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WikiProject iconŚūnyatā has been listed as a level-5 vital article in Philosophy. If you can improve it, please do.
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Chinese for śūnyatā?[edit]

Does anyone know the Chinese character for Śūnyatā? -- (talk) 23:07, 3 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

空 (pinyin: kōng) is the simple, direct, correct translation into (Mandarin) Chinese. In "technical" taking about this area, one might also hear 空空 (pinyin: kōng kōng). Or, one might hear some other 空-based, two-character form (e.g., 空性 pinyin: kōng xìng), or, indeed, one might hear the Sanskrit word itself. mkriegel (talk) 17:36, 15 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please forgive typo above: the word "taking" should read "talking. Thank you. mkriegel (talk) 19:58, 15 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ratnaguṇasaṃcayagāthā 2:9-10[edit]

  • rūpaṁ na prajñeti rūpi nāsti prajñā
  • na ca eti prajñeti tesa nāsti prajñā
    • They are not wisdom, and wisdom is not in them
  • ākāśadhātusama tasya na cāsti bhedaḥ||9
    • It is the same as the dimension of space, and of it there is no crack.
  • ārambanānaprakṛtī sa anantapārā
    • The underlying character of the sense-attributes of things is, similarly, without any ultimate end.
  • sattvāna yā ca prakṛtī sa anantapārā
    • The underlying character of beings is, similarly, without any ultimate end.
  • ākāśadhātuprakṛtī sānantapārā
    • The underlying character of space is, similarly, without any ultimate end.
  • prajñāpi lokavidunām sānantapārā||10
    • So, the wisdom of the world-knowers is boundless.

My changes[edit]

  • "Concept" may be an inaccurate term to describe sunnata. I think concepts themselves might be empty according to doctrine. But I think it is safe to say sunnata is an aspect of Buddhist doctrine, philosophy, and practice.
  • Article formerly said something like "most often associated with Nagarjuna" or words to that effect. Not that I have anything against Nagarjuna, but personally, I have encountered sunnata for years and have yet to read or comprehend Nagarjuna. At the end of the day, nobody's counting the frequency of associations. (Don't know what Google says, and don't care either; Probably, most Buddhists in the world don't have Internet access.)
  • I imagine the controversial thing I did, was to take away the hedging about origins. If it proves that I've contradicted Mahayana doctrine (I don't know that I have), then we could add a sentence to the effect that "According to Mahayana doctrine, the theme of shunyata first emerged in the XXX sutra".

--Munge 09:17, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)

According to all doctrine the idea of emptiness first emerged in shakyamuni Buddha's 2nd turning of the wheel which was all about the fact that phenomena do not have any existence independent of our perception and thus they come from deeds. The first major text written on "emptiness" (which is a word used to negate something, as in objects are "empty" or "void" of any existence independent of our perception and our past deeds) was written by Nagarjuna somewhere around 300 A.D. Mulamadyamakakarika which means "entering the middle way set down in verse." This is one of the three major texts that are studied in monasteries from Tibet, which also include The Abhidharmakoshakarika written by master Vasabhandu in approximately 350 A.D. and the Abhisamayalamkara written by Vasabhandu's half brother Master Asanga. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:02, 3 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

To do[edit]

  • Capitalize Śūnyatā in section titles, rather than use template
  • Did Nagarjuna originate Śūnyatā as a "consequence of dependent origination"? I doubt that; clue on [1]. I'm OK with "identifies the two", as that does sound like an innovation.
  • 1st sentence of "Sunyata in the "Tathagatagarbha" Sutras" section is awkward at best. Did the author of the Mahaparinirvana really intend to say that Buddha and nirvana are "empty of...the selfless"? (If so this seems to contravene the Dhammapada 279 "all dhammas are anatta", and if so this should be noted at Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra.
  • Next to last sentence should either either eliminate references to Buddha Nature, Buddha Principle, and "Bhuddic Essence" (which would be my preference) or (get ready to hit the books) clarify their relationship to tathagatagarbha (I do not seem them as identical to tathagatagarbha).
  • My preference would be to provisionally define tathagatagarbha in this article as "embryo of the thus-come one". (And then we should fix Tathagatagarbha to clarify that it could be womb or embryo, thus-come or thus-gone, such that thusness refers to both that-which-is and the ability to apprehend that-which-is.)

--Munge 10:00, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)

  • Thanks, Munge, for your very interesting comments on the tathagatagarbha and sunyata section. To try to answer a few of the points you raise: I don't feel that my first sentence in that section is particularly awkward; but if you really can't bear it, and if other people feel it should be improved, then I'd certainly be prepared to alter it. As for "empty of the selfless": the Buddha of the "Mahaparinirvana Sutra" most definitely links "mahanirvana" or "mahaparinirvana" with the Buddhic Self and thus with that which is empty of the selfless. It is vital to understand that the self denied in such "tathagatagarbha sutras" is what the Buddha terms the untrue "mundane self" of the five skandhas - not the sovereign Self ("aishvarya-atman", also "Big Self" - "mahatman") of the Buddha himself. This is explicitly stated in the vast "Nirvana Sutra". As for the "Nirvana Sutra's" contradicting the dictum that all dharmas are "anatta": it depends how one understands "all" here (the Buddha in the "Nirvana Sutra" indicates that the term "all" is contingent, needing to be understood as having limitations to it); on the face of it, however, the "Nirvana Sutra" definitely does contradict that statement if one understands the statement to mean that there is no Self, Soul or Essence of any kind in connection with any dharma at all(I myself believe that the statement "all dharmas are non-self" excludes Nirvana). The Dharma (in the sense of the eternal, sustaining Truth) is said by the Buddha of the "Nirvana Sutra" to be "Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and Pure". Also, the "Nirvana Sutra" makes no discernible distinction, as far as I can see, between "Buddha-dhatu" (popularly, although perhaps unhappily, translated as "Buddha-nature") and "tathagata-garbha": the two terms are used interchangeably, indeed are appositionally paired on occasion. As for translating "tathagata-garbha" as "embryo of the thus-come one": although this is indeed one of the literal meanings of the term and thus cannot be faulted at all on that basis, the image of a Buddhic "embryo", growing, developing and then being born, is - as far as I know from many years of study of a number of the tathagatagarbha sutras - one that is only very rarely encountered, if at all in that sense. It is odd, isn't it - given the meaning of "embryo"? Or perhaps not, since the whole point about the Tathagata-garbha/Tathagata-dhatu as it is actually presented in the key sutras is that it was never created, never "develops" or evolves and never reaches an ultimate culmination - it already is perfect. It is the being him/herself who advances towards the Awakened state (which is what the garbha/dhatu is), while the garbha/dhatu itself remains ungrowing, unchanging and utterly pure, deep within the mind of each being. I tend to think it is best to stick to the Sanskrit terms , "tathagata-garbha"/"Buddha-dhatu", when speaking about this element of Buddhist soteriology and ontic reality, as long as one makes clear what the literal meaning is (as you have done) and what the connotation is on top of that (i.e. that the "garbha"/ "dhatu" is the irreducible, indestructible essence of the being). I also think it's best to use the term "Tathagata" (rather than only using a translation of it each time it occurs - not that you are necessarily suggesting that!). Such terms as "Tathagata" are pretty central to Buddhism, so I think people can fairly be expected to know and learn them (as long as those expressions are initially translated and explained). Lastly, on the "all dhammas are anatta" point, I'll try to mention (in the "Nirvana Sutra" entry) this famous statement of the Buddha's and the modification of meaning it undergoes in the "Nirvana Sutra". Thank you very much, Munge, for all your ideas. Stimulating! - Tony Page (TonyMPNS 21:38, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC))

Wow, well, too many excellent points to address here but I'll try.

