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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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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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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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Which book by Nagarjuna provides an introduction to his teachings?

I've noticed there are a lot of YouTube video lectures on Nagarjuna. It seems he was a very prolific writer on Mahāyāna Buddhist philosophy. Which of his works would be appropriate to get an ...
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Why should Mahayana practitioners strive for anything at all?

In the Theravada tradition: There is no self in all phenomena (including the five aggregates). The five aggregates and the rest of nature and the world is always changing and not permanent (anicca). ...
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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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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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How to make sense of the Heart Sutra

I am very interested in the concept of emptiness and freeing myself of all attachments. Naturally I gravitated towards the heart sutra, the chant in particular is very moving. However I am completely ...
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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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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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Is emptiness interdependence and interrelationship?

Emptiness is described in a number of ways however i am interpreting it as interdependence and interrelationships. Is this an appropriate understanding?
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Playing repetitve music as meditation practice

The way I see it, music (like everything else?) is empty of inherent existence. This is not obvious. Plato and Aristotle believed that harmonies and rythm express/represents "charachters". Contrary to ...
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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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Does Theravadin analysis distinguish between implicative and absolute negations?

In Beacon of Certainty (tr. Pettit), Mipham Rinpoche addresses key questions about how to practice based on Madhyamaka philosophy. The first question has to do with distinguishing absolute negation ...
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What *is* intrinsically real? Is the “unconditioned”, “absolute”, or “ultimate” intrinsically real?

To better see the relative, insubstantial nature of phenomena, maybe it is helpful to think about this another way, that is, seeing what is not relative, not conditioned, not empty. It has been said ...
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What is the phantom in the conclusion of the Diamond Sutra?

This is the version I am referring to: Thus shall ye think of this fleeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; A flash of lightning in a summer cloud; A flickering lamp, a phantom, ...
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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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Earliest usage of “rope or snake” allegory in Buddhist literature?

The allegory of a rope being mistaken for a snake to explain subtle metaphysical points is widespread in Buddhist literature. In particular, Je Tsongkhapa uses this allegory many times in his works to ...
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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 does it mean when something has “no self-nature”?

I was reading on some later Buddhist and Mahayana sutras and kept seeing the principles along the lines of "all phenomenon have no nature of their own and are thus empty." I've studied on scriptures ...
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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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Notion of good and bad in Buddhism

if I understand correctly, Buddhism is opposed to dualistic concepts: Us vs. them, beautiful vs. ugly, pain vs. pleasure. We should rather realise the emptiness of those constructs in order to see the ...
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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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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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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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The emptiness of nirvana

Maybe a strange question, but I wonder if emptiness (sunyatta) is also a characteristic of the state of nirvana?
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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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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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Is the Mahayana shunyata same as the Theravada papanca?

I originally wondered whether the Mahayana shunyata (emptiness) is same as the Theravada sankhara (conditioned and compounded phenomena). The problem here is that Mahayana shunyata says even Nibbana ...
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Varieties of emptiness

Does anyone have a good tip for literature about different varieties of rangtong (empty of self) and shentong (empty of other) perspectives on emptiness?
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Silence and emptiness

I never understood silence or emptiness in Buddhism and how is experiencing them beneficial?.Is it a way for experiencing the arising of experience ?
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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 Indra's Net, according to Mahayana Buddhism?

I have heard lot about "Indra's Net". A wiki says that it describes how emptiness and dependent origination are creating the universe. Can anyone provide me a link and book which I should read, to ...
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Question about the contrast between Buddhist statements and Christian doctrine

In the Christian Bible (especially in the Book of John), Jesus often talked about Himself as using phrases like: I am the light of the world I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be ...
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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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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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The idea of “no cognition” and the present

I read the discussion between Bhavaviveka and Buddhapalita, and there's reference to "no cognition" (anupalabdhi) of emptiness, as liberative, though I forget which one of the two were supporting it. ...
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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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Does Nagarjuna's Middle Treatise 24:18 teach real knowledge?

I like this verse, it is simply stated, and I like simple statements that can be made into something, or understood as, important. But I'm totally unsure how to make sense of its four (famous) ...
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Emptiness and one taste

Might it be true that emptiness can be conceived of as the one taste of mind: that the world of mind has only one reality which is everywhere and always the same, unchanging. Who (which groups or ...
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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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What does Buddhism say about the existence of a self?

Anatta and Sunyata doctrines from the Tripitaka and later Mahayana/Parjnaparimata sutras both have mentioned "not-self" or "empty of self" doctrines. I am still a bit confused, though, even after ...
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1answer
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Does truth of emptiness imply that nothing existent ever ends?

Can emptiness be understood as a conservation law? In other words, is it true that to posit a true end to any existent is to necessarily presuppose that it truly existed before it ended? Another way ...
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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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What does Robert M. Pirsig's “Quality” correspond to in Buddhism?

The concept of "Quality" relates to the direct experience of the moment, as described in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was wondering if this has a parallel in Buddhism? To me, ...
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What sutta refers to 'emptiness in small space'?

I remember reading about one sutta "emptiness in small gap". Since consciousness (Vijñāna) raises and falls all the time, between each consciousness there is a very small and briefest gap where ...
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Causation without causes

I just reread Bachelor's translation of MMK. It struck me that the argument against causation was that: A cause has no essence in addition to what it is, else it would not be the final cause. But it ...
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Does any buddhist school, extant or otherwise, say that there is no svabhava what-so-ever?

Does any buddhist school, extant or otherwise, say that there is no svabhava what-so-ever? I was thinking maybe an early school without the abhidahrma (mahasanghika) or perhaps prasangika-yogaraca in ...
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Does the Buddha's concept of Citta contradict the Mahayana doctrine of emptiness?

In the suttas quoted in this answer, the Buddha describes the Citta as pure, free from defilement and transcending the 5 aggregates, and its liberation from samsara as the highest aim of his teaching. ...
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Emptiness and Mental Disposition

Upon reading Andrei Volkov's answer on this post, I am stricken by a deep questioning. My two questions are: (1) can emptiness be unsuitable for some dispositions? and (2) can emptiness be partially ...