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ŚūNYATā (Sanskrit; Pali: suññatā), translated into English as emptiness and voidness, is a Buddhist concept which has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. It is either an ontological feature of reality, a meditation state, or a phenomenological analysis of experience.

In Theravada Buddhism
Buddhism
, suññatā often refers to the not-self (Pāli: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman) nature of the five aggregates of experience and the six sense spheres . Suññatā is also often used to refer to a meditative state or experience.

In Mahayana, Sunyata
Sunyata
refers to the precept that "all things are empty of intrinsic existence and nature," but may also refer to the Buddha-nature teachings and primordial or empty awareness, as in Dzogchen
Dzogchen
and Shentong.

Śūnyatā
Śūnyatā
also influenced some schools of Hindu philosophy .

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology * 2 Development of the concept

* 3 Early Buddhism
Buddhism

* 3.1 Pāli Nikāyas

* 3.1.1 Emptiness of dhammas * 3.1.2 Meditative state

* 3.2 Chinese Āgamas

* 4 Early Buddhist schools and Abhidharma * 5 Theravada

* 6 Mahayana Buddhism
Buddhism

* 6.1 Prajna-paramita Sutras

* 6.2 Mādhyamaka

* 6.2.1 Nagarjuna * 6.2.2 Prasaṅgika * 6.2.3 Svatantrika * 6.2.4 Nihilism and eternalism

* 6.3 Buddha-nature

* 6.3.1 Srimala Sutra
Sutra
* 6.3.2 Scholarly opinions

* 6.4 Yogacara

* 6.5 Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism

* 6.5.1 Sakya * 6.5.2 Jonang * 6.5.3 Gelugpa * 6.5.4 Bon

* 6.6 Chinese Buddhism
Buddhism

* 6.6.1 Chán

* 6.7 Western Buddhism
Buddhism

* 7 Hinduism

* 7.1 Influence on Advaita Vedanta * 7.2 In Shaivism
Shaivism
* 7.3 In Vaishnavism

* 8 Alternate translations * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 References

* 12 Sources

* 12.1 Primary * 12.2 Secondary

* 13 External links

ETYMOLOGY

"Śūnyatā" ( Sanskrit
Sanskrit
) is usually translated as "devoidness," "emptiness," "hollow, hollowness," "voidness." It is the noun form of the adjective śūnya or śhūnya, plus -tā:

* śūnya means "zero," "nothing," "empty" or "void". Śūnya comes from the root śvi, meaning "hollow". * -tā means "-ness";

DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONCEPT

Over time, many different philosophical schools or tenet-systems (Sanskrit: siddhānta) have developed within Buddhism
Buddhism
in an effort to explain the exact philosophical meaning of emptiness.

After the Buddha, emptiness was further developed by the Abhidharma schools, Nāgārjuna and the Mādhyamaka school, an early Mahāyāna school. Emptiness ("positively" interpreted) is also an important element of the Buddha nature literature, which played a formative role in the evolution of subsequent Mahāyāna doctrine and practice.

EARLY BUDDHISM

Main article: Presectarian Buddhism
Buddhism

PāLI NIKāYAS

A simile from the Pali
Pali
scriptures (SN 22.95) compares form and feelings with foam and bubbles. See also: Sati (Buddhism)

The Pali
Pali
canon uses the term emptiness in three ways: "(1) as a meditative dwelling, (2) as an attribute of objects, and (3) as a type of awareness-release."

Emptiness Of Dhammas

According to Bhikkhu Analayo :

In the Pāli discourses the adjective suñña occurs with a much higher frequency than the corresponding noun suññatā. This is not a matter of mere philological interest, but points to an emphasis in early Buddhism
Buddhism
on qualifying phenomena as `being empty' rather than on an abstract state of empty-`ness'."

One example of this usage is in the phena sutta, which states that on close inspection, each of the five aggregates are seen as being vain, void and unsubstantial, like a lump of foam .

The Suñña Sutta, part of the Pāli canon , relates that the monk Ānanda , Buddha\'s attendant asked,

It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?" The Buddha replied, "Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ānanda, that the world is empty.

According to Thanissaro Bhikku :

Emptiness as a quality of dharmas , in the early canons, means simply that one cannot identify them as one's own self or having anything pertaining to one's own self Emptiness as a mental state, in the early canons, means a mode of perception in which one neither adds anything to nor takes anything away from what is present, noting simply, "There is this." This mode is achieved through a process of intense concentration, coupled with the insight that notes more and more subtle levels of the presence and absence of disturbance (see MN 121).

Meditative State

Emptiness as a meditative state is said to be reached when "not attending to any themes, he enters text-decoration: none">ṇihito).

The meaning of emptiness as contemplated here is explained at M I.297 and S IV.296-97 as the "emancipation of the mind by emptiness" (suññatā cetovimutti) being consequent upon the realization that "this world is empty of self or anything pertaining to self" (suññam idaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā).