  • Nirvana and Buddha empty of the selfless, confirmed: I changed the sentence by a tiny amount to reflect what you say and eliminate what I saw as room for doubt.
  • Perhaps I am being obsessive, but is it really OK to say the sutras have a "view of Emptiness"? View is a loaded word in Buddhism and maybe it's an "attitude toward emptiness"? Or some term other than view that the Sutra itself uses? Or does the Sutra indeed use the Chinese or Tibetan equivalent for ditthi?
  • What is the Tibetan word referred to in the quote near the end? Is it clearly the word for Tathagatagarbha? If so, mentioning Buddha Principle and Buddhic Essence and Buddha Nature seems more detail than warranted in an article about empiness. If the Tibetan word is not simply the equivalent of Tathagatagarbha, some hedging might be called for, e.g. "(a term closely associated wtih Tathagatagarbha)". The issue with "Buddha Principle" and "Buddhic Essence" is that these terms seem not clearly defined anywhere in Wikipedia and readers can't easily clarify them. If they must stay, I propose a phrase like "Buddha Principle or Buddhic Essence (the nonempty attributes of Tathagatagarbha)"?
  • As for Tathagatagarbha, embryo, and womb: Excellent point you make. The literal interpretation I gave above is grossly misleading. The intelligent reader would mistakenly think of embryonic development and, worse, womb-like quiescence. OK, I'm struggling with this. For this article, how about something like "Tathagatagarbha (womb of the thus-come one, construed as a metaphor for nonemptiness, not as a metaphor for development or quiescence)". For the Tathagatagarbha article, the metaphor includes many aspects: Container/contained as in storehouse and the seeds therein; unborn as in eternal; nonempty. (Is there more to the metaphor?)
  • As for Buddha Nature, my understanding that the Chinese found so many different interpretations of Buddha Nature in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra that they catalogued them (on this matter, Sallie King cites a dissertation by Grosnick). If so, perhaps one cannot simply say that accoding to Mahaparinirvana, Tathagatagarbha = Buddha Nature. Notably, the Yogacara-Tathagatagarbha literature (see next bullet) does not use Buddha Nature interchangeably with Tathagatagarbha.
  • The biggest issue with "Buddha Nature", I'm finding, is the same issue I have with "Tathagatagarbha" and "Anatta" for that matter. Namely, each of those articles needs improvement. To telegraph some issues about those, the Tathagatagarbha article regrettably conflates the Tathagatagarbha literature with the (slightly later) Yogacara-Tathagatagarbha tradition e.g. Buddha Nature Treatise, Lankavatara Sutra, and Mahayana Awakening of Faith. And I'm concerned Buddha Nature and anatta articles completely neglect to cover the Buddha Nature Treatise, which has much to say about resolving the controversies that have emerged on Wikipedia about Buddha Nature. To be fair, Buddha Nature and anatta articles attempt to address what is and isn't anatman in various traditions. Still, like the layers of the Mahaparanirvana itself, these articles betray that that various Wikipedians brought different attitudes toward the subject. All these articles should start from the standpoint that there are varying doctrines within Mahayana, and different attitudes expressed within the Pali Canon, and present the different sides.
  • Thank you for taking the time to engage on this. Nothing urgent here or in the other things I've mentioned. However, I left an unrelated question about Mahaparinirvana Sutra on your talk page.

--Munge 05:17, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Hallo Munge: it is a pleasure to read all your splendid comments. Thank you very much for them. Just a few brief initial comments of my own (work beckons!): I agree with virtually everything you say. I think you are right that I should perhaps not unjustifiably render "Tathagatagarbha" as "Buddhic Essence" (when the Tibetan text clearly does refer to Tathagagat-garbha and does not use "Buddhic Essence") without some sort of explanation of why I do that (the same with my "Buddha-Principle" for "Buddha-dhatu"). Also, I do agree with you that the linking of Tathagatagarbha doctrine with Yogacara is potentially confusing (I did not write that part of the relevant article). I also agree with you that there should be something on the "Uttara Tantra" in Wikipedia (I have not included it in my section on TG sutras as it is not a sutra!). I'm interested in your point that there are different classifications and distinctions made by the Chinese of Buddha-dhatu/ Tathagata-garbha in the "Nirvana Sutra". I should really try to get hold of Grosnick's work. I only know his fine introduction to his translation of the "Tathagatagarbha Sutra". It may be that I have missed subtle distinictions between the two terms in the MPNS, so I need to pay more attention to this henceforth. On the other hand, I have just checked through some key passages in the Tibetan Nirvana Sutra and it seems that the "garbha" and "dhatu" are pretty much equated (at least in this text). There are a number of examples I could cite, but here is just one (the Buddha is speaking here):

"The tathāgata-dhātu is the intrinsic nature (svabhāva, prakṛti) of beings. Therefore, it cannot be killed by having its life severed. If it could be killed, then the life-force (jīvaka) could be annihilated (atyanta-abhāvī-kṛta), but it is not possible for the life-force to be annihilated. In this instance, the life-force refers to the tathāgata-garbha. That [tathāgata]-dhātu cannot be destroyed, killed or annihilated but also it cannot be seen very clearly as long as buddhahood has not been attained."

I think you are probably right when you speak of later texts drawing a distinction between the two terms, but in the "Nirvana Sutra" I really cannot see a big difference between them - try as I might. But I could be wrong on this, of course! My honest impression, though, after engaging with the "Nirvana Sutra" for years, is that the MPNS (in its various versions) sees no conflict in meaning between the "tathagatagarbha" and the "Buddha-dhatu" - they are essentially the same Awakened Reality which has the power to awaken the being into Buddhahood. But I really should try to get hold of Grosnick's dissertation. Thanks for letting me know about it.

On your point about not speaking of a "view of Emptiness": yes, I can fully understand your uneasiness here, as "view" is usually negative in Buddhism (although not always, as the first step on the Noble Eightfold Path is precisely - "right view/seeing"). So I don't mind at all if you change that bit to something like "understanding of/insight into Emptiness".

Oh! On the point (posted on my Talkpage) about "tongues festering" in those who preach the Hinayana sutras: I did actually e-mail you at the time on that, but I fear my e-mail did not reach you. To answer your query here: no, the "Nirvana Sutra" definitely does not say that. I checked all the main versions, and it is not there. I don't know where that idea in Nichiren came from!

Sorry this is a bit brief, Munge. Duty calls me away! But before I do vanish I want to thank you for your very well-argued points. It was so refreshing to read your helpful ideas and suggestions. I'll try to incorporate some of them into the entry when I've got a bit more time. Thanks again for all your help. All the very best to you. - Tony (TonyMPNS 09:04, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC))

