Tag Archives: emptiness

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.

No love

Love does not exist just as hate does not. If it exists then Buddhism would mean nothing. The question is therefore one of what truly exists – love, hate, Buddhism, nothing – or to be more accurate what does it mean for some thing to exist. Such is the irony … and mystery.

(no more) love

to you
it’s the world,
your world,
a kind of
definition

but one day
you will know
it cannot
define you
or even love

Interbeing

Interbeing is Thich Nanh Nhat’s term for no-self which is equated by him to emptiness. The act of naming is the act of separating, isolating the self from the other (as though this is possible). We are all connected, interconnected in a way that is profound. We are interbeing. That is all we need to know.