Paticcasamuppada and emptiness

Did the Buddha teach emptiness ? What does emptiness means ? Did He teach paticcasamuppada as arisen of dhamma yet it is emptiness ? Did He teach anatta being identical to emptiness ? Does emptiness equivalent to nibbana ?

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Have you read MN121, MN151, MN122, MN106?


And also SN22. 59

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Emptiness means a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Sometimes by emptiness it’s just a summary of all phenomena being inconstant, dukkha, anattā, and dependently arisen. Naturally, then, this would mean that no phenomenon can be said to inherently exist as some solid absolute. If it did exist, it would be worth clinging to, and it would be beyond conditionality and causality. But because no such thing exists, all phenomena must be ‘empty’ in that regard. The Buddha sometimes used other words to say this. See SN 22.95, SN 35.238, SN 35.85, SN 12.15, and SN 22.90 for some examples of some of this. But the term ‘emptiness’ itself tends to be related to anattā or empty of certain qualities/defilements in the EBTs, even if conceptually it is identical so long as it is understood as described above.

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Practically speaking for western lay practitioners emptiness means the abandoning of perceptions of people, and indulgence in the perception of wilderness (nothing to do with DO):

“He discerns that ‘Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of village are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of human being are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.’ He discerns that ‘This mode of perception is empty of the perception of village. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.’ Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: ‘There is this.’ And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.” Majhima Nikaya 121


Yes. Refer to SN 35.85; SN 55.53; SN 22.122; MN 43; MN 106; MN 122; MN 121; MN 151; etc

Refer to SN 35.85. This basic meaning is repeated in MN 43 & MN 106.

Yes, indirectly. Refer to SN 12.12, SN 12.17, SN 12.18.

The Buddha taught paticcasamuppada (the same as all things) is empty. However, unlike Mahayana, the Buddha did not teach emptiness is paticcasamuppada. For example, Nibbana is empty but Nibbana is not paticcasamuppada.

Yes. Refer to SN 35.85. Or the use of sunnata & anatta together in SN 22.122.

Yes & no. The realisation of emptiness will result in knowing Nibbana. However, emptiness & Nibbana are not synonyms.

The ends of MN 43 & MN 121 contain definitions of emptiness similar to definitions of Nibbana however they are not the same thing. Emptiness (sunnata) means the state empty of certain things where as Nibbana means peace or coolness. For example, it makes sense to say form, feeling, perception, mental formations & consciousness are empty but it does not make sense to say these five aggregates are Nibbana. :slightly_smiling_face:


Empty of what? I’m pretty sure that it’s a Buddhist notion we have to ask, “empty of what.” This is a rhetorical question. Is nibbana merely empty of self? Or is it empty of cause?

Empty of the āsavās (taints, influxes, defilements). Empty of greed, hatred, and delusion. Empty of dukkha. Empty of attachment. Empty of a self or what belongs to a self. Empty of existence. Empty of birth and death. Just some examples.


SN 35.85 says:

mind objects are empty of self or what belongs to self.

dhammā suññaṁ attena vā attaniyena vā

MN 1 says:

He directly knows extinguishment as extinguishment.

nibbānaṁ nibbānato abhijānāti;

But he doesn’t identify with extinguishment, he doesn’t identify regarding extinguishment, he doesn’t identify as extinguishment, he doesn’t identify that ‘extinguishment is mine’, he doesn’t take pleasure in extinguishment.

nibbānaṁ nibbānato abhiññāya nibbānaṁ na maññati, nibbānasmiṁ na maññati, nibbānato na maññati, nibbānaṁ meti na maññati, nibbānaṁ nābhinandati.


Hi guys. So is it empty of cause? That was my question. :slight_smile:

Nibbana has no cause but I have never read the term “emptiness” use for this.

There is, mendicants, an unborn, unproduced, unmade, and unconditioned.

Atthi, bhikkhave, ajātaṁ abhūtaṁ akataṁ asaṅkhataṁ.

Ud 8.3

Ah. Unconditioned (asaṅkhataṁ). Thank you.

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