The term "emptiness" (suññatā) is also used in two suttas in the Majjhima Nikāya, in the context of a progression of mental states. The texts refer to each state's emptiness of the one below.

CHINESE ĀGAMAS

Some of the Sarvāstivādin Agama sutras (extant in Chinese) which have emptiness as a theme include Samyukta Agama 335 - Paramārtha-śunyatā-sūtra ( Sutra
Sutra
on ultimate emptiness) and Samyukta Agama 297 - Mahā-śunyatā-dharma-paryāya (Greater discourse on emptiness). These sutras have no parallel Pali
Pali
suttas. These sutras associate emptiness with dependent origination , which shows that this relation of the two terms was already established in pre- Nagarjuna sources. The sutra on great emptiness states:

"What is the Dharma
Dharma
Discourse on Great Emptiness? It is this— ‘When this exists, that exists; when this arises, that arises.’"

The phrase "when this exists..." is a common gloss on dependent origination . Sarvāstivādin Agamas also speak of a certain emptiness samadhi (śūnyatāsamādhi) as well as stating that all dharmas are "classified as conventional".

Mun-Keat Choong and Yin Shun have both published studies on the various uses of emptiness in the early Buddhist texts ( Pali
Pali
Canon and Chinese Agamas ). Choong has also published a collection of translations of Agama sutras from the Chinese on the topic of emptiness.

EARLY BUDDHIST SCHOOLS AND ABHIDHARMA

Many of the early Buddhist schools featured sunyata as an important part of their teachings.

The Sarvastivadin school's Abhidharma texts like the Dharmaskandhapāda Śāstra, and the later Mahāvibhāṣa also take up the theme of emptiness vis a vis dependent origination as found in the Agamas.

Schools such as the Mahāsāṃghika Prajñaptivādins as well as many of the Sthavira schools (except the Pudgalavada ) held that all dharmas were empty (dharma śūnyatā). This can be seen in the early Theravada Abhidhamma
Abhidhamma
texts such as the Patisambhidamagga which also speak of the emptiness of the five aggregates and of svabhava as being "empty of essential nature". The Theravada Kathavatthu also argues against the idea that emptiness is unconditioned.

One of the main themes of Harivarman's Tattvasiddhi -Śāstra (3rd-4th century) is dharma -śūnyatā, the emptiness of phenomena.

THERAVADA

Theravada Buddhists generally take the view espoused in the Pali canon , that emptiness is merely the not-self nature of the five aggregates as well as a mode of perception which is "empty of the presuppositions we usually add to experience to make sense of it" - especially that of unchanging selfhood. Therefore, some Theravadan teachers like Thanissaro Bhikku hold that emptiness is not so much a metaphysical view, as it is a strategic mode of acting and of seeing the world which leads to liberation:

The idea of emptiness as lack of inherent existence has very little to do with what the Buddha himself said about emptiness. His teachings on emptiness — as reported in the earliest Buddhist texts, the Pali Canon — deal directly with actions and their results, with issues of pleasure and pain. To understand and experience emptiness in line with these teachings requires not philosophical sophistication, but a personal integrity willing to admit the actual motivations behind your actions and the actual benefits and harm they cause.

Some Theravadins such as David Kalupahana , see Nagarjuna 's view of emptiness as compatible with the Pali
Pali
Canon . In his analysis of the Mulamadhyamikakarika , Kalupahana sees Nagarjuna's argument as rooted in the Kaccānagotta Sutta (which Nagarjuna cites by name). Kalupahana states that Nagarjuna's major goal was to discredit heterodox views of Svabhava (own-nature) held by the Sarvastivadins and establish the non-substantiality of all dharmas. According to Peter Harvey, the Abhidhamma
Abhidhamma
theory of the Theravadins is not based on the kind of Svabhava that Nagarjuna was critiquing: "They are dhammas because they are upheld by conditions or they are upheld according to their own nature' (Asl.39). Here 'own-nature' would mean characteristic nature, which is not something inherent in a dhamma as a separate ultimate reality, but arise due to the supporting conditions both of other dhammas and previous occurrences of that dhamma. This is of significance as it makes the Mahayana critique of the Sarvastivadin's notion of own-nature largely irrelevant to the Theravada."

Emptiness as an approach to meditation is seen as a state in which one is "empty of disturbance." This form of meditation is one in which the meditator becomes concentrated and focuses on the absence or presence of disturbances in their mind, if they find a disturbance they notice it and allow it drop away, this leads to deeper states of calmness. Emptiness is also seen as a way to look at sense experience that does not identify with the "I-making" and "my-making" process of the mind. As a form of meditation, this is developed by perceiving the six sense spheres and their objects as empty of any self, this leads to a formless jhana of nothingness and a state of equanimity.

According to Gil Fronsdal : "Emptiness is as important in the Theravada tradition as it is in the Mahayana. From the earliest times, Theravada Buddhism
Buddhism
has viewed emptiness as one of the important doors to liberation." Mathew Kosuta sees the Abhidhamma
Abhidhamma
teachings of the modern Thai teacher Ajaan Sujin Boriharnwanaket as being very similar to the Mahayana emptiness view.

