Form is emptiness

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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ShanYin
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Form is emptiness

Post by ShanYin » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:51 pm

Does the phrase 'form is emptiness' have any place in Theravada? I believe it's from the heart sutra which is a Mahayana suttra.

Is emptiness different in different schools? Which one focuses more on emptiness?

Does any Theravadin here believe that the Mahayana Suttras are the words of the Buddha?

Dinsdale
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:04 pm

ShanYin wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:51 pm
Does the phrase 'form is emptiness' have any place in Theravada? I believe it's from the heart sutra which is a Mahayana suttra.

Is emptiness different in different schools? Which one focuses more on emptiness?

Does any Theravadin here believe that the Mahayana Suttras are the words of the Buddha?
Yes, emptiness does appear in the Pali Suttas.

Here is one example:
https://suttacentral.net/sn35.85/en/sujato

However in the Pali suttas there is more emphasis on anatta (not self) than on sunnata (emptiness).
Last edited by Dinsdale on Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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budo
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by budo » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:20 pm

There are many suttas and early agamas about form being empty of self. There is also an emptiness final liberaton (suññata cetovimutti)

For example

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

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Aloka
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Aloka » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:26 pm

ShanYin wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:51 pm
Does the phrase 'form is emptiness' have any place in Theravada? I believe it's from the heart sutra which is a Mahayana suttra.

Another example : https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN22_95.html

You might also find this article of interest:

Early Buddhism and the Heart Sutra:

http://www.liberationpark.org/study/pdf ... ly_bsm.pdf


:anjali:

form
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by form » Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:34 am

Emptiness could just be another word for the three marks of existence.

pegembara
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by pegembara » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:18 am

ShanYin wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:51 pm
Does the phrase 'form is emptiness' have any place in Theravada? I believe it's from the heart sutra which is a Mahayana suttra.

{/quote]
The Chinese teachers spoke even more profoundly, "There's no need to do anything. Just be still and the mind will become empty by itself". This phrase, "Just be still. There's no need to do anything", has many meanings. Our minds are naughty and playful. The mind wanders out of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body, gathering sense-objects, and having accepted them within, is stupid enough to allow the dhammas of ignorance to 'climb into the drivers seat', so that there is nothing but grasping and clinging to 'I' and 'Mine'. This is called being naughty, refusing to be still.

'Being still' means not admitting sense-objects into the mind but being content to let them founder like waves on the shore. For instance, when the eye sees form, if there is merely the seeing, then that is called not admitting visible forms into the mind and similarly with the other sense organs. If you can't do that and vedana, feeling of satisfaction and dissatisfaction arise, let it stop just there, don't allow desires based on those feelings to develop. If it stops there its still possible to be still. But if we act to extend a feeling of satisfaction then in a moment 'I' and 'mine' emerge. Or if we act in response to a feeling of dissatisfaction then there will be Dukkha. it is called not being still.

To sum up - this one subject of emptiness covers all of the Buddhist Teachings, for Buddha breathed with emptiness. Emptiness is the theoretical knowledge, it is the practice and it is the fruit of practice. If one studies one must study emptiness; and if one receives the fruit it must be emptiness, so that finally one attains that thing which is supremely desirable. There is nothing beyond emptiness. When it is realized, all problems end.

Ajahn Buddhadasa "Heartwood from the Bo Tree"
Madhupindika Sutta: The Ball of Honey

"Now, when there is no eye, when there are no forms, when there is no eye-consciousness, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is no delineation of contact, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is no delineation of feeling, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is no delineation of perception, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is no delineation of thinking, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.

"When there is no ear...

"When there is no nose...

"When there is no tongue...

"When there is no body...
Dhamapada 13.170
The World : See it as a bubble, see it as a mirage: one who regards the world this way the King of Death doesn't see.
Kaccāyanagottasutta

"This world, Kaccāyana, for the most part, bases its views on two things: on existence and non-exis­tence. Now, Kac­cāyana, to one who with right wisdom sees the arising of the world as it is, the view of non-existence regarding the world does not occur. And to one who with right wisdom sees the cessation of the world as it really is, the view of existence regarding the world does not occur."

"`Everything exists', Kaccāyana, is one extreme. `Nothing ex­ists' is the other extreme. Not approaching either of those ex­tremes, Kac­cāyana, the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma by the middle way:
SN 22.95 Phena Sutta: Foam

Now suppose that in the last month of the hot season a mirage were shimmering, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a mirage?

