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and Śūnyatā in the Early and Developed
Vietnamese translation: Bồ tát và Tánh không trong kinh tạng Pāli và Đại thừa
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THE CONCEPT OF SUÑÑATĀ AS DEPICTED IN PĀLI NIKĀYAS
According to the Vajrachedikā-prajñā-pāramitā Sūtra (金 剛 般 若 波 羅 密 經), there are two things which are most needful to the Bodhisattva, and to his practice of wisdom: "Never to abandon all beings and to see into the truth that all things are empty",218 are the ones of the most profound, sublime, and influential of all Mahāyāna texts (大 乘 經).
Suññatā, i.e., ‘emptiness’ or ‘voidness’ of all phenomena is stressed in many Mahāyāna scriptures, beginning with the Prajñā-pāramitā Sūtras(般 若 波 羅 密 經), and from that becomes of paramount importance, not only to the Mādhyamika (中 論) and Yogācāra (瑜 伽 論) school in India (including all of their respective subdivisions), but to all the Mahāyāna schools across the geographic landscape, ancient and modern. Śūnyatā (空 性) also plays a critical role in all the Vajrayāna (金 剛 乘) schools as well. Consequently, it is probably not unreasonable to cite its concept as the single most important Mahāyāna (大 乘) innovation. However, just like Bodhisattva (菩 薩), the concept of Śūnyatā (空 性) has also its seeds in the Pāli Nikāyas. By analytical and empirical approach how the concept of Suññatā (空) made impress on the scriptures of Pāli, we will found there are some shades of meanings illustrated as below:
Suññatā as Non-Substantiality
At first, we must give a look in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary219 where ‘empty’ means:
1. (a) having nothing inside; (b) with nobody in it
2. (a) empty of something, without or lacking in (a quality); (b) without sense or purpose: empty threats, words, promises, dreams
And the verb of ‘empty’ means:
1. make something empty
2. (a) empty something out (into/onto) remove the contents of something and put them somewhere else. (b) empty (from/out) of something (into/onto something)
This is the original or first meaning of Suñña (Skt. Śūnya,空) which expresses non-philosophic content and has the sense of ‘empty’, ‘uninhabited’and ‘useless’.
Following these significations which we understand suñña is non-substantiality as opposite of substantiality, full, material, appearance...In fact, the meaning of empty in Buddhism is very profound and sublime and it is rather difficult to cognize because not only neither something, nor figure, nor sound, nor... is empty, but also all living beings, phenomena come to existence by ‘dependent co-arising’ (Pratītyasamutpāda,緣 起 , 因 緣 生 起) is all so-called ‘emptiness’. Here, the emptiness means the true reality that has left the false thoughts or wrong beliefs. That is the reason many times the Buddha has made this statement as follows:
"I, Ānanda, through abiding in (the concept of) emptiness, am now abiding in the fulness thereof ".220
(Suññatāvihārenāhaṁ, Ānanda, etarahi bahulaṁ viharāmīti).221
However, in the evolution of the concept of emptiness in Pāli Nikāyas, the first meaning of empty - ‘non-substantiality’ also can be found as below:
"He sees an empty village and whatever house he may enter he finds it empty, deserted and void".222
(So passeyya suññaṁ gāmam yaññad eve gharam paviseyya rittakaññeva paviseyya tucchakaññeva paviseyya suññakaññeva paviseyya).223
or in the Dialogue of the Buddha also expressed in the same idea:
"Now there comes also a time, brethren, when, sooner or later, this world-system begins to re-evolve. When this happens the Palace of Brahma appears, but it is empty. And some being or other, either because his span of years has passed or his merit is exhausted, falls from that World of Radiance, and comes to life in the Palace of Brahma. And there also he lives made of mind, feeding on joy, radiating light from himself, traversing the air, continuing in glory; and thus does he remain-for a long period of time."224
(Hoti kho so, bhikkhave, samayo yaṁ kadāci karahaci dīghassa addhuno accayena ayaṁ loko vivaṭṭati. Vivaṭṭamāne loke suññaṁ Brahma-vimānaṁ pātu-bhavati. Ath’ aññataro satto āyukkhayā vā puññakkhayā vā Ābhassarakāyā cavitvā suññaṁ Brahma-vimānaṁ upapajjati. So tattha hoti manomayo pīti-bhakkho sayaṁ-pabho antalikkha-caro subhaṭṭhāyī, cīraṁ dīghaṁ addhānaṁ tiṭṭhati).225
or in the Sutta-nipāta occurs as the following lines:
"Look upon the world as being non-substantial, O Mogharaja, being ever so mindful. One surpasses death by uprooting belief in substantiality. Death does not get hold of him who regards the world in this way."
