Emptiness: 1 definition


Emptiness 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.

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: OSU Press: Cakrasamvara Samadhi

Emptiness (in Sanskrit: Śūnyatā) refers to the primary teaching of the Prajñāpāramitā ("The Perfection of Wisdom") of Mahāyāna Buddhism.—The doctrine of "emptiness" (śūnyatā) is based upon the doctrines of no-self and dependent origination. The doctrine of emptiness states that no thing exists independently in and of itself, there is no independent subject or object, and all things are interconnected, making up a universal oneness. Even the idea of emptiness as an independent concept cannot exist within emptiness, which excludes any extreme nihilistic interpretations of nothingness, still allowing for relative subjects and objects to exist within the universal oneness. Relative subjects and objects allow us to make sense of reality, with our limited faculties, the five aggregates. However, once we experience a realization of emptiness, we understand that our perception of reality as separate subjects and objects is not real. One can say to oneself, "I am that", and let go of the habitual need to grasp and cling to things, and overcome the suffering of separateness, while at the same time still be able to operate within the perceived reality of a world with relative subjects and objects.

Emptiness is the primary doctrine of Nāgārjuna, who founded the Mādhyamika school, which means "The Middle Way", which teaches that the nature of reality is not governed by extremes, either or solutions, or binary absolutes, but rather by an infinite spectrum of possibilities in between, which can only be discerned through discriminating wisdom, (prajñā).

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
context information

Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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