"Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

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phil
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"Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by phil » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:17 am

Listening to a Joseph Goldstein talk, he attractively says "go from the self center to the zero center" or something like that, and intuitively I can get that, but all his references about emptiness were from TIbetan or Sufi or other sources. I am not very orthodox so am happy to find inspiration in other traditions, but curious about where "emptiness" is taught explicitly in the Pali Canon.

I have seen this discussed/debated at length before over the years at these forums (Nagarjuna kept coming up if I recall) but have never felt interested enough to follow but now I am curious.

Thanks.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:22 am

Greetings,

I do feel a tad like I repeat myself a lot with this one, but I strongly recommend you check out the works of venerable Nanananada... he explores emptiness, with recourse to the Pali Suttas and his works are available online for free.

Metta,
Paul. :)
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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by nibbedhika » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:17 am

The sutta Empty Is the World has:
suññaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā
empty of self and of what belongs to self
The Patisambhidamagga Suññakathā quotes this sutta and continues further. This above case is called suññasuññaṃ (voidness as voidness), and there are more cases listed, including vipari­ṇāma­suññaṃ (voidness in change):
Jātaṃ rūpaṃ sabhāvena suññaṃ
Born materiality is void of individual essence.

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phil
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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by phil » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:06 am

Thanks Paul and Nibbedhika

I found on Wiki accompanying a quote of a modern venerable saying that the adjective form is more commonly found in the Nikaya than the noun form:
1) the phena sutta, which states that on close inspection, each of the five aggregates are seen as being vain, void and unsubstantial, like a lump of foam [SN 22.95].

2) The Suñña Sutta,[10] part of the Pāli canon, relates that the monk Ānanda, Buddha's attendant asked
It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?" The Buddha replied, "Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ānanda, that the world is empty.
I know this subject has been discussed a lot, thanks for allowing me to ask to reduce it to explicit Pali Canon passages.as much as possible

Edit - looking through the subject index of my SN AN and MN anthologies obviously turns up what I asked for.
Duh!
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by ToVincent » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:41 am

There are three major kinds of emptiness in Early Buddhism (with commonalities across different schools - parallels).
Note that the two last ones cover almost the same principle.

Emptiness of Self/self:

The first, is the realization of the three marks of existence:
- All synergies (saṅkhāras) are impermanent (sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā).
- All synergies lead to suffering (sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā).
- Therefore, what is considered "Self/self by the middle & late Vedic creed - that is to say a continuous, as well as blissful Self/self, is not assertable. (sabbe dhammā anattā) - "all dhammas (conditioned or unconditioned things) are not self".

The Self/self (Atta/atta), was considered as pervasive and continuous, in late Vedic philosophy - and the Buddha did raise against this view.
Buddha's rationale was that the Self/self of the middle & late Vedic creed, (supposedly pervasive and continuous throughout the different late Vedic dharmas,) could not be continuous, because the khandhas (and their subsequent dhammas) are impermanent. Something he realized by Himself.
There is nothing as a continuous and pervasive Self/self in paṭiccasamuppāda, says Buddha.
In other words, the Buddhist Dhamma (aka paṭicasamuppāda), is "empty of self, and what belongs to self", due to the impermanence and the distressed intrinsic nature of all saṅkhāras.

And what is "atta"?
- atta in Vedic terms, is the person, the individuality, that has an inherent character of continuity.
- atta in Buddhist terms, is the person, the individuality, that has no inherent character of continuity - The Buddhist atta is empty of self, and what belongs to self.

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Emptiness of the internal āyatanāni (field of experiences - aka sense bases)::

There is also another form of emptiness in common early texts, among different early schools, that can be said to also help towards the liberation:
It is the realization, the distinction (pañña) that there is an emptiness of the ajjhatikāni āyatanāni (internal fields of experiences - aka sense bases) of the satta, described in https://suttacentral.net/en/sn35.238/11 , with a perfect parallel (SA 1172) - An emptiness that is filled by the external fields of experience "that are not 'yours'", says the Buddha (SN 22.33-SN 35.138). Something one should realize also.
Understanding how there is a descent of nāmarūpa in the āyatanani - particularly the external ones (SN 12.39,) is no easy task - because one must understand that the definition of the khandhas within nāmarūpa, in SĀ 298 and SN 12.2 are not the same - AND - that this is absolutely not conflictual. See here >> https://justpaste.it/1695d
It is this descent of the khandhas in the external āyatanani that are not "ours". What we "sensorily" experience in saḷāyatana is not "ours".