(Sunnato lokam avekkhassu
As suñña means ‘empty’ and ‘void’ it is frequently used in the sense of ‘devoid of’ (this or that quality of character):
"This being so, good Gotama, that fold of the sects is empty
even in regard to attaining heaven.
(Evaṁ sante bho Gotama suññaṁ adun titthāyatanaṁ antamaso
Also in the same text of Majjhima Nikāya but different volume, the Buddha teaches the following valuable that:
"And what, your reverence, is the freedom of mind that is signless? As to this, your reverence, a monk, by paying no attention to any signs, entering on the concentration of mind that is signless, abides therein. This, your reverence, is called the freedom of mind that is signless. This, your reverence, is the method according to which these states are different in connotation as well as differing in denotation. And what, your reverence, is the method according to which these states are identical in connotation while being different in denotation? Attachment, your reverence, is productive of the measurable, hatred is productive of the measurable, confusion is productive of the measurable. For a monk whose cankers are destroyed, these are got rid of, cut off at the roots, made like a palm-tree stump so that they can come to no further existence in the future. To the extent, your reverence, that freedoms of mind are immeasurable, unshakable freedom of mind is shown to be their chief, for that unshakable freedom of mind is void of attachment, void of hatred, void of confusion. Attachment, your reverence, is something (obstructive), hatred is something (obstructive), confusion is something (obstructive). For a monk whose cankers are destroyed, these are got rid of, cut off at the roots, made like a palm-tree stump so that they can come to no further existence in the future. To the extent, your reverence, that freedoms of mind are naught, unshakable freedom of mind is shown to be their chief, for that unshakable freedom of mind is void of attachment, void of hatred, void of confusion. Attachment, your reverence, is productive of signs, hatred is productive of signs, confusion is productive of signs. For a monk whose cankers are destroyed these are got rid of, cut off at the roots, made like a palm-tree stump so that they can come to no further existence in the future. To the extent, your reverence, that freedoms of mind are immeasurable, unshakable freedom of mind is shown to be their chief, for that unshakable freedom of mind is void of attachment, void of hatred, void of confusion. This, your reverence, is the method according to which these states are identical in connotation while being different in denotation."
Thus spoke the venerable Sāriputta. Delighted, the venerable Koṭṭhita the Great rejoiced in what the venerable Sāriputta had said."229
(Ayaṁ vuccat’ āvuso suññatā cetovimutti. Katamā c’ āvuso animittā cetovimutti: Idh’ āviiso hhikkhu sabbanimittānaṁ amanasikārā animittaṁ cetosamādhiṁ upasampajja viharati. Ayaṁ vuccat’ āvuso animittā cetovimutti. Ayaṁ kho āvuso pariyāyo yaṁ pariyāyaṁ āgamma ime dhammā nānaṭṭhā c’ eva nānābyañjanā ca. Katamo c’ āvuso pariyāyo yaṁ pariyāyaṁ āgamma ime dhammā ekaṭṭhā, byañjanam – eva nanam: E,ago kho avuso pamanakarano, doso pamāṇakaraṇo, moho pamāṇakaraṇo; te khīṇāsavassa bhikkhuno pahīnā ucchinnamūlā tālāvatthukatā anabhāvakatā āyatiṁ anuppādadhammā. Yāvatā kho āvuao appamāṇā cetovimuttiyo akuppā tāsaṁ cetovimutti aggam - akkhāyati, sā kho panakuppā cetovimutti suñña rāgena suññā dosena suññā mohena. Rāgo kho āvuso kiñcano,’ doso kiñcano. Moho kiñcano, te khīṇāsavassa bhikkhuno pahīnā ucchinnamūlā tālāvatthukatā anabhāvakatā āyatiṁ anuppādadhammā. Yāvatā kho āvuso ākiñcaññā cetovrmuttiyo akuppā tāsaṁ cetovimutti aggam - akkhāyati, sā kho panakuppā cetovimutti suññā rāgena suññā dosena suññā mohena. Rāgo kho āvuso nimittakaraṇo, doso nimittakaraṇo, moho nimittakaraṇo. te khīṇāsavassa bhikkhuno pahīnā ucchinnamūlā tālāvatthukatā anabhāvakatā āyatiṁ anuppādadhammā. Yāvatā kho āvuso animittā cetovimuttiyo akuppā tāsaṁ cetovimutti aggam akkhāyati, sā kho panakuppā cetovimutti suññā rāgena suññā dosena suññā mohena. Ayaṁ kho āvuso pariyāyo yaṁ pariyāyaṁ āgamma ime dhammā ekaṭṭhā, byañjanam eva nānan ti.)230