MAHAYANA BUDDHISM

PRAJNA-PARAMITA SUTRAS

Main article: Perfection of Wisdom The emptiness of phenomena is often compared to drops of dew

The Prajna-paramita (Perfection of Wisdom) Sutras taught that all entities, including dharmas, are only conceptual existents or constructs.

Though we perceive a world of concrete and discrete objects, these objects are "empty" of the identity imputed by their designated labels. The Heart sutra , a text from the prajnaparamita-sutras , articulates this in the following saying in which the five skandhas are said to be "empty":

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form Emptiness is not separate from form, form is not separate from emptiness Whatever is form is emptiness, whatever is emptiness is form.

MāDHYAMAKA

Main article: Madhyamaka

Mādhyamaka is a Mahāyāna Buddhist school of philosophy. In Madhyamaka, to say that an object is "empty" is synonymous with saying that it is dependently originated .

Madhyamaka states that impermanent collections of causes and conditions are designated by mere conceptual labels. This also applies to the principle of causality itself, since everything is dependently originated. If unaware of this, things may seem to arise as existents, remain for a time and then subsequently perish. In reality, dependently originated phenomena do not arise as having inherent existence in the first place. Thus both existence and nihilism are ruled out.

Nagarjuna

Madhyamaka is retroactively seen as being founded by the monk Nāgārjuna . Nāgārjuna's goal was to refute the essentialism of certain Abhidharma schools. His best-known work is the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā , in which he used the reductio ad absurdum to show the non-substantiality of the perceived world.

Nāgārjuna equates emptiness with dependent origination :

On the basis of the Buddha's view that all experienced phenomena (dharma) are "dependently arisen" (pratitya-samutpanna), Nagarjuna insisted that such phenomena are empty (sunya). This did not mean that they are not experienced and, therefore, non-existent; only that they are devoid of a permanent and eternal substance (svabhava ). Since they are experienced elements of existence, they are not mere names (prjnapti).

In his analysis, any enduring essential nature would prevent the process of dependent origination, or any kind of origination at all. For things would simply always have been, and will always continue to be, without any change.

In doing so, he restores the Middle way of the Buddha, which had become influenced by absolute tendencies:

Utilizing the Buddha's theory of "dependent arising" (pratitya-samutpanna) Nagarjuna demonstrated the futility of these metaphysical speculations. His method of dealing with such metaphysics is referred to as a "middle way" (madhyama pratipad). It is the middle way that avoided the substantialism of the Sarvastivadins as well as the nominalism of the Sautrantikas .

Prasaṅgika

Main article: Prasaṅgika

The Prasangika is a sub-school of the Madhyamaka. The name is derived from prasanga , or reductio ad absurdum arguments, rather than svatantra-anumana , or independent syllogisms .

Buddhapalita (470–550), a commentator on the works of Nāgārjuna and Aryadeva , was a great master and exponent of the Prasangika system. Buddhapālita notes:

It is not that we claim non-existence, we merely remove claims for existing existents.

Candrakīrti
Candrakīrti
states:

Since relativity is not objectively created, those who, through this reasoning, accept dependent things as resembling the moon in water and reflections in a mirror, understand them as neither objectively true nor false. Therefore, those who think thus regarding dependent things realize that what is dependently arisen cannot be substantially existent, since what is like a reflection is not real. If it were real, that would entail the absurdity that its transformation would be impossible. Yet neither is it unreal, since it manifests as real within the world.

Svatantrika

Main article: Svatantrika

Svātantrika is a category of Madhyamaka viewpoints attributed primarily to the 6th century Indian scholar Bhavaviveka . It is used in contrast with Prāsangika Madhyamaka.

For the Svatantrika, conventional phenomena are understood to have a conventional essential existence, but without an ultimately existing essence.

Nihilism And Eternalism

See also: Middle way

Some non-Buddhist and Buddhist writers state that the Sunyata
Sunyata
concept in Madhyamaka philosophy is nihilistic. For example, Jackson writes:

A nihilistic interpretation of the concept of voidness (or of mind-only) is not, by any means, a merely hypothetical possibility; it consistently was adopted by Buddhism's opponents, wherever the religion spread, nor have Buddhists themselves been immune to it...

This view has been challenged by other writers, who state that Madhyamaka is not nihilistic but it is a middle way between nihilism and eternalism. Some scholars interpret emptiness as described by Nāgārjuna as a Buddhist transcendental absolute , while other scholars consider it a mistake. The consensus is that Nāgārjuna defended the middle way, one between nihilism and absolute eternalism, and sunyata as emptiness is the soteriological middle way.