I don't know the MPNS at all except 2nd hand and as you see, from sources some of which are highly questionable (which was why I questioned it!) However it would not surprise me if the MPNS does not draw such a fine distinction as the later BNT, which I have been studying. In part, I understand the BNT came about because controversial issues emerged, including as a result of perceived unresolved questions raised by the MPNS (though maybe the Ratnagotra started to address them). E.g. somebody (Paramartha?) wanted to reconcile what were seen as unexplained points--how to parse atman when used in a Buddhist context governed by anatman, without devolving into drivel, nor identifying with monism, nor playing one-upsmanship with the upaya card. A ripping yarn that I won't go into here but must be told on the Buddha Nature and anatta pages at some point. BNT also responds to an issue that I think was raised by readers of the MPNS and the critics of Tao Sheng, namely why practice if nirvana is samsara and the incorrigible are already enlightened? (An issue near and dear to Dogen, who is the central topic of Grosnick's dissertation.) The reason being, according to BNT, is not because practice is prior to transformation but because practice is transformation. (Which actually leads to more unresolved issues; did Dogen later change his mind about just that identity? Perhaps there will be a Critical Buddhism page in my lifetime.) What does that have to do with the issue you mention? In the BNT, tathagatagarbha is identified with alayavijnana, and these comprise one of several aspects of Buddha nature, (just as one might say that ability to apprehend thusness is an attribute of the awakened person). Just to put it in context, another aspect of Buddha Nature in the BNT is the asrayaparavrrtti (loosely, personal transformation), which the BNT identifies as practice (yoga). Well, I've drifted, and sorry if some of the above is naive misunderstanding of the MPNS. Will be preoccupied for the next week or so, so once again, this has been very stimulating, and let's do it again soon. And thanks for the confirmation on no "festering tongues"; hard to prove a negative but I figure if any English-speaker on earth could give it the fine tooth comb, that'd be you. --Munge 04:04, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Thank you very much for your kind words, Munge. I have found your comments on the Uttara Tantra etc. interesting and useful. Best wishes - Tony (TonyMPNS 10:39, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC))

Hi, maybe someone could check the Japanese links, the entry linked seems to be more about the sky then about emptiness ? Maybe the right link is That being said, in that link someone maybe could check the English meaning, or is "sunya" there correct as well ? Also a link there could be fine. I would prefer leaving all that to people with good Japanese and wikipedia technical knowledge. Best wishes -- 09:17, 21 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Void Versus Dao?[edit]

What is the difference between the "void" in Buddhism and the "Dao" described by Lao Zi? Le Anh-Huy 09:08, 22 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Very, very different. No use trying to compare the two. rudy 22:13, 22 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Care to help explain, please? Le Anh-Huy (talk) 10:32, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


To me, this reads like a religious pamphlet. Citation requests will be added accordingly. Patrick Schwemmer 07:21, 16 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree patrick, I am trying to make some improvements, but I'm not good at finding the exact sources.. rudy 14:19, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It needs initial context. "xxx is the spiritual concept of yyy, most examined in zzz" might be a start. I started reading and was prepared to drop it, shrug and carry on home.

Mind or consciousness[edit]

Re the statement that "in the Cittamatra school it is said that the mind itself ultimately exists", would it be more accurate to say that "...consciousness ultimately exists"? It seems a matter of experience that consciousness (awareness of awareness, as distinct from awareness itself or other objects of consciousness) is ultimately real and empty; but I'm not sure if this is what the Cittamatra school teaches. DavidCooke 02:25, 16 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Is this fantasy only or are those imaginations rooted in buddhist scriptures or oral believes?

Austerlitz -- (talk) 14:55, 8 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Meaning of Sunyata in Nagarjuna's Philosophy —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:14, 11 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Flux is not unique[edit]


Regarding this statement: "...the teaching on the emptiness of persons and phenomena is unique to Buddhism, constituting an important metaphysical critique of theism with profound implications for epistemology and phenomenology."

That this idea of flux, interdependence and emptiness would be unique to Buddhishm is not accurate. Similar ideas are part of a long-standing tradition in western thought ever since Heraclitus 535 BC. The concept of nothingness has played an equally important role as Being in western thought, which would not the least explain the ready acceptance of Buddhist thought in the west.

I recommend that the claim of it being "unique" be substantiated with some references of comparison, if it plays an essential role in the article.


A no one —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 21 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Emptiness", not "zero-ness"[edit]

It is true that "śūnya" can mean "zero". That is in arithmetical contexts. This is a religious context. I've changed the wording under "Nomenclature and etymology" to show this. The primary meanings in the citation I've provided are "empty" and "void". Before reverting, please discuss, explaining how an arithmetic allusion helps here. Moonsell (talk) 09:01, 4 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don’t advocate ‘zero-ness’ as a translation choice for śūnyatā in relation to madhyamaka, but the Sanskrit term inescapably *does* hold a resonance of that meaning, and it may be usefully related to the mathematical usage of zero (śūnya) as both a mere absence, and as a multiplicative place holder. The difference between ten to the power of one, and ten to the power of ten, for example, is ‘only’ śūnya, and the ‘capacity’ (so to speak) of śūnyatā to allow infinite manifold appearances is usefully analogised by the mathematical example. In other words, the usage of śūnya in mathematics is not confined to being an emptiness, a mere absence, but also as an exponential multiplication factor, a ‘creative’ factor, and many madhyamakas (though not all) argue along analogous lines regarding śūnyatā (dzogchenpas and shentongpas, for example). As I say, I don’t advocate that ‘zero’ would be a useful translation term in madhyamaka, but it does seem a shame that English doesn’t currently have a term that *includes* that aspect of meaning resonant within the Sanskrit. For this reason, śūnyatā seems to me as good a candidate as any, given it’s centrality in the Mahāyāna for being brought into the English vocabulary alongside dharma, nirvāṇa, sam̐sāra, and others. Conspiracyofjoy (talk) 05:05, 25 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Capitalisation of śūnyatā[edit]

Can I suggest śūnyatā not be capitalised unless at the *beginning* of a sentence or heading. It is a common noun, not a proper one. Moonsell (talk) 09:05, 4 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Everything is inter-related and mutually dependent"[edit]

Under "Exegisis" we have: "Śūnyatā signifies that everything one encounters in life is empty of absolute identity, permanence, or an in-dwelling 'self'. This is because everything is inter-related and mutually dependent - never wholly self-sufficient or independent." Does anyone have a source for everything being inter-related and mutually dependent? In the article the phrase, "inter-related and mutually dependent" is linked to pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) and looks like a misunderstanding of that concept. I recall reading the "Avataṃsaka Sūtra" has some idea like this that spawned a whole school of Buddhism in China, but otherwise the vast majority of Buddhists would agree that not everything depends on everything else. My face, for example, does not depend on a rock or vice versa. Moonsell (talk) 09:46, 4 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Emptiness in other systems[edit]

This section, although curious and even sourced, would seem to have little more than trivia value in an article on Buddhist emptiness. I urge that we delete it as too tangential. Moonsell (talk) 08:10, 5 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That section was pure nonsense in grammatically incorrect, incoherent language. I deleted it entirely.Sylvain1972 (talk) 14:05, 24 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that if two major scools speake about emptyness then emptyness is not just a philosophical term. It is the high energy which creates forms and it is herefore not limited to buddhism. I think that we should think more universal. The Kabbala with Belimah and the Ain Soph Aur is very similar to Buddhism. Manbu (talk) 10:44, 24 May 2010 (UTC) --Reply[reply]

The Buddhist Concept of Emptiness[edit]

The final section of the article is called "The Buddhist Concept of Emptiness". It contains excellent material that is, however, wholly Mādhyamaka and could well be moved to another section. If it is appropriate to leave it where it is as the last word on the subject, at least it might be renamed to something less generic. Moonsell (talk) 08:16, 5 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Citation needed: found[edit]

Sorry, I don't know how to insert citations but Murti in The Central Philosophy of Buddhism [p7-8] says that the madhyamika karikas equates emptiness and pratitya-samutpada. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:11, 6 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Type this "[1]" and type your title instead of "Insert footnote text here".
  1. ^ Insert footnote text here
Gantuya eng (talk) 08:04, 6 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, my helping is difficult.Gantuya eng (talk) 08:06, 6 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Worst lead ever[edit]

Discusses etymology, context, semantical class &c. but no word on what it actually is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:14, 8 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Buddha nature sutras and emptiness[edit]

