Dharmashunyata, Dharmaśūnyatā, Dharma-shunyata: 1 definition



Dharmashunyata means something in Buddhism, Pali. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Dharmaśūnyatā can be transliterated into English as Dharmasunyata or Dharmashunyata, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Dharmashunyata in Mahayana glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Dharmaśūnyatā (धर्मशून्यता) refers to the “emptiness of things”, according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XLVIII. Accordingly, “the canonical scriptures do not teach the emptiness of beings alone; occasionally they also talk about the emptiness of things (dharmaśūnyatā): dharmas are empty of self-nature (svabhāva) and also of characteristics (lakṣaṇa) and are like a magic show. This Madhyamaka, long before the term existed, shows up in some sūtras of the Tripiṭaka, in theories attributing to samādhi a complete control over things and especially in the philosophical interpretation given to the Middle Way”.

Early Buddhism considered conditioned dharmas, coming from causes, to be impermanent, painful and without self, but as a general rule, did not doubt their reality; it acknowledged their intrinsic nature and definite characteristics. Some sūtras, however, seem to have wandered away from this realism and lean toward nihilism: they would have taught the twofold emptiness of beings and things or only the emptiness of things (dharmaśūnyatā).

Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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