Randall Collins states that for Nagarjuna, ultimate reality was "shunyata, emptiness". In Nagarjuna's thesis, adds Collins, this emptiness is not a negation, but the premise that "no concepts are intelligible". David Kalupahana states that this topic has been debated by ancient and medieval Buddhist metaphysicians, with a divergence of views; emptiness is a view, adds Kalupahana, but "holding up emptiness as an absolute or ultimate truth without reference to that which is empty is the last thing either the Buddha or Nāgārjuna would advocate".

According to Ferrer, Nāgārjuna criticized those whose mind held any "positions and beliefs", suggesting liberation is "avoidance of all views", and explaining emptiness as follows:

The Victorious Ones have announced that emptiness is the relinquishing of all views . Those who are possessed of the view of emptiness are said to be incorrigible.

BUDDHA-NATURE

Main articles: Buddha-nature and Tathāgatagarbha Sutras

Some 1st-millennium CE Buddhist texts suggest Buddha-nature type concepts that have been controversial because they imply a "self-like" concept. In particular are the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras , where the title itself means a garbha (womb, matrix, seed) containing Tathagata (Buddha). These Sutras suggest, states Paul Williams, that 'all sentient beings contain a Tathagata' as their 'essence, core or essential inner nature'. The Tathagatagarbha doctrine, at its earliest probably appeared about the later part of the 3rd century CE, and is verifiable in Chinese translations of 1st millennium CE. Most scholars consider the Tathagatagarbha doctrine of an 'essential nature' in every living being is equivalent to 'Self', and it contradicts the doctrines in a vast majority of Buddhist texts, leading scholars to posit that the Tathagatagarbha Sutras were written to promote Buddhism
Buddhism
to non-Buddhists.

These Tathāgatagarbha sutras presents a seemingly variant understanding of emptiness, wherein the Buddha Nature, the Buddha and Liberation are seen as transcending the realm of the empty (i.e. of the conditioned and dependently originated). Some scholars, however, view such teachings as metaphorical, not to be taken literally. Other Buddhist monks/scholars disagree with this claim.

In these sutras the perfection of the wisdom of not-self is stated to be the true self. The ultimate goal of the path is characterized using a range of positive language that had been used in Indian philosophy previously by essentialist philosophers, but which was now transmuted into a new Buddhist vocabulary to describe a being who has successfully completed the Buddhist path.

Srimala Sutra

The Śrīmālā Sūtra is one of the earliest texts on tathagata-garbha thought, composed in 3rd century in south India, according to Brian Brown. It asserted that everyone can potentially attain Buddhahood, and warns against the doctrine of Sunyata.

The Śrīmālā Sūtra posits that the Buddha-nature is ultimately identifiable as the supramundane nature of the Buddha , the garbha is the ground for Buddha-nature, this nature is unborn and undying, has ultimate existence, has no beginning nor end, is nondual, and permanent. The text also adds that the garbha has "no self, soul or personality" and "incomprehensible to anyone distracted by sunyata (voidness)"; rather it is the support for phenomenal existence.

Scholarly Opinions

According to some scholars, the Buddha nature which these sutras discuss, does not represent a substantial self (ātman). Rather, it is a positive expression of emptiness, and represents the potentiality to realize Buddhahood through Buddhist practices. In this view, the intention of the teaching of Buddha nature is soteriological rather than theoretical. According to others, the potential of salvation depends on the ontological reality of a salvific, abiding core reality — the Buddha-nature, empty of all mutability and error, fully present within all beings.

According to Matsumoto Shiro and Hakamaya Noriaki, the idea of an ontological reality of the Buddha-nature is an un-Buddhist idea: Their "Critical Buddhism" approach rejects what it calls "dhatu-vada" (substantialist Buddha nature doctrines)

Buddhism
Buddhism
is based on the principles of no-self and causation, which deny any substance underlying the phenomenal world. The idea of tathagata-garbha, on the contrary, posits a substance (namely, tathagata-garbha) as the basis of the phenomenal world. asserts that dhatu-vada is the object that the Buddha criticized in founding Buddhism, and that Buddhism
Buddhism
is nothing but unceasing critical activity against any form of dhatu-vada.

The critical Buddhism
Buddhism
approach has, in turn, recently been characterised as operating with a restricted definition of Buddhism. Paul Williams comments:

At least some ways of understanding the tathagatagarbha contravene the teachings of not-Self, or the Madhyamika idea of emptiness. And these ways of understanding the tathagatagarbha were and are widespread in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Yet by their own self-definition they are Buddhist.

YOGACARA

Main article: Yogacara

Yogacara explains "emptiness" in an analysis of the way we perceive "things". Everything we conceive of is the result of the working of the five skandhas : form, perception, feeling, volition and discrimination. The five skandhas together create consciousness. The "things" we are conscious of are "mere concepts", not 'das Ding an sich' or 'the thing in itself'.

TIBETAN BUDDHISM

In Tibetan Buddhism, emptiness is often symbolized by and compared to the open sky which is associated with openness and freedom .

Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism
developed five main schools. The Madhyamika philosophy obtained a central position in the Nyingma
Nyingma
, Kagyu , Sakya and Gelugpa schools. The Jonang school , which until recently was thought to be extinct, developed a different interpretation of ultimate truth .

Sakya

The Sakya school originated in the 11th century. It rose to power in the 13th century.

Emptiness in Mādhyamaka has a second aspect. Through logical analyses it is shown that conceptual thought is dichotomizing yet "reality" (or lack of it) is free from all extremes. Gorampa Sonam Senge (1429-1489), an important philosopher in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism
who established one of the definitive Tibetan understandings of Prasangika , therefore makes his ultimate truth a liberating insight that is free from grasping the mind.

Jonang

Main article: Jonang

The Jonang school originated in the 12th century. Tsongkhapa strongly opposed the Jonang school, whose views he "deemed to be dharmically incorrect".

In the Tibetan Jonang school, only the Buddha and the Buddha Nature are viewed as not intrinsically empty, but as truly real, unconditioned, and replete with eternal, changeless virtues. The Buddha Nature (tathagatagarbha ) is only empty of what is impermanent and conditioned, not of its own self. The Buddha Nature is truly real, and primordially present in all beings.

An important Tibetan treatise on Emptiness and the Buddha Nature is found in the scholar-monk Dolpopa\'s voluminous study, Mountain Doctrine. It...

... follows the format, inherited from India, of a presentation by way of both reasoning and scripture - the scriptural citations being so rich that the book can also be considered an inspiring anthology, a veritable treasure-trove of literature about the matrix-of-one-gone-thus .

In this vast Mountain Doctrine, Dolpopa describes the Buddha Nature as ...

on-material emptiness, emptiness that is far from an annihilatory emptiness, great emptiness that is the ultimate pristine wisdom of superiors ...buddha earlier than all buddhas, ... causeless original buddha.

The Buddha-nature is filled with eternal powers and virtues:

ermanent, stable, eternal, everlasting. Not compounded by causes and conditions, the matrix-of-one-gone-thus is intrinsically endowed with ultimate buddha qualities of body, speech, and mind such as the ten powers; it is not something that did not exist before and is newly produced; it is self-arisen.'

Dolpopa also cites the Angulimaliya Sutra\'s contrast between empty phenomena such as the moral and emotional afflictions (kleshas ), which are like ephemeral hailstones, and the enduring, eternal Buddha, which is like a precious gem:

Empty phenomena are other ; non-empty phenomena are other . The tens of millions of afflictive emotions like hail-stones are empty. The phenomena in the class of non-virtues, like hail-stones, quickly disintegrate. Buddha, like a vaidurya jewel, is permanent The liberation of a buddha also is form do not make a discrimination of non-division, saying, "The character of liberation is empty".'

Gelugpa

The Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism
is the most influential of the four Tibetan Buddhist schools. It was founded in the beginning of the 15th century by Tsongkhapa (1357- 1419), who was "strongly scholastic in orientation and encouraged the study of the great Indian masters of philosophy".

The 14th Dalai Lama , who generally speaks from the Gelugpa version of the Mādhyamaka- Prasaṅgika , states:

According to the theory of emptiness, any belief in an objective reality grounded in the assumption of intrinsic, independent existence is simply untenable. All things and events, whether ‘material’, mental or even abstract concepts like time, are devoid of objective, independent existence hings and events are 'empty' in that they can never possess any immutable essence, intrinsic reality or absolute ‘being’ that affords independence.

Bon

The Tibetan Yungdrung Bon-tradition regards the Ma Gyu, or Mother Tantra , as the highest tantra. Its views are close to Dzogchen
Dzogchen
. It sees waking life as an illusion, from which we have to wake up, just as we recognize dreams to be illusions. Sunyata
Sunyata
is the lack of inherent existence. The Mother Tantra uses ...

...examples, similes and metaphors that we can ponder in order to better understand this illusory nature of both dream and waking life".

These "examples, similes and metaphors" ...

...stress the lack of inherent existence and the unity of experience and experiencer. In the sutra teachings we call this "emptiness," in tantra "illusion," and in Dzogchen
Dzogchen
"the single sphere."

CHINESE BUDDHISM

When Buddhism
Buddhism
was introduced in China it was understood in terms of its own culture. Various sects struggled to attain an understanding of the Indian texts. The Tathāgatagarbha Sutras and the idea of the Buddha-nature were endorsed, because of the perceived similarities with the Tao
Tao
, which was understood as a transcendental reality underlying the world of appearances. Sunyata
Sunyata
at first was also understood as pointing to transcendental reality. It took Chinese Buddhism
Buddhism
several centuries to realize that sunyata does not refer to an essential transcendental reality underneath or behind the world of appearances.

Chán

Main articles: Zen
Zen
and Chinese Chán

The influence of those various doctrinal and textual backgrounds is still discernable in Zen. Zen
Zen
teachers still mention the Buddha-nature, but the Zen
Zen
tradition also emphasizes that Buddha-nature is Sunyata
Sunyata
, the absence of an independent and substantial "self".