I have restored the section on the Buddha-nature sutras and emptiness. This had been unjustly removed by another editor. It is undesirable practice on Wikipedia to remove a large section of content without discussion first, especially when that section contains referenced quotes from scholars: this is not only potentially an act of censorship but also an act of discourtesy towards other editors, who may have spent precious time on collating materials and references for the section that has been removed. In the present case, the redirect to 'tathagatagarbha sutras' fails to do justice to the material found in the deleted section - since that deleted material is largely absent from the 'tathagatagarbha sutras' article, and thus important information is denied the Wikipedia reader. Please do not in future remove referenced material without discussion and editorial consent first. Thank you. Suddha (talk) 05:34, 14 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Paragraph added to lead[edit]

I have some concerns about a paragraph recently added to the lead by LhunGrub here. My concerns are as follows:

  1. The statement is unclear to me. As I have a fair general understanding of Buddhism, yet have difficulty understanding it, would it be understandable to the general reader? How could it be expressed more simply and clearly?
  2. Despite its apparent lack of clarity, there seems to be an implication that Theravada is wrong and that Mahayana has the correct view in this statement: "... However Theravada's Abhidharma makes the aggregates into 'primary existents'. Mahayana arose partly as a response to various "new" Abhidharmas, such as the one followed in Theravada, which put forth the notion that the aggregates are 'primary existents'..." The statement does not seem to be written from a neutral point of view. How could it be written in a neutral manner?
  3. How does this paragraph relate to Sunyata? Such a connection would be important for the lead.
  4. If it were written more clearly and in a neutral manner, would it still belong in the lead (bearing in mind that the lead is an overview)?

As I have scant expertise in Theravada, I would like to hear the views of someone who has a good understanding of this tradition. In the meantime, would LhunGrub agree to discuss this matter here rather than edit warring? Sunray (talk) 04:12, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The language reflects the source. Dr. Paul Williams who is a primary source for the Wikipedia Buddhism pages calls Abhidharma an "innovation". I used the word "new". I can compromise and leave out the last sentence. LhunGrub (talk) 04:30, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is not a matter of providing sources that support one's particular point of view. WP:NPOV requires us to ensure that articles are written in a neutral manner: "Articles mustn't take sides, but should explain the sides, fairly and without bias." I would like to hear the view of a Theravadan scholar on what you have written. In the meantime, would you be able to quote the exact text from Williams that supports what you have written? This would help editors evaluate the clarity of the paragraph and its faithfulness to the source. Sunray (talk) 04:40, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is exactly what I am saying. You have not provided ONE rebuttal academic source at all ! If you did, then I would be cool with it. You are someone who denies basic historical facts, which is not NPOV. LhunGrub (talk) 04:45, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps I wasn't clear. My main point was that what you have written does not appear to be written in a neutral manner. That has to do with the weight given to particular sources, not the sources themselves. However, my second point was that you may wish to quote from your Williams to show that what you have written is faithful to the source you have quoted. If you are unwilling or unable to do that, let's wait for other editors to comment. Sunray (talk) 05:43, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tell me how its not neutral language. Keep in mind, that I am dropping the last sentence I originally had there. LhunGrub (talk) 06:08, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I raised four concerns at the beginning of this section. Take a look at #2 regarding neutrality. Do Theravadan writers agree with your statement? It would be helpful to be able to answer that. Sunray (talk) 06:20, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes in Theravada, the aggegates are indeed 'primary existents.' And yes Mahayana arose in response to that. This is really not controversial Sunray. You claim to be familar with Buddhism, but I see no evidence of that. LhunGrub (talk) 06:26, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Right, well I will check that out. Meanwhile, I raised three other concerns. Sunray (talk) 07:00, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Would someone who is knowledgeable in the Theravada tradition be able to comment on this? Sunray (talk) 16:47, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes of course. It is a cliché that the aggregates are existents in Theravada. Thats the whole point of Abhidharma. LhunGrub (talk) 17:14, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Obviously, I mean someone other than LhunGrub, who may be biased. :) Sunray (talk) 18:58, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The material that is being discussed seems overly technical. If it is determined that this material is to be inserted in the article, I think it needs to be clarified.
However, I do have an issue with the first sentence, "All of extant Buddhism, including Theravada, considers any person to be a mere conceptual construct designated upon a bundle of aggregates." That's good to know, and cool, I guess. Only that isn't exactly true as written. That seems to imply that every tradition of Buddhism says that people are aggregates and nothing else. I cannot speak for every tradition of Buddhism, especially the Theravada traditions, but to say that all of Buddhism considers a person to be a mere conceptual construct based on aggregates is misleading, at best. "...the scheme of the five aggregates is not meant to be an exhaustive classification of the human being: rather 'It describes the rūpa and arūpa aspects of the way an individual manifests which, when understood, illustrates the inappropriateness of thinking in terms of separate selfhood'" Identity and Experience: The Constitution of the Human Being According to Early Buddhism. By Sue Hamilton, 1996, ISBN 1-898942-10-2, Page 35 - SudoGhost 19:36, 6 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That quote does not counter at all the fact that people are bundles of aggregates in Buddhism. It actually reinforces it and gives a lens to interpret the teaching. What tradition does not adhere to this??BuddhasBiographer (talk) 22:34, 6 October 2011 (UTC) BuddhasBiographer (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic. Reply[reply]
You may want to re-read it again then. "The scheme of the five aggregates is not meant to be an exhaustive classification of the human being." How this supports what you're saying is beyond me. To declare that all of these traditions (that disagree on very fundamental things in Buddhism) all classify humans as nothing but aggregates is going to require a very strong source that leaves no doubt, because that's a very bold claim. In fact, I can't think of a single thing that all traditions agree on. The entire reason that there are differing schools of Buddhism is because they each have a different way of thought. The source that you currently attribute to this is not sufficient for such a claim. It also requires clarification, because what constitutes a person? Depending on who you ask, the answer you get is going to very wildly, especially when given in the context of religion and philosophy. - SudoGhost 23:17, 6 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah I agree with the source. The aggregates are themselves made up of other causes, and are not necessarily supposed to be taken super literally. So what? Why didn't you answer my simple question? What extant BUDDHIST tradition does not believe in a person being made of Skandha?BuddhasBiographer (talk) 23:26, 6 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On p125, Williams claims nothing of the sort. He mentions that in 3rd century Buddhism, the Pudgalavada appear to be distinguished in their views of the self, but that there are very few entailments to be derived from that. Similar interpretations of Williams are just as inaccurate. The assertion is not found in Williams; very few scholars would make such broad claims as the ones LhunDrub suggests. For good reason. It is wildly naive to imagine that the entire sum of all Buddhist thought ( even if we are limiting ourselves to extant Buddhism ) can be depicted in a unilateral statement. I remember a few years ago trying to find enough evidence to be able to assert that all Buddhists recognise the four noble truths, and even this proved to be extremely hard. Regarding views of self, let alone Sunyata, I do believe that there are many differing beliefs within extant Buddhism. Even if LhunDrub were correct, the nature of what may be construed as a 'mere conceptual construct' is open up to many interpretations, regardless of anything else, that a commonality would not be found.
LhunDrub, I appreciate your intentions of attempting to find commonalities, however I firmly believe that your desire to do so is clouding your ability as a contributer to Wkipedia. Moreover, I question the need for such an attempt. Differences do not necessitate conflict - indeed there is a strong Tibetan tradition (the oral Lam Rim tradition) that suggests a place for many, many different teachings, all in accordance with the needs of each practitioner, and therefore not only are all Buddhist teaching not in conflict but also no other religious teachings are in conflict either. It is only as a Buddha that we can identify the right Dharma for each individual, so clearly this is not a simple task! Likewise, and especially for a Madhyamika, any ideation of a single objective truth or objective hierarchy of practice is an absolutist ideation 20040302 (talk) 21:43, 6 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You are wrong. Paul Williams does indeed say this on that very page in plain English: "This contrasts with the position acceptable to other schools, like the Theravada or Sarvastivada, that any personhood, any pudgala, is just a conceptual construct...". Since Dr. Williams was talking about a really weird extinct school, it is very true this principle applies to every extant school. I was wondering what happened to this information. BuddhasBiographer (talk) 22:14, 6 October 2011 (UTC) BuddhasBiographer (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic. Reply[reply]
No, BB, clearly not. First of all, the context of the entire section that has been referred to is 4th C and earlier, which is most notable by the inclusion of the Sarvastivada, which is not an extant school (even though the Sarvastivada Vinaya tradition is extant, there is no correlating school today), more importantly are several non sequiturs implicit in the interpretation: 'other schools like a,b' does not imply 'all other schools' and likewise there is no reason to interpret the 'other schools' as being extant schools merely because the referent is non-extant, and there is a problem of scope - Williams only mentions Nikaya schools. LhunDrub's opening sentence has somehow taken this rather straightforward (if somewhat irrelevant) text and with a magic wand of WP:OR turned it into a statement of all extant schools, which is deeply worrying. Look, here is a concrete analogue: "the dodo, which was flightless, contrasts with other pigeons such as the passenger pigeon and the turtledove (which fly)". If we accept that sentence, then according to you (BB) and LhunDraub, we have to accept that all existing birds fly. Moreover, and regardless, even though Williams is very well versed in Buddhist philosophy, and I have had several illuminating discussions with him on various aspects of it, I believe that he may be (possibly for the sake of brevity) conflating the views of the Sarvastivadins and the Theravadins of that era. Forgive me, but can you show me that you aren't a sock puppet? 20040302 (talk) 07:29, 7 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just to be clear here, my concerns with LhunDrub's contribution do not end with the first sentence. I don't even know why we are discussing the nature of self on the Sunyata page. My contention is that LhunDrub is failing to demonstrate an ability to comprehend academic text and that he defends his interpretations behind an erroneous view of copyright. His assertions appear to betray a lack of recognition of the vast depth, scope and variety of the ocean of Buddha-Dharma. I encourage him to set up his own website or blog within which to expose his views; even better, to write a book and get It published. In light of his somewhat defensive and inflexible responses I'm not convinced that LhunDrup really understands the spirit of collaboration which is the bedrock of Wikipedia. 20040302 (talk) 08:43, 7 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You are right that page 125 does not mention all extant schools. But the rest of the book does. Moreover I can provide a million sources that substantiate that, since this basic Buddhism 101. Even other places in Wikipedia say that same thing. Its obvious we have some Judeo-Christians here that don't understand the simplest aspects of Buddhism. BuddhasBiographer (talk) 15:52, 7 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
LuhnGrub, why are you not commenting as yourself? You will not be taken seriously by trying to speak through a sockpuppet (BuddhasBiographer). Would you be able to slow down and begin trying to learn the culture and norms of editing Wikipedia? Sunray (talk) 16:05, 7 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks to 20040302 and SudoGhost for their apt comments. You have both expressed concerns with the addition of this text to the article lead. We have consensus that the paragraph does not belong in the lead. Hopefully LhunGrub, (who appears to have weakened his credibility by resorting to sockpuppetry) will be able to benefit from your comments. Sunray (talk) 16:16, 7 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please note that LhunGrub and BB were, unsurprisingly, the same person, and were both indef blocked as sockpuppets of another user. BB's comments were creating an illusion of support that did not exist, as they were both the same user. - SudoGhost 09:24, 8 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lol, well yes it was rather transparent.. I can only believe that one individual could begin to interpret William's text in such a unique manner. It was good sleuthing to identify Thigle as the parent account. While I am here, Sunray, thank-you for your kind comment. I am all too aware of the rather unwieldy state that these articles are in, and wish that I could find the time, wisdom and patience to be able to contribute more. In a sense I believe that many Buddhists (and non-Buddhists) feel that 'their' Dharma isn't well reflected in the articles on Wikipedia, and it takes a lot of courage to find a way of being able to express that. As alluded to earlier, I believe that Thigle's intentions were good, but that he needs to work more on understanding the variety of views that there are (and also reading comprehension). He is not alone! I often find it very difficult not to see things from a polarised viewpoint, and often tend to believe that -my- Dharma view is the best! Well, when I am more aware, I remember that it is indeed the best for me, and though my journey is wonderful, it includes (for me!) the need to identify and celebrate the fact that Dharma is infinite in it's variety. (20040302 (talk) 15:51, 8 October 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Lead para.... Continued[edit]