In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any perception that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in perception?
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

Dinsdale
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:10 am

form wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:34 am
Emptiness could just be another word for the three marks of existence.
In the Heart Sutra sunyata describes the lack of independent existence, phenomena nor existing "from their own side". It appears related to idappaccayata, the conditional nature of phenomena, and therefore related to the three marks.
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Aloka
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Aloka » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:02 am

ShanYin wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:51 pm

Does any Theravadin here believe that the Mahayana Suttras are the words of the Buddha?

Here's an article written a number of years ago about the Northern and Southern traditions by Ajahn Amaro, who's the Abbot of Amaravati Theravada Thai Forest Tradition monastery UK:

The View from the Centre:

https://www.amaravati.org/the-view-from-the-centre/


:anjali:

Dinsdale
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:04 am

Aloka wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:02 am
ShanYin wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:51 pm

Does any Theravadin here believe that the Mahayana Suttras are the words of the Buddha?

Here's an article written a number of years ago about the Northern and Southern traditions by Ajahn Amaro, who's the Abbot of Amaravati Theravada Thai Forest Tradition monastery UK:

The View from the Centre:

https://www.amaravati.org/the-view-from-the-centre/


:anjali:
I skimmed through this long article but couldn't see anything specifically relating to ShanYins question above. Possibly I missed it, so perhaps you could you quote the relevant section here?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

form
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by form » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:28 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:10 am
form wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:34 am
Emptiness could just be another word for the three marks of existence.
In the Heart Sutra sunyata describes the lack of independent existence, phenomena nor existing "from their own side". It appears related to idappaccayata, the conditional nature of phenomena, and therefore related to the three marks.
If empty is being substituted by the three marks, as one goes through the front part of the sutra, it made perfect sense with something that appears in Pali suttas many many times, to become a teaching in line with Theravada.
Of course in this very early Mahayana creation, the flavours of Mahayana like kuanyin and chanting have started to brew already.

It is not surprising that there is overlapping as the Buddha used many way of explanations and different terms at different times to elaborate on the same thing.

Dinsdale
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Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:37 pm

form wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:28 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:10 am
form wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:34 am
Emptiness could just be another word for the three marks of existence.
In the Heart Sutra sunyata describes the lack of independent existence, phenomena nor existing "from their own side". It appears related to idappaccayata, the conditional nature of phenomena, and therefore related to the three marks.
If empty is being substituted by the three marks, as one goes through the front part of the sutra, it made perfect sense with something that appears in Pali suttas many many times, to become a teaching in line with Theravada.
Of course in this very early Mahayana creation, the flavours of Mahayana like kuanyin and chanting have started to brew already.

It is not surprising that there is overlapping as the Buddha used many way of explanations and different terms at different times to elaborate on the same thing.
Sure, there are various connections which can be made, though I'd be cautious about asserting direct equivalences between teachings from different schools.
Understanding the differences can be as instructive as understanding the similarities.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

2600htz
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by 2600htz » Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:11 pm

Hello

Empty of what? Air? Hindrances? Self?

Regards

Dinsdale
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:13 pm

2600htz wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:11 pm
Hello

Empty of what? Air? Hindrances? Self?

Regards
Empty of independent existence.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

2600htz
Posts: 481
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Form is emptiness

Post by 2600htz » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:39 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:13 pm
2600htz wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:11 pm
Hello

Empty of what? Air? Hindrances? Self?

Regards
Empty of independent existence.
What does independent existence mean?.

Regards.

form
Posts: 1207
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:23 am

Re: Form is emptiness

Post by form » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:28 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:37 pm
form wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:28 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:10 am


In the Heart Sutra sunyata describes the lack of independent existence, phenomena nor existing "from their own side". It appears related to idappaccayata, the conditional nature of phenomena, and therefore related to the three marks.
If empty is being substituted by the three marks, as one goes through the front part of the sutra, it made perfect sense with something that appears in Pali suttas many many times, to become a teaching in line with Theravada.
Of course in this very early Mahayana creation, the flavours of Mahayana like kuanyin and chanting have started to brew already.

It is not surprising that there is overlapping as the Buddha used many way of explanations and different terms at different times to elaborate on the same thing.
Sure, there are various connections which can be made, though I'd be cautious about asserting direct equivalences between teachings from different schools.
Understanding the differences can be as instructive as understanding the similarities.
At a higher level, there is a need to consider the limitations of a language and words in a literature to describe higher phenomena. First, no all school's teachings reach the same level, secondly, some may seem different but talking about the same thing.

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