WESTERN BUDDHISM

Various western Buddhists note that sunyata refers to the emptiness of inherent existence, as in Mdhyamaka; but also to the emptiness of mind or awareness, as open space and the "ground of being," as in meditation-orientated traditions and approaches such as Dzogchen
Dzogchen
and Shentong .

HINDUISM

INFLUENCE ON ADVAITA VEDANTA

Gaudapada
Gaudapada
is considered by some scholars to have been strongly influenced by Buddhism, as he developed his concept of "ajāta" from Nagajurna's Madhyamaka philosophy, which uses the term "anutpāda":

* "An" means "not", or "non" * "Utpāda" means "genesis", "coming forth", "birth"

Taken together "anutpāda" means "having no origin", "not coming into existence", "not taking effect", "non-production".

According to Gaudapada, the Absolute is not subject to birth, change and death . The Absolute is aja, the unborn eternal. The empirical world of appearances is considered Maya (unreal as it is transitory), and not absolutely existent . Thus, Gaudapada's concept of ajativada is similar to Buddhist term "anutpāda" for the absence of an origin or śūnyatā.

But Gaudapada's perspective is quite different from Nagarjuna. Gaudapada's perspective found in Mandukya Karika is based on the Mandukya Upanishad . According to Gaudapada, the metaphysical absolute called Brahman never changes, while the phenomenal world changes continuously, so the phenomenal world cannot arise independently from Brahman. If the world cannot arise, yet is an empirical fact, than the perceived world has to be a transitory (unreal) appearance of Brahman. And if the phenomenal world is a transitory appearance, then there is no real origination or destruction, only apparent origination or destruction. From the level of ultimate truth (paramārthatā) the phenomenal world is māyā , "illusion", apparently existing but ultimately not metaphysically real.

In Gaudapada-Karika, chapter III, verses 46-48, he states that Brahman never arises, is never born, is never unborn, it rests in itself:

When the mind does not lie low, and is not again tossed about, then that being without movement, and not presenting any appearance, culminates into Brahman . Resting in itself, calm, with Nirvana, indescribable, highest happiness, unborn and one with the unborn knowable, omniscient they say. No creature whatever is born, no origination of it exists or takes place. This is that highest truth where nothing whatever is born. —  Gaudapada
Gaudapada
Karika, 3.46-48, Translated by RD Karmarkar

In contrast to Renard's view, Karmarkar states the Ajativada of Gaudapada
Gaudapada
has nothing in common with the Śūnyatā
Śūnyatā
concept in Buddhism. While the language of Gaudapada
Gaudapada
is undeniably similar to those found in Mahayana Buddhism, states Comans, their perspective is different because unlike Buddhism, Gaudapada
Gaudapada
is relying on the premise of "Brahman, Atman or Turiya" exist and are the nature of absolute reality.

IN SHAIVISM

Sunya and Sunyatisunya are concepts which appear in some Shaiva texts, such as the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra , which contains several verses mentioning voidness as a feature of ultimate reality - Shiva
Shiva
:

"The Absolute void is Bhairava who is beyond the senses and the mind, beyond all the categories of these instruments. From the point of view of the human mins, He is most void. from the point of view of Reality, He is most full, for He is the source of all manifestation."

"The yogi should concentrate intensely on the idea (and also feel) that this universe is totally void. In that void, his mind would become absorbed. Then he becomes highly qualified for absorption i.e. his mind is absorbed in the absolute void (sunyatisunya)."

In a series of Kannada language texts of Lingayatism
Lingayatism
, a Shaivism tradition, shunya is equated to the concept of the Supreme. In particular, the Shunya Sampadane texts present the ideas of Allama Prabhu in a form of dialogue, where shunya is that void and distinctions which a spiritual journey seeks to fill and eliminate. It is the described as a state of union of one's soul with the infinite Shiva, the state of blissful moksha.

IN VAISHNAVISM

Shunya Brahma is a concept found in certain texts of Vaishnavism , particularly in Odiya , such as the poetic Panchasakhas. It explains the Nirguna Brahman idea of Vedanta, that is the eternal unchanging metaphysical reality as "personified void". Alternate names for this concept of Hinduism, include shunya purusha and Jagannatha (Vishnu) in certain text. However, both in Lingayatism
Lingayatism
and various flavors of Vaishnavism such as Mahima Dharma, the idea of Shunya is closer to the Hindu concept of metaphysical Brahman , rather than to the Śūnyatā concept of Buddhism. However, there is some overlap, such as in the works of Bhima Bhoi.

In the Vaishnavism of Orissa , the idea of Shunya Brahman or Shunya Purusha is found in the poetry of the Orissan Panchasakhas (Five Friends), such as in the compositions of 16th-century Acyutananda . Acyutananda's Shunya Samhita extols the nature of Shunya Brahman:

nāhi tāhāra rūpa varṇa, adṛsha avarṇa tā cinha. tāhāku brahmā boli kahi, śūnya brahmhati se bolāi.