You are right that page 125 does not mention all extant schools. But the rest of the book does. Moreover I can provide a million sources that substantiate that, since this basic Buddhism 101. Even other places in Wikipedia say that same thing. Its obvious we have some Judeo-Christians here that don't understand the simplest aspects of Buddhism. BuddhasBiographer (talk) 15:52, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

I am not convinced that being Judao-Christian disqualifies one from being able to make sensible comments about Buddhism. Indeed, in the UK such sentiment is illegal within a professional sphere. As it happens, I am a third generation practicing Buddhist, with more than 30 years of study and meditation experience, while Dr. Paul Williams is well-known for being a Roman Catholic, yet that has not been cause of criticism on my behalf. Such base attacks are very unlikely to be welcome here. Back to the topic, you only need to find one reliable source that unambiguously makes the statement you wish to substantiate. 20040302 (talk) 16:31, 7 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Many years ago I had the good fortune to listen to Alan Watts give a talk about Buddhism. His way of talking was very simple and direct—readily understandable, but not simplistic—rather like a good Wikipedia article :) He spoke about the self as a "case of mistaken identity" and described Buddhist identity. At the end of the talk, he asked if anyone had questions. A man said something along the lines of: "Mistaken identity, eh, what if I were to come up there, point a gun at you and demand your wallet, and identity cards." Watts was silent for a long moment, then replied: "Now you are really getting at the root of this question." Many who study and practice Buddhism, like Watts, come from a Judeo-Christian heritage. It is the water we swim in in the West. In no way does it disqualify us from writing about Buddhism here, as long as we follow WP policies, paying particular respect to neutrality and verifiability in our editing; commenting on content, not the contributor, maintaining civility and respecting consensus on talk pages. Sunray (talk) 20:33, 7 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All you need to do is remove the 'all of extant Buddhism' part which is not mentioned on page 125. I went ahead and removed that bit. Thigle2 (talk) 19:50, 13 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thigle, without the 'all of extant Buddhism' claim, the text refers merely to ~4thC Nikaya schools, and is not relevant to the article. 20040302 (talk) 23:13, 13 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Para 2 is still not right. Para 3 is bad.[edit]

'In Buddhism, emptiness is a characteristic of phenomena, arising from the Buddha's observation that nothing possesses an essential, enduring identity (see anattā), by virtue of dependent origination. Thus to say an object is "empty" is synonymous with saying that thing is dependently originated. Śūnyatā generally holds that all things, including oneself, appear as thoughtforms (conceptual constructs). This view is roughly shared by the historically related Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, Mādhyamaka and Yogācāra

I seem to recall that :the PoW. sutras (2nd turning) are definitive only for the Madhyamika (I think!), and that the Yogacarya views are not similar - don't they consider the third turning/tathagathagharba sutras to be definitive?. I am yet to be convinced that the identity of emptiness (of inherent existence) with dependant origination is not unique to the Madhyamaka of Nagarjuna, I'm not sure that the identity is made in the PoW sutras..