In accordance with this usage, the word Suññatā is then employed to express the fact that there is no permanent, adjacent entity underlying the phenomena of the world of experience:
"Suññam idam attena va attaniyena vā ti".231
The specific philosophic sense of the term Suñña has its beginnings here. At first the term was used in its literal adjectival sense of ‘devoid’ (of substance or anything substantial) when used with ‘atta’ or ‘attaniya’. Later the term came to be used without the other two words, namely, atta and attaniya, to convey the meaning of non-substantiality. As a result of this absolute usage suñña, which otherwise is an ordinary word, now emerges as a technical term having a philosophic import and connotation.
In brief, the first meaning of emptiness – ‘non substantiality’ in the non-philosophy which is very concrete, easy and without abstract or general, then gradually the Buddha starts to express the emptiness in the philosophical signification.
Suññatā as the Reality
As we know, Buddhism is the way to live and liberation and Buddhists come to it by knowledge, intellectual or wisdom except belief or superstition. To advance wisdom, the Buddha has shown the four fundamental characteristics of individual existence established as anicca (Skt. Anitya,無 常), or impermanence, dukkha (Skt. Duhkha, 苦) or suffering, anatta (Skt. anātman, 無 我) or no-selfness, i.e., non-substantiality and Suññatā (Skt. Śūnyatā, 空) or emptiness. The four marks are philosophically relevant to guide us to insight the reality except the themes for moral speculation or conclusion that life is the root of suffering, radical transience, impermanence, we must not desire and phenomena around us is empty. Such a thought not only harms all of us on the way to enlightenment, but also misconstrues Buddha’s teaching purpose.
We must often reflect on the reality of ourselves and phenomena round us and look at it by our insight to attach no any bonds. The basic principle of Buddha is to be free by wisdom through the method of contemplation and cultivation.
In Pāli Nikāyas, Majjhima Nikāya devoted two suttas for specific consideration of the way of contemplation of Suññatā: Cūlla Suññata Sutta and Mahā Suññata Sutta.
In the Cūla-Suññatā Sutta, the Buddha defined the meaning of emptiness on two characters i.e. emptiness on the dwelt place and attaining of the stages of jhānas. In other word, the reflection on Suññatā from the simple, concrete material, to deep, sublime essence. First of all the Buddha explained emptiness as under:
"As this palace of Migāra’s mother is empty of elephants, cows, horses and mares, empty of gold and silver, empty of assemblages of men ad women, and there is only this that is not emptiness, that is to say the solitude grounded on the Order of monks".232
(Seyyathāpi ayaṁ. Migāramātu pāsādo suñño hatthigavāssavaḷavena, suñño jātarūparajatena, suñño itthipurisasannipātena; atthi c’ev’ idaṁ asuññataṁ yadidaṁ bhikkhusaṁghaṁ paṭicca ekattaṁ.)233
Thus, a monk reflects the perception of village as emptiness and attending to the perception of human beings as existence. Here, Buddha clarifies that the emptiness on the dwelt place has the meaning that when a Bhikkhu enters a village which has nothing, no elephant, cow, horse, mare, gold and silver... then he should comprehend them as emptiness. In the contrast, in the palace of Migāra’s mother has something, the lecture-hall, the Order of Monks... then he should awaken exactly as its existence. This means there presents the perception of human beings except the perception of village.
