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Thread: Emptiness

  1. #1

    Emptiness

    Hi everyone,
    I am keen to know what emptiness means in Buddhism and where can I find more info on this subject?
    Thank you. Best regards. Bradley

  2. #2
    Hi Bradley,

    Thanks for the question! Here's my attempt at an answer.

    The concept of emptiness is interpreted in a few slightly different ways throughout the various Buddhist traditions. But what it mainly comes down to is that our human experience is empty of a soul, or self. It means experiences are merely experiences without any constant entity behind them. You can see that in the following sutta for example:

    Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One … and said to him: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘Empty is the world, empty is the world.’ In what way, venerable sir, is it said, ‘Empty is the world’?”

    “It is, Ānanda, because it is empty of self and of what belongs to self that it is said, ‘Empty is the world.’ And what is empty of self and of what belongs to self? The eye, Ānanda, is empty of self and of what belongs to self. Forms are empty of self and of what belongs to self. Eye-consciousness is empty of self and of what belongs to self. Eye-contact is empty of self and of what belongs to self…. Whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition—whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant—that too is empty of self and of what belongs to self.

    “It is, Ānanda, because it is empty of self and of what belongs to self that it is said, ‘Empty is the world.’”

    https://suttacentral.net/en/sn35.85
    So if you are looking for teachings on emptiness, you might as well look for teachings on non-self (anatta). From an early Buddhist point of view the two are the same thing.

    A lot has been written on this subject -- too much for me to even summarize. A nice place to start reading is perhaps Analayo's entries into a Buddhist encyclopedia "From Grasping to Emptiness" which you can find online for free. These tend to look at things from different angles.

    But my advice is not to read too much of this. It can be a bit dry and theoretical. In the end these things are to be experienced in meditation if you want to fully grasp them.


    With kindness!

    Sunyo

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