Secondly, Candrakirti states, When knowing selflessness, some eliminate a permanent self, but we do not consider this to be the basis of the conception of "I" It is therefore astonishing that knowing this selflessness expunges and uproots the view of self. —Madhyamakāvatāra 6.140[29]

so we must be clear that 'enduring' is not cognate with 'permanent' - a subtlety that I believe would be missed by most readers. Moreover, there is a strong distinction between dependant designation and dependant origination:- the former depends upon mind ('conceptual constructs') and the latter depends upon Karma. (I will find a quote, - of course such terminology is only relevant to the Madhyamikas).

Therefore, 'in Buddhism' is too large a scope, and likewise the ramaining text appears confused.

Thigle(2) appears to consider that there are some Buddhist scholars who deny that emptiness is an emptiness of inherent existence- however, we appear to be waiting for a relevant unambiguous cite for that.

My understanding is that in general, the Theravada limit themselves to the emptiness of an inherent self (anatta) as one of the three marks, as they are not concerned with other phenomena; and (if I recall correctly) questioning the nature of the world is a distraction from the practise of the three higher trainings, whereas for the Mahayana schools that depend upon the three higher trainings, perceiving phenomena (other than self) as inherent may be an obstacle to omniscience. Hm, but I believe that there may be some different views on the underlying logic for this even between the colleges of a single monastery of the Gelug! Certainly this sort of discussion is not relevant to a general introduction to Sunyata

I would like to say that it is common in Buddhism for ignorance to be held as the root of Samsara, but there are likely to be differing views, maybe in some of the pure land schools, or certain tantra traditions (not that I am denigrating them for this!) Certainly the question of just what the ignorance is of (and it's nature) does appear to differ (at least subtly) between schools. 20040302 (talk) 23:48, 13 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your comments, 20040302. I agree with you that we are waiting for an unambiguous citation that affirms that some Buddhist scholars deny that emptiness is an emptiness of inherent existence. I do not understand why Thigle2 is making a significant change to the lead without first securing consensus here. I will revert his addition until we have consensus on a citation to support the statement. Sunray (talk) 00:48, 14 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(Personal attack by Thigle3 removed) Thigle3, a sockpuppet of Thigle, has been indefinitely blocked. Sunray (talk) 04:44, 14 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Although Thigle's behaviour in recent days has been unacceptable (especially for a 'Buddhist'!), he is right on one point (if I do not misrepresent him): there is a teaching within Buddhism, found particularly in the Jonang school of Buddhism, that states that the Buddha Nature (tathagatagarbha) is the only dharma that is not empty of itself: it is real, perduring and perfect. I have added a couple of bits to this effect to the article. Best wishes. Suddha (talk) 07:38, 14 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Suddha, yes I agree that the Jonangpa have a distinguished view here - in fact my basic premise is that for nearly any statement about Buddhism, there is a Buddhist school, tradition, or opinion which differs from that! Far earlier were the Pudgalavada who appeared to subscribe to a substantial 'self'. I subscribe to Thigle's project of attempting to determine commonalities, but I also do not believe that an article reads well when every assertion is then supplied with a list of contra-positions, if you get me. I am currently reading the Williams text (and associated papers) in order to see if I can find anything of particular use from Thigle's submissions. (20040302 (talk) 09:22, 14 October 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]
  • Thanks, 2004, for your nice message. I understand your point and, basically, think you are right: there are almost as many Buddhisms as Buddhists! One thing that Thigle (or his LhunGrub incarnation) said which I think was wrong, however, was that the Pudgalavadins were a 'weird' sect (implying deviant and wrong ) - whereas, as I am sure you know, they represented at that time in Indian Buddhist history a majority, mainstream Buddhist viewpoint. They endured for many, many decades (even centuries). Today a similar seemingly 'unorthodox' viewpoint (on the reality of a non-empty essence or Self in all beings) is found in the Dhammakaya movement of Thailand, which is a Theravada branch of considerable size and popularity; and of course the early Tathagatagarbha scriptures seem to go out of their way to counter the idea that absolutely everything, without exception, is empty and therefore not truly real (for them the Dharmakaya-Buddha is real and changeless, as is his Nature; this is also the Jonangpa view). Just parenthetically, I want to compliment you, 2004, on your exemplary urbane style of discussion on these Buddhist pages: you display a fairness and reasonableness which does you (and incidentally sincere Buddhist practice) much credit! Warm regards. Suddha (talk) 10:50, 14 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for your kind words, Suddha! 20040302 (talk) 13:08, 14 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suñña Sutta (SN 35.85)[edit]

Trans. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Suñña Sutta (SN 35.85)

Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

"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. And what is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty...

"The nose is empty...

"The tongue is empty...

"The body is empty...

"The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."

This is a very early reference to Sunyata, as found in the Pali canon, and it clearly correlates Sunyata with Anatta: "it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Therefore, we can pretty safely state that Sunyata is the emptiness of self or anything pertaining to a self.

However, and although I agree with it, the direct correlation of Sunyata with Pratītyasamutpāda belongs only to some schools, such as the Madhyamaka. (20040302 (talk) 10:02, 25 October 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Substantial restructuring.[edit]

As is understandable due to the large amount of scholarship following the Mahayana schools, the article tends to slip ideas pertaining to the Mahayana into the introductory text. The correlation of Sunyata with Pratītyasamutpāda being one of them. This restructuring is a start at rebalancing and organising the article to maintain NPOV.

I encourage editors to consider whether or not the scope of their source irrefutably and explicitly covers the entirety of Buddhism and all the various Buddhist schools of thought. If not, then it is probably best to find a section for which it belongs. (20040302 (talk) 10:39, 25 October 2011 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Edit Ping-pong 29-02-2012[edit]

Seems to me that Goologs removals are okay! Let's keep it. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 19:57, 29 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks. Gooolog (talk) 01:38, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Better this way"?[edit]

Gooloog, I would appreciate it if you could explain what's better "this way"? You may disapprove with themove of Tibetan standpoints to separate sections, but I also put in extra info on the prajnaparamitra, short intro's to the Tibetan schools, added subheaders, and shortened the long quotes. It seems to me that you just copied back your last version, without considering the exact changes, and the value of those changes. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 18:57, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I put some of your content back in. Gooolog (talk) 02:40, 2 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm sorry, but I don't see what you did put back. What you put back is some content that was already there. My point with putting the Tibetan point of view in a separate section, is that those points of view can be seen as part of the Madhyamaka-tradition proper, but they can also be seen as part of a specific sub-tradition. When separating those two sections in this way, it's cleared for an "outsider" what's the "essence" of Madhyamaka, and what's part of later developments in the various traditions. And anyway, short intro's to the subsections,which you removed, will be helpfull for comprehending the contents of the subsections. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 18:14, 2 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've put back some of my contributions myself. Before you remove them en block again, I would appreciate it if you first discuss it. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 18:50, 2 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't see the direct quote of "conceptual existents, empty of own-existence" anywhere in the cited sources. I replaced that part. In Prasangika, the first paragraphs are not the defining features of Prasangika. So I eliminated that. So I made quite minor changes. Gooolog (talk) 01:04, 3 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Gooloog. Better this way indeed. The quote is in the source, but this way it's okay too. I checked the source, because the original line said "all things, including oneself, appear as thoughtforms (conceptual constructs)". This is suggestive of the idealist form of Yogara, because of the word "thoughtforms", which of course resembles "citta-matra".