The next meaning is without the perception of human beings and village except attending to solitude grounded on the perception of forest as under:
"The disturbances there might be resulting from the perception of village do not exist here, the disturbances there might be resulting from the perception of human beings do not exist here. There is only this degree of disturbance, that is to say solitude grounded on the perception of forest".234
(Ye assu darathā gāmasaññaṁ paṭicca, te ‘dha na santi; ye assu darathā manussasaññaṁ paṭicca, te ‘dha na santi; atthi c’ evāyaṁ darathamattā yadidaṁ araññasaññaṁ paṭicca ekattan ti.)235
Likewise, he has done with the perception of the earth.
The second point of Suññatā in Cūlla Suññata Sutta relates to the stage of jhānas. There are five stages of jhānas which a monk should attain to enliven the emptiness and enjoy Nibbāna as illustrated under:
"The disturbances there might be resulting from the perception of forest do not exist here, the disturbances there might be resulting from the perception of earth do not exist here. There is only this degree of disturbance, that is to say solitude grounded on (the perception of) the plane of infinite ākāsa".236
(Ye assu darathā araññasaññaṁ paṭicca te ‘dha na santi; ye assu darathā paṭhavīsaññaṁ paṭicca te ‘dha na santi; atthi c’evāyaṁ darahamattā yadidaṁ ākāsānañcāyatanaṁ paṭicca ekattan ti.)237
Like that, he contemplates (the perception of) the plane of infinite consciousness, the plane of no-thing, the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, the concentration of mind.
And in Mahā Suññatā Sutta, the Buddha taugh a monk who has desired to enter on an inward (concept of) Mahā Suññatā, must be:
"Aloof from pleasure of the senses, aloof from unskilled states of mind, entering on it abides in the first meditation...the second...the third...the fourth meditation. Even so, Ānanda, does a monk steady, calm, make one-point and concentrate his mind precisely on what is inward".238
(vivice’ eva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṁ savicāraṁ vivekajaṁ pītisukham paṭhamajjhānaṁ upasampajja viharati; vitakkavicārānaṁ vūpasamā ajjhattaṁ sampasādanaṁ cetaso ekodibhāvaṁ avitakkaṁ avicāraṁ samādhijaṁ pītisukhaṁ dutiyajjhanaṁ — tatiyajjhānaṁ — catutthajjhānaṁ upasampajja viharati. Evaṁ kho, Ānanda, bhikkhu ajjhattam eva cittaṁ saṇṭhapeti sannisādeti ekodikaroti samādahati. So ajjhattaṁ suññataṁ manasikaroti; tassa ajjhattaṁ suññataṁ manasikaroto ajjhattaṁ suññatāya cittaṁ na patkkhandati nappasīdati na santiṭṭhati na vimuccati. Evaṁ santam etaṁ, Ānanda, bhikkhu evaṁ pajānāti: Ajjlnittaṁ suññataṁ kho me manasikaroto ajjhattaṁ suññatāya cittaṁ na pakkhandati nappasīdati na santiṭṭhati na vimuccatīti. Itiha tattha sampajāno hoti. So bahiddhā suññataṁ manasikaroti; so ajjhattabahiddhā suññataṁ manasikaroti; so āṇañjaṁ manasikaroti; tassa āṇañjaṁ manasikaroto āṇañje cittaṁ na pakkhandati nappasīdati na santiṭṭhati na vimuccatīti. Evaṁ santam etaṁ, Ānanda, bhikkhu evam pajānāti: Āṇañjaṁ kho me manasikaroto āṇanje cittaṁ na pakkhandati nappasīdati na sautiṭṭhati na vimuccatīti. Itiha tattha sampajāno hoti. Ten’, Ānanda, bhikkhunā tasmiṁ yeva purimasmiṁ samādhinimitte ajjhattam eva cittaṁ saṇṭhapetābbaṁ sannisādetabbaṁ ekodikātabbaṁ samādahātabbaṁ. So