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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11
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7answers
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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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6answers
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What's the meaning of the Buddhist boy's message to Neo in the movie The Matrix?

In this scene from the first movie in The Matric trilogy, when Neo goes to meet the Oracle he meets the Buddhist boy who shows him that he can bend the spoon and then tells him that he can do the same ...
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10answers
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Logic of Emptiness still unconvincing. Please help explain

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 ...
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8answers
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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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9answers
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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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3answers
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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 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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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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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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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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2answers
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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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What is the "meditation on emptiness" in MN 121?

What is the "meditation on emptiness" in MN 121? What does "emptiness" refer to in this sutta? Also, what does "oneness dependent on the perception of ..." mean in this sutta? “Indeed, Ānanda, ...
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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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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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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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Sunyata is the truth and compassion is not an illusion?

It’s curious that if you study Buddhism you need to understand that Maya is an illusion and life is a product of cause and effect of past karma, so is deceptive. All my emotions are deceptive but ...
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1answer
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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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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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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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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 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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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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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 nirvana a conceptual construction?

Is nirvana a conceptual construction - empty in that way? For any / only some Buddhists. I'm just trying to figure out how extinction can avoid the extremes of eternalism and annihilation. If it is a ...
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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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In the doctrine of no arising does the past and future still exist?

In the doctrine of no arising does the past and future still exist, and if so do they exist in the same way as the present does? And if not, why? From Dogen's Genjo-koan: Firewood becomes ash. ...
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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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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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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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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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Is suchness, tathata, as a concept always something in addition to phenomena?

Is suchness, tathata, as a concept always something in addition to phenomena? If not, when we talk about the suchness of phenomena we could mean what they are like, the qualitative experience of a ...
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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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The paradox of the Bodhisattva Path (Bodhisattvayāna)

Everybody is born under his own Karma. Indeed, while respecting the Dharma, we need to follow our own paths. Monks live an undisturbed life inside closed communities apart from samsaric suffering. And ...
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What is the difference between Theravada "papanca" with regard to objects and Mahayana "selflessness of phenomena"?

In a previous question I asked whether the Theravada posits the selflessness of phenomena? Where the best answer I understood to essentially state that it does not. At least, it did sound like there ...
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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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What is Indra's Net, according to Mahayana Buddhism?

I have heard a 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 ...
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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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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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Do we have conventional knowledge of the present?

I read the discussion between Bhavaviveka and Buddhapalita, and there's a reference to "no cognition" (anupalabdhi) of emptiness, as liberative, though I forget which one of the two were ...
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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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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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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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Is non-emptiness empty?

The term "non-emptiness" appears in the literature. For example from Chi-tsang (madhyamaka): When the sutras speak of "the emptiness of visible form" this refers to its emptiness and lack of a true ...