I do agree with you that the section on Buddha-nature seems to be out of place in this article. On the other hand, if you look at Chinese Buddhism, especially the Chán-tradition, it's clear that sunyata and Buddha-nature may be regarded as opposites, but can also be reconciled. It could be interesting to create a third main-section, where is described how the different traditions (at least Theravada, Tibetan and Chán) look at the relation between sunyata, Buddha-nature and Yogacara/cognition. There is also a relation with modern (western) Buddhism, with it's tendency to reify our 'true nature'. Friendly regards, Joshua Jonathan (talk) 13:38, 3 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comment: The editor Gooolog has been blocked as a sockpuppet of Thigle. Problem solved. - SudoGhost 15:57, 3 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I noticed. I'm not surprised. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 16:31, 3 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Thank you, Joshua, for your comments and general work on this article. I see that a sockpuppet has been opposing you! By the way, I do think that we need to retain what is here on the Buddha-Nature approach to Emptiness, as it is very distinctive (although some scholars, as indicated here, read the teaching differently). I added a quote on the Nirvana Sutra, but then decided it was too long and unwieldy, so have removed it. In the end, I've just made a smallish modification to the Intro on the Buddha-nature section, etc. All best wishes to you. From Suddha (talk) 05:30, 4 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Suddha. I already considered to leave a message on your user-page, to notify you that I am working on the Sunyata-page, since you made quite some effort to make it clear that there are also more 'substantial' understandings of 'ultimate truth'. I found it interesting to read what the Jonang-school has got to say on it. Different readings can also be found in the nikayas:

'Name-&-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.'[2]

Compare this with the following:

"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"[3]

Not exactly the same, is it? It's interesting that even the oldest texts contain various ideas on this subject. Friendly regards, Joshua Jonathan (talk) 07:17, 4 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Intro to Prasangika[edit]

Regarding the subsection on Prasangika, I'll put back the line "The Prasangika is a sub-school of the Madhyamaka", just as an intro for the "average" Wikipdeia-user (I picture a 17-year old Highschool-student, who's got to write a paper, and needs an orientation on the subject). Joshua Jonathan (talk) 14:38, 3 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I moved the Dolpopa-quote to the Jonang-section, to keep the Buddha-nature intro as short as possible. Of course it's arbitrary where to put it; it could also be at the Buddha-natyre section. But I reasoned that "average" readers will drown when too much info is presented, and that the plurality of views is better understandable when they can be linked to specific schools and traditions, which further specify topics already being introduced in previous sections. I hope this explains what my considerations are to move the quote. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 07:47, 4 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Hi again Joshua. Your changes are great - you have a decided talent for re-arranging material into a much more reader-friendly format. Thanks for all your splendid work (and the interesting exrra information you gave me). Warm wishes as always. From Suddha (talk) 09:47, 4 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for your appreciation. :) Joshua Jonathan (talk) 09:52, 4 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not Vandalism[edit]

My edit is being seen by wikipedia as vandalism. It is an updated tranlsation from a book published in 2004. Borakai (talk) 20:47, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nobody said it was vandalism, but you're making an arbitrary change from one translation to another without explaining why it should be made. - SudoGhost 20:49, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well thats not accurate, but whatever. Borakai (talk) 20:59, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think a more clear, recent translation from a book is better than an older one off a website. I'm not saying the website one is wrong though. Borakai (talk) 20:51, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't see how it is being more clear, in fact you're removing information explaining what Sutta it is from. Please explain why this translation is being changed, and please do not change the quote further until some consensus is established for the change. Thank you. - SudoGhost 20:53, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The book indicates a different place. It may be a closely related sutta. I can put that info in. Borakai (talk) 20:58, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That still doesn't explain why the change is being made, it doesn't give any additional insight, and the wording reads somewhat awkwardly compared to the previous version. - SudoGhost 21:00, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Identity" is the preferred translation over "self". This is not my opinion, but the opinion of several people including the author of the book. Borakai (talk) 21:02, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As per what? The author that made this translation preferring something doesn't make it "the preferred" translation, and the writing of the translation is still worded awkwardly. - SudoGhost 21:06, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well he has an entire chapter explaining why "identity" is a better translation also. Borakai (talk) 21:08, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
His opinion doesn't make it a fact. - SudoGhost 21:08, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is not an opinion. It is evident from the primary sources, which he quotes. It is not like he simply made it up. Borakai (talk) 21:11, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And the authors that use other translations, does their opinion of the best translation not matter, only this one author? This author thinks his translation is best, no surprise there, who doesn't? Has this author been cited by reliable sources for the use of this translation? - SudoGhost 21:15, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it is overtly obvious that "identity" is a beter translation than "self". What is "self"? What does that "self" mean? Borakai (talk) 21:22, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You're welcome to think that anything is overtly obvious to you, but that doesn't make it so. I'll ask again, has this author been cited by reliable sources for the use of this translation? Otherwise, it's just another author giving his opinion in the face of other translations, nothing more. - SudoGhost 21:25, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know the answer to your question. I do know that "identity" has been used by other authors. Borakai (talk) 21:27, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well the author of the translation currently in the article, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, has been cited by many reliable sources, and is in fact notable for his translations of the Pāli Canon; I'd say that makes this translation more notable than a translation that has not been mentioned by reliable third-party sources. - SudoGhost 21:34, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The author of my source, likewise, has been cited in academic articles. Like this one. Borakai (talk) 21:36, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually I think my book itself is cited in that article!Borakai (talk) 21:38, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It looks like my author is cited in a lot of serious academic journals. 21:40, 24 April 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Borakai (talkcontribs)
This article cites my book and author on page 19 of the PDF. Borakai (talk) 21:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That PDF is from a professor from Brunnholzl's alma mater, I'd say that doesn't exactly display the prominence of the author's writings. I'm still not seeing any reason to change the quote, nor any evidence that identity is "overtly obvious". However, I think input from other editors would help. - SudoGhost 21:54, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well it is evident from this link, he is cited the world over. I just don't have access to the full articles. Borakai (talk) 21:57, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here is another full article which cites my guy. Borakai (talk) 22:00, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm curious what you will find wrong with this journal. Borakai (talk) 22:15, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please assume good faith, comments like that are not appreciated. Barring some convincing reason to change the quotation for the sake of changing it, I think other editors need to comment on this first. I believe Thanissaro Bhikkhu's quotations are more prominently used in reliable sources, not just the author being cited, but the actual translations themselves being cited as well. Brunnholzl has been cited by sources, but I'm not seeing anything that cites this quotation itself, and certainly not frequently enough to warrant changing the quotation. - SudoGhost 22:24, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Really? My guy is cited in serious journals. As far as I know Thanissaro Bhikkhu is mainly used in pop Buddhism. But if you think "self" is a better translation, then I drop the issue. Different people think in special ways. Thanks for your time. Borakai (talk) 22:30, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's an interesting topic on it's own. What term is translated by self/identity? I think atta/atman. "Self" seems the most-used translation. It reminds of the discussion on the Madhyamaka-page on svabhava. "Self" seems to have the same meaning as svabhava, where "identity" means "similar to". Like: the heat of fire is, absolutely seen, not svabhava, but relatively seen it does give an identity, a distinguishing feature. But anyway, Bikkhu Bodhi is well-known, being pop-Buddhist or not. And "self" is the common translation, as far as I can see. Friendly regards, Joshua Jonathan (talk) 05:34, 25 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've checked the source (p.126-127. It's interesting. "Identity" is the translation Brunnhozl uses for atman. He gives a translation of Candrakirti:
"Identity (atman) refers to a nature (svabhava) of entities that does not depend on anything other".
So, indeed, atman and svabhava. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 07:07, 25 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think for the sake of the article adhering to what most reliable sources use, the translation of ātman as self is what is typically used. It is an interesting read, nonetheless. - SudoGhost 07:19, 25 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Claiming inanimate objects, such as tables and chairs, are empty of "self" confusing. On the other hand, "identity" works perfectly for both living and non-living objects. Borakai (talk) 14:52, 25 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How is Thanissaro Bhikkhu more cited than Karl B? Karl B is quite famous and gives lectures on Buddhism. I have never seen Thanissaro Bhikkhu cited in any book...ever. Mahayana people would never have heard of him. So he is neither well-known or well-cited. Atman does mean identity. (talk) 19:13, 11 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Leonardo Vittorio[edit]

I doubt whether the following is from a reliable source WP:RS; I also have a problem understanding what's it about. See also Talk:Madhyamaka#Leonardo Vittorio Arena. Any other opinions?

