Monthly Archives: July 2015

A note on “Emptiness” and “Non-self”

It should be noted, firstly, that the concept of Emptiness (shunyata) does not exist in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. It is a Mahayana Buddhist term. The term closest to Emptiness in Theravada Buddhism is Non-self (anatman). So why these separate terms?

In Theravada Buddhism the Buddha’s teaching of Non-self is interpreted to mean only no essence of the self, the sentient being. Mahayana Buddhism interprets Non-self to mean all things, animate as well as inanimate. This is why Mahayana Buddhists to distance themselves from the term No-self by taking a word to cover the wider definition they believed the teaching of Non-self to mean.

This is why Form and Emptiness are spoken within the same breath in the Heart Sutra. Whether one accepts the Theravada or Mahayana is up to the individual. What is important is to know at least this difference exists in Buddhism. It is a matter of interpretation.

Dragging the past into sports is an insult to us

It is unfortunate that someone had made this comment about the US’s win in the Women’s World Cup. How does a win in soccer equate to retaliation for war? Where does speech like this lead? Would it have been okay for the Japanese to gloat in their last win with tweets like “that one is for Hiroshima”?

The good thing about the Internet is that it is a place, in Francois Lyotard’s term, for the “little narratives” to be heard. But at the same it is a problem because of its noise where careless speech spirals uncontrollably. 

For people to agree with such a tweet is to show how naive and reckless people are, not to mention how irresponsible it is to speak so lightly of two completely different things in the same breath. 

It is an insult to the Japanese, to those who lost their lives or who have lost loved ones in war, to the survivors of war, and finally it is an insult to our general intelligence.