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Sunyata

To: soc.religion.eastern
From: W.F. Wong.
Subj: Sunyata (0000.sunyata.wfw)
Date: unknown

Quoting: |Michael Moriarty

|I wonder how various people on s.r.e understand emptiness (shunyata)
|in their practice.
|
|      For me, it does not point to a scientific vacuum where not
|even a particle of dust has a presence.  Instead, it is an elaboration
|of the idea that all things are interdependent.  It could almost be
|a matter of meditating on the twelve facets of dependent origination
|until I can "see" that there is not anything that has absolute self.
|The absence of absolute self in all phenomena (dharmah) is probably
|closer to the teaching of no-soul (anatta), but in my thinking, it
|reverberates closely to what I think shunyata means.  I read somewhere,
|possibly on s.r.e, that anatta and shunyata are related teachings,
|the first Theravadin, the second Mahayana.  Can anyone corraborate
|that?

...here is what I think ...

Sunyata (sunnata in Pali) as defined by Nagarjuna seems to carry a
multiplicity of meanings. On the one hand, he can be very specific to
said, "Sunyata is the absence of svabhava (self-being-ness)." In other
places, it can be very vague. As someone has mentioned, the idea of
emptiness is in fact found in the Pali Canon. Specifically, there are
two suttas in the Majjima-Nikaya named the Lesser Discourse on Emptiness
and the Greater Discourse on Emptiness. That aside, this is how I see it -

In Pali Buddhism, all things are said to possess the Three Marks :

        1. Sabbe sankara anicca
           (All CONDITIONED things are impermanent.)

        2. Sabbe sankara dukkha
           (All CONDITIONED things are unsatisfactory.)

        3. Sabbe dhamma anatta
           (All THINGS lacks a "self".)

Interesting, isn't it ? The Marks of impermanence and dukkha are applicable
to conditioned things. We can turn it around (as is done in the Pali texts)
to said that "there may be something permanent and satifactory provided
that something is NOT conditioned" - and Nibbana is often spoken of as
the "unconditioned". But on the other hand, anatta is across the board -
all things (and presumably this includes Nibbana) is anatta. If we take the
"technical" definition of sunyata, then clearly it refers to the Third Mark.
But wait, Nagarjuna exclaimed "Because of sunyata, things are impermanent.
Because of sunyata, things are unsatisfactory". In other words, one can
DERIVE the other two marks from the Third ! What is more, as Nagarjuna seems
to show, one can derive a host of other "properties" from the idea of
sunyata alone, i.e. sunyata (coupled with cause-effect) is a  necessary and 
sufficient condition on which the entire Buddhist teaching can be based. Then 
based on this idea, he derived the logical (but shocking) conclusion that 
Samsara is Nirvana and Nirvana is Samsara. (I don't want to use the word 
"equivalence" because I believe he did not mean a complete identity here - 
very messy ... I haven't sort it out yet 


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