According to Leonardo Vittorio Arena, void may show some nonsensical features, which are very relevant to confer a positive meaning on it: that implies the absolute absence of meaning of the world and life; accordingly, the human being is exhorted to live his existence without any worrying about normative ethics or a goal to be reached. The complete equivalence between samsara and nirvana indicates that we are already perfect, and freed from every trap the reason might organize to deceive the human being. (source: Arena, Leonardo Vittorio, Nonsense as the Meaning, ebook, 2012)

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 07:56, 6 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Joseph Walser[edit]

~Walser, Joseph (2018), Genealogies of Mahāyāna Buddhism: Emptiness, Power and the Question of Origin, New York: Routledge diff:

Joseph Walser argues that very early on, emptiness as a designation for the foundation of the cosmos was one of the options being debated in royal courts and was held in common by some Buddhists and certain branches of Vedic interpretation. For example, the Maitri Upanishad describes Brahman/Prajapati as being both "empty" and "without an Atman (self)".[1] He argues that it is likely that Buddhist Brahmins, in particular, did not acknowledge that Buddhism was a different religion from the one they learned from their Upanishads. As time went on, some Buddhist philosophers did pit the Buddha's assertion of emptiness against what they understood to be the doctrines of "outsiders," but, not all Buddhists did. As can be seen in the section on "Hinduism" below, the fact that Saivas and Vaisnavas continued to refer to the ultimate as "empty" may well be grounded in the fact that the concept was important before the split between Buddhism and Brahmanism had spread.

...the term is not advocated in the first and probably the earliest chapter of the Perfection of Wisdom. There, the primary teaching appears to be a kind of non-cognition or lack of conceptual awareness. This awareness is said to be the "emptiness samādhi" at the beginning of the second chapter.


  1. ^ See Walser (2018) chapters 8 and 10.

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 02:24, 19 September 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Oppose adding it, after some checks. Our guidelines require that we wait till these views get cited in other peer-reviewed publications, become mainstream. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 10:25, 25 September 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Recent edits[edit]

Not sure why the recent edits by User:Ms Sarah Welch removed a large amount of informative material I added. Please discuss why this was done and how we can reach a consensus, don't just delete and say "this is better". User:Joshua Jonathan can you weigh in? Javierfv1212 16:32, 19 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Javierfv1212: You removed sources such as Hamilton, changed longstanding content, and then added in part what feels like quote farm and undue. I also found the overuse of the Shi Huifeng's interesting paper, such as "a drunkard who sleeps with his mother, a madman wandering naked, etc" content you added as inappropriate and unnecessary. Per WP:BRD, please discuss what you removed and why, also what you wish to add and whether the content you added is mainstream in peer-reviewed scholarship. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 16:43, 19 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ehm... WP:BRD also says: try to improve, instead of simply revert. Quotes can be paraphrased, when necessary. Asking to discuss anything someone wants to add is not how Wikipedia works; you can object specific edits, but not demand wholesale a priori discussion of additions. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:51, 22 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
JJ: Agreed. We already mention Shi Huifeng's work with five cites. Sunyata is a well-discussed subject with zillion papers/books written by so many scholars, as you know. This is not a subject where scholarly publications are in a dearth. Dedicating 25 to 35% on such an important topic to one paper/view with "a drunkard who sleeps with his mother, a madman wandering naked, etc" like content, in one go, is just too much. I would welcome a more balanced update. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 01:21, 29 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Summary of Emptiness[edit]

The subject of this article is Sunyata, or Emptiness. Empty of what? Intrinsic existence. It is that simple. Dependent Origination is the essential point. Things exist as a result of the coming together of causes and conditions. Nothing exists in and of itself. No phenomena exists other than origination through dependence on causes and conditions. There is no intrinsic existence.

Instead of diverging into discussions on Buddhism, various interpretations and all, which belong in a different articles, an article on Emptiness should focus only on Dependent Origination and no Intrinsic Existence. From this arises that effect; all is devoid of essence. The illusion of intrinsic existence is based upon ignorance, which leads to clinging. Such matters and elaborations fill volumes, the subject of other articles. Empty of intrinsic existence, dependent origination, that is sunyata.

  • Je Tsongkhapa - In Praise of Dependent Origination.
  • Nagarjuna - Seventy Verses on Emptiness.
  • Nagarjuna - Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, Ch XXIV.
  • Dalai Lama - Teaching on the Heart Sutra, "Mirror of Wisdom"

Hpfeil (talk) 18:09, 27 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You said: "Instead of diverging into discussions on Buddhism, various interpretations and all" - Do you realize that the doctrine of emptiness is a Buddhist doctrine that developed in early Buddhism, and only later was developed and expanded by Nagarjuna et al.? There were already many ideas about emptiness before Nagarjuna. Making the article only about Nagarjuna's view would be one sided. Furthermore, are you aware that when the Buddha and his contemporaries were teaching, the definition of emptiness that you cite (empty of svabhava) did not exist?☸Javierfv1212☸

Bold clarification with no clue[edit]

I'm responsible for the bold clarification with no clue.

Śūnyatā (Sanskrit: शून्यता, romanized: śūnyatā; Pali: suññatā) pronounced in English as /ʃuːnˈjɑː.tɑː/ (shoon-ya-ta), translated most often as emptiness, vacuity, and sometimes voidness, is a concept found in diverse religions which has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context, with parallel terminology in the liturgical traditions of more than one classical Indian language.

The structural problem here is that parenthetic material should not be mandatory reading on first pass, but without my addition, the language hopping that follows along in the next two paragraphs is inexplicable if you haven't dumpster-dived the hair-splitting parenthetical on first encounter. — MaxEnt 14:48, 1 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pronunciation of "śūnyatā"[edit]

Except for a stab at an English "pronunciation" of the Sanskrit word, the article gives no other IPA pronunciation. The given English pronunciation of śūnyatā is just wrong, whether in English or another language. The Sanskrit word शून्यता, which is correctly transliterated in the article as "śūnyatā", is pronounced, using IPA symbols somewhat roughly, something like /'ʂuːn jɐ taː/, although that needs refinement. For English-only speakers, it will sound something like "SHOON-yuh-tah". The Sanskrit vowels, in their order in the word, are long-u (/u:/), short-a (/ɐ/), long-a (/a:/). Thes long vowels here approximate the English pronunciations "oo" and "ah", and are long in duration of pronunciation. The short-a middle vowel (/ɐ/) is short in length of pronunciation, and not stressed, and has an almost neutral quality to it, and might be heard as not terribly far from a schwa /ə/, albeit with an "ah" quality. The initial consonant (/ʂ/) is a retroflex "s" (heard in English as "sh"). The other consonants are not very disimilar to the English ones, although the combination "न्य", transcribed as "ny" with a short-a vowel sound, is pronounced more as a unit than as separate sounds. The word stress is heard on the first syllable. I hope that this may be useful. Thank you. mkriegel (talk) 19:51, 15 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]