-----

Emptiness of "what is not there - or not there anymore"

Then there is another form of emptiness in common early texts, among different schools, that can be said to also help towards the liberation:
It takes place in MN 151, with a perfect parallel (SA 236), as far as the notion of this kind of emptiness is concerned.
It is about how a monk should train to reach a sound emptiness-concentration.
Buddha says that, when a monk is on his way in and out for alms-food - and while receiving alm-food - he should be mindful all the way of the emptiness of any desire, lust, hate, delusion, or aversion (desire, love, craving, attachment - in SA).

-----

Then there is another form of emptiness in common early texts, among different schools - that looks a bit like the precedent concept - and that can be said to also help towards the liberation:
It takes place in sutta MN 121 with a perfect parallel in MA 190.
It sums up as: "whatever is not present, I therefore see as empty".
In the instance of MN 121, a bhikkhu meditate on the emptiness of the village he has just left - now that he is in the forest.

-----

The later added unecessary nonsense, as far as the goal of the teaching is concerned:

However, no mention of an emptiness upstream the conditionality, as it appears for instance, in Nagarjuna's very personal philosophical interpretation of Buddhism.
The Buddha's message in early texts common to more than one school, speaks about the downstream of conditionality (viz. impermanence of the khandhas); but not about an emptiness, upstream the conditionality.
In this world with its ..., Māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
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We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by Javi » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:22 am
Greetings,

I do feel a tad like I repeat myself a lot with this one, but I strongly recommend you check out the works of venerable Nanananada... he explores emptiness, with recourse to the Pali Suttas and his works are available online for free.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Definitely this, he also discusses "non-dual" experience between the object and the observer in his work on meditation practice.

Also, Analayo has released a book "Compassion and emptiness in early Buddhist meditation"

https://thebuddhistcentre.com/windhorse ... -emptiness
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:25 pm

Funny you should mention this because Joseph Goldstein just had another book published called "Emptiness". Co written with Guy Armstrong. I just got my copy but haven't read it yet.

I find of the popular non-ordained dhamma teachers, Goldstein is pretty good in keeping things rooted in the Suttas and has a Theravada basis for most of his practice. He does make references to other traditions in a most helpful way too so his talks are very engaging.

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by paul » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:55 pm

In the Translator's Introduction to MN 122, Thanissaro Bikkhu gives a comprehensive description of the types of emptiness, which centre on its primary form: emptiness as a meditative dwelling.

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by phil » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:54 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:25 pm
Funny you should mention this because Joseph Goldstein just had another book published called "Emptiness". Co written with Guy Armstrong. I just got my copy but haven't read it yet.

I find of the popular non-ordained dhamma teachers, Goldstein is pretty good in keeping things rooted in the Suttas and has a Theravada basis for most of his practice. He does make references to other traditions in a most helpful way too so his talks are very engaging.
He's very good. Although his talks are quite long, they have a structure and main points that are developed thoroughly. The non-canonical and/or non-Theravadin references are often very helpful. One he often mentions is from an American woman who practiced in Asia in the 1950s (forget her name) who said…

No…I will stop there. This forum is for canonical references strictly. That's why I posted here. :smile:
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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phil
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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by phil » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:57 am

ToVincent wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:41 am
There are three major kinds of emptiness in Early Buddhism (with commonalities across different schools - parallels).
Thank you ToVincent, very helpful.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by DooDoot » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:14 am

What is the emptiness mind-release? There is the case where a monk, having gone into the wilderness, to the root of a tree or into an empty dwelling, considers this: 'This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self.' This is the emptiness mind-release.

MN 43 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty.

SN 35.85 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: "Emptiness" in the Pali Canon

Post by Aloka » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:57 am

.

Hi phil,

There's some information (with sutta references) about emptiness which you might find helpful from page 196 onwards in "The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana" by Ajahn Amaro and Ajahn Passano (In the section headed "Knowing, Emptiness and the Radiant Mind")

https://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content/up ... 1475760195



:anjali:

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