It has no shape, no colour, It is invisible and without a name This Brahman is called Shunya Brahman.

The Panchasakhas practiced a form of Bhakti called Jnana-mishrita Bhakti-marga, which saw the necessity of knowledge ( Jnana ) and devotion - Bhakti .

ALTERNATE TRANSLATIONS

* Emptiness * Interdependence (Ringu Tulku) * Openness * Transparency (Cohen) * Spaciousness * Thusness

SEE ALSO

* Acosmism (belief that the world is illusory) * Apophatic theology * Buddha Nature * Buddhist philosophy * Depersonalization * Derealization * Determinism * Kenosis
Kenosis
* Maya (illusion) (Cosmic illusion) * Nihilism * Performative contradiction * Vacuous truth

NOTES

* ^ A common translation is "no-self", without a self, but the Pali canon uses anattā as a singular substantive, meaning "not-self". * ^ Original: "Rupan śūnyatā śūnyatāiva rupan. Rupan na prithak śūnyatā śūnyatā na prithag rupan. Yad rupan sa śūnyatā ya śūnyatā tad rupan." * ^ The Five Skandhas are: Form, Feeling, Perceptions, Mental Formations and Consciousness. * ^ Chapter 21 of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā goes into the reasoning behind this. * ^ Mūlamadhyamakakārikā 24:18 * ^ Nāgārjuna equates svabhāva (essence) with bhāva (existence) in Chapter 15 of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā * ^ Wayman and Wayman have disagreed with this view, and they state that the Tathagatagarbha is neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality. * ^ Translations do differ, which makes a difference. Vijñāna can be translated as "consciousness", but also as "discernement".

* '^ Quotes: * John Snelling: "At the core of Mahayana philosophy lies the notion of Emptiness: SHUNYATA. THIS IS VERY MUCH IN THE SPIRIT OF ANATTA (SKT. ANATMAN) AS FIRST TAUGHT BY THE BUDDHA. IT IS OFTEN USED TO IMPLY, NOT MERE OR SHEER NOTHINGNESS (THAT WOULD BE THE NIHILISTIC VIEW), BUT \'EMPTINESS OF INHERENT EXISTENCE; that is, the absence of any kind of of enduring or self-sustaining essence. There is also a sense in which it has connotations of 'conceptual emptiness': absence of thoughts. It could be regarded too as a non-term signifying the ineffable understanding arising within the practice of meditation. Although seemingly negative, it also has its positive uses - and of course ultimately points beyond the positive negative dichotomy." * Hans Knibbe: "There are at least to important meanings of this concept of emptiness, namely: - empty of independent existence; - openness and space as grounf of being. * Nigel Wellings: "Thus we have two types of emptiness, the emptiness of self in the skandhas that reveals the absence of an empirical and metaphysical self. And the emptiness of the self in Nirvâ.na that reveals nothing of the empirical self existing within the Nirvâ.na consciousness. Harvey seems to confirm this view when he tells us that all conditioned dharmas are empty of self because they are impermanent and a source of suffering, while the unconditioned dharma, Nirvâ.na, is empty because it does not “support the feeling of ‘I-ness’”, that is, the impermanent skandhas. (1990:52). This is very similar to the teaching of the modern Kagyu Nyingma
Nyingma
Lama, Tulku
Tulku
Urgyen Rinpoche, a Shentong exponent:

All appearances are empty, in that they can be destroyed or extinguished in some way The whole universe vanishes at some point, destroyed by the seven fires and one immense deluge. In this way, all appearances are empty. Mind is also ultimately empty, but its way of being empty is not the same as appearances. Mind can experience anything but it cannot be destroyed. Its original nature is the dharmakaya of all Buddhas. You cannot actually do anything to mind – you can’t change it, wash it away, bury it or burn it. What is truly empty, though, is all the appearances that appear in the mind. ( Tulku
Tulku
Urgyen (1999), As It Is vol.1 Rangjang Yeshe, Boudhanath, Hong Kong ">

* ^ A B Nigel Wellings (2009), Is there anything there? – the Tibetan Rangtong Shentong debate

