Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “note on emptiness (shunyata)” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Note on emptiness (śūnyatā)

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Preliminary note. – The eighteen emptinesses (śūnyatā), the subject of the present chapter, are the end-point of a long doctrinal evolution the milestones of which should be marked. The subject is of importance because, to a great extent, it is on account of it that the two first Vehicles, that of the śrāvakas and that of the bodhisattvas, present differences. In general, one can say with the Traité, p. 239F: “The Śrāvakayāna teaches mainly the emptiness of beings (sattvaśūnyatā), whereas the Buddhayāna (or Greater Vehicle), teaches both the emptiness of beings and the emptiness of things (dharmaśūnyatā).” The assertion will be developed later, p. 2060F.

Here we will treat in a summary manner the twofold emptiness in the canonical sūtras, the emptiness of beings in the Abhidharmas and the śāstras of the Hīnayānists, and finally the emptinesses (śūnyatā) according to the Madhyamaka.