time back, I remember it had something to do with someone meditating in a field of grass, and watching the wind go through the individual blades of grass and how they swayed. It was a ...
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How does the experience of “realisation of Sunyata” differ from “realisation of Anatta”?

In what ways does the experience of "realisation of Sunyata" differ from the experience of "realisation of Anatta", for the practitioner? The two aims are apparently non confirming, as far as I know, ...
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How can the theory of emptiness be true and yet the self still transmigrates and takes rebirth?

The Theory of "Emptiness" is the concept that all phenomenon are empty of inherent existence. Something has the illusion of existence when the right causes and conditions arise. Example: there is no ...
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Implementing Emptiness Practically

What is the manner in which those meditating on emptiness actually bring their contemplations into a practical, experienced form? In other words, how does insight (on emptiness) become effective in ...
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Virtual things that emerge from interaction and exist as interaction

According to this comment: "Form is like a lump of foam ... And consciousness like an illusion" (SN 22.95) means something more subtle and interesting, much more deep than just "empty of self". ...
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Spacious versus Empty

This comment says, True the world becomes more SPACIOUS when we focus on the moment and thus see that to save one life is to save the world. This is why it is important to translate spaciousness as ...
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Of the two extremes (eternalism vs nihilism) the latter is more harmful. Reference?

A common teaching in Mahayana is that of the two extremes it is better to fall into eternalism rather than nihilism. This advice is given by many Mahayana or Middle Way teachers. I'm looking for Sutra ...
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Is Chögyal Namkhai Norbu correct when he says our life is unreal and that Buddha taught that life is just like a dream?

In this video clip you can see renowned Tibetan master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu saying that life is unreal and that the Buddha taught it is just like a dream. Is he correct? I've transcribed below: ...
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Is uncertainty incompatible with the doctrine of emptiness?

For purposes of this question I define “uncertainty” as a willingness to entertain doubt or acknowledge incomplete knowledge with regards to the truth of the matter about what one knows of a ...
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What arguments are there for “karma” — that the agent inevitably experiences the result of their actions?

There are philosophical arguments for e.g. 'emptiness', as evidenced by it having sections in philosophy encyclopedias. Whether or not you agree with them, probably depends on your language and pre-...