REFERENCES

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Buddhism
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Sutra
actually refer to an atman, though other texts are careful to avoid the term. This would be in direct opposition to the general teachings of Buddhism
Buddhism
on anatta. Indeed, the distinctions between the general Indian concept of atman and the popular Buddhist concept of Buddha-nature are often blurred to the point that writers consider them to be synonymous." * ^ A B Hopkins 2006 . * ^ Sallie B. King (1997),The Doctrine of Buddha Nature is Impeccably Buddhist. In: Jamie Hubbard (ed.), Pruning the Bodhi
Bodhi
Tree: The Storm Over Critical Buddhism, Univ of Hawaii Press 1997, pp. 174-192. ISBN 0824819497 * ^ Brian Edward Brown (1991). The Buddha Nature: A Study of the Tathāgatagarbha and Ālayavijñāna. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-81-208-0631-3 . * ^ Brian Edward Brown (1991). The Buddha Nature: A Study of the Tathāgatagarbha and Ālayavijñāna. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-81-208-0631-3 . * ^ Brian Edward Brown (1991). The Buddha Nature: A Study of the Tathāgatagarbha and Ālayavijñāna. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 5–7, 32. ISBN 978-81-208-0631-3 . * ^ Heng-Ching Shih. "The Significance Of \'Tathagatagarbha\' —- A Positive Expression Of Sunyata". Archived from the original on 2013-08-07. * ^ A B King, Sallie B. "The Doctrine of Buddha Nature is Impeccably Buddhist. In: Jamie Hubbard (ed.), Pruning the Bodhi
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Bodhi
Tree: the Storm over Critical Buddhism
Buddhism
by Jamie Hubbard and Paul Loren Swanson, University of Hawai'i Press, 1997, p. 326 * ^ Paul Williams, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, Second Edition, Routledge, London, 2009, pp. 124, 125 * ^ A B Kalupahana 1992 . * ^ Vessantara; Meeting the Buddhas: A Guide to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Tantric Deities. "They are sky-like, and un-graspable, like clouds." * ^ The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa: Volume Four, Dawn of tantra, page 366 * ^ Snelling 1987 , p. 202. * ^ Cabezón, José Ignacio. Freedom
Freedom
from extremes: Gorampa's "Distinguishing the views" and the Polemics of Emptiness. Wisdom Publications, 2007, pages 50-52. * ^ A B Snelling 1987 , p. 207. * ^ Hopkins 2006 , p. 8-16. * ^ Hopkins 2006 , p. 5. * ^ Hopkins 2006 , p. 14. * ^ Hopkins 2006 , p. 8. * ^ Hopkins 2006 , p. 210. * ^ Dalai Lama
Lama
(2005). The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (Hardcover). Broadway. ISBN 0-7679-2066-X & ISBN 978-0-7679-2066-7 * ^ Ligmincha Institute: Sadhanas of the Ma Gyu (Mother Tantra) * ^ "Ma Gyud - The Mother Tantras". Bon-encyclopedia.wikispaces.com. Retrieved 2013-02-04. * ^ Wangyal Rinpoche
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SOURCES

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* Bhikkhu, Thanissaro (trans.) (1997a), Cula-suñña Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 121, The Lesser Discourse on Emptiness, Access to Insight, archived from the original on December 14, 2004 . * Bhikkhu, Thanissaro (trans.) (1997b), Maha-suññata Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 122, The Greater Discourse on Emptiness, Access to Insight . * Bhikkhu, Thanissaro (trans.) (1997c), Phena Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya XXII.95, Foam, Access to Insight, archived from the original on January 1, 1970 . * Bhikkhu, Thanissaro (trans.) (1997d), SN 35.85, Suñña Sutta, Empty, Access to Insight * Hurvitz, Leon (trans.) (1976), Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma
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SECONDARY

* Bhattacharya, Vidhushekhara (1943), Gauḍapādakārikā, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass * Boruah, Bijoy H. (2000), Atman in Śūnyatā
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and the Śūnyatā
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of Atman, South Asia Seminar, University of Texas at Austin . * Bronkhorst, Johannes (2009), Buddhist Teaching in India, Wisdom Publications * Comans, Michael (2000), The Method of Early Advaita Vedānta: A Study of Gauḍapāda, Śaṅkara, Sureśvara, and Padmapāda, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass * Jackson, Roger R. (1993), Is Enlightenment Possible?, Snow Lion Publications, ISBN 1-55939-010-7 * Hopkins, Jeffrey (2006), Mountain Doctrine: Tibet's Fundamental Treatise on Other-Emptiness and the Buddha Matrix, London: Snow Lion * Kalupahana, David J. (1992), The Principles of Buddhist Psychology, Delhi: ri Satguru Publications * Kalupahana, David J. (1994), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited * Lai, Whalen (2003), Buddhism
Buddhism
in China: A Historical Survey. In Antonio S. Cua (ed.): Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy (PDF), New York: Routledge, archived from the original (PDF) on November 12, 2014

* Rawson, Philip (1991), Sacred Tibet, London, Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-81032-X * Renard, Philip (2010), Non-Dualisme. De directe bevrijdingsweg, Cothen: Uitgeverij Juwelenschip * Sarma, Chandradhar (1996), The Advaita Tradition in Indian Philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass * Snelling, John (1987), The Buddhist handbook. A Complete Guide to Buddhist Teaching and Practice, London: Century Paperbacks * Suzuki, Daisetz Teitarō (1999), Studies in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass * Wangyal Rinpoche, Tenzin (2004), The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass

EXTERNAL LINKS

* Zach Dorfman, Toward a Buddhist Politics of Freedom
Freedom
(The Montreal Review, September 2011)

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