ajjhattaṁ suññataṁ manasikaroti; tassa ajjhattaṁ suññataṁ manaaikaroto ajjhattaṁ suññatāya cittaṁ pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati vimuccati. Evaṁ santam etaṁ, Ānanda, bhikkhu evam pajānāti: Ajjhattaṁ suññataṁ kho me manasikaroto ajjhattam suññatāya cittaṁ pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati vimuccatīti. Itiha tattha sampajāno hoti. So bahiddhā suññataṁ manasikaroti; bo ajjhattabahiddhā suññataṁ manasikaroti; so āṇañjaṁ manasikaroti; tassa āṇañjaṁ manasikaroto āṇañje cittaṁ pakkhandati pasīdatī santiṭṭhati vimuccati. Evaṁ santam etaṁ, Ānanda, bhikkhu evaṁ pajānāti: Āṇañjaṁ kho me manasikaroto āṇañje cittaṁ pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati vimuccatīti. Itiha tattha sampajāno hoti.)239
Then from attending to an inward (concept of) emptiness, he proceeds to attend an external (concept of) emptiness, and to imperturbability. And when he attains this level he knows it very well:
"This being so, Ānanda, the monk comprehends thus: ‘while I was attending to imperturbability my mind was satisfied with, pleased with, set on and freed in imperturbability’. So he is clearly conscious in regard to it."240
(Evaṁ maṁ sayantaṁ nābhijjhādomanassā pāpakā akusalā dhammā anvāssavissantīti; —itiha tattha sampajāno hoti.)241
or in the Kindred Sayings about the Unrevealed is expressed the same idea that:
"‘Now what think you, Anurādha! Is body permanent or impermanent?
‘What is impermanet, is that weal or woe?’
‘Now what is impermanent, what is woe, what is woe, what is of a nature to change, - is it proper to regard that thus: ‘This is mine. This am I. This is my self?’
‘Surely not, Lord’
‘Is feeling permanet or impermanent?’
Is perception ...are the activities...is consciousness permanent or impermanent’
‘Now what is impermanent...is it proper to regard that thus: ‘This is mine. This am I. This is my self?’
‘Surely not, Lord’
‘Therefore, Anurādha, whatsover body, be it past, future, or present, inward or outward, subtle or gross, low or high, far or near, every body should be regarded, as it really is, by perfect insight, thus: ‘This is not mine. This am not I. This is not my self.’ Whatsoever feelings...whatsoever perception... whatsoever activities... whatsoever consciousness, be it past, future or present, inward or outward... should be so regarded, as it really is, by right insight".242
(Taṁ kim maññasi Anurādha rūpaṁ niccaṁ vā aniccaṁ vā aniccaṁ vā ti. Aniccam bhante, Yam panāniccaṁ dukkhaṁ vā taṁ sukkhaṁ vā ti Dukkham bhante. Yam panāniccaṁ dukkhaṁ vipariṇāmadhammam kallaṁ nu tam samanupassituṁ Etam mama eso ham asmi eso me attā ti .No hetani bhante. Vedanā niccā vā aniccā vā ti, Saññā, Saṇkhārā, Viññāṇaṁ niccam vā aniccaṁ vā ti Aniccām bhante Yam panāniccaṁ dukkhaṁ vā taṁ sukhaṁ vā ti. Dukkham bhante. Yam panāniccam dukkhaṁ viparināmadhammaṁ kallaṁ nu taṁ samanupassituṁ Etam mama eso ham asmi eso me attā ti No hetam bhante. Tasmā ti ha Anurādha yaṁ kiñci rūpam atitānāgata paccuppannam ajjhattam va bahiddha va olarikam va sukhumam va h’nam va panitam va yam dure eantike va sabbaṁ rūpaṁ Netam mama neso ham asmi na meso attā ti evam etaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññaya daṭṭhabba. Yā kāci vedanā atītānāgatapaccuppannā pe. Yā kāci saññā Ye keci saṇkhārā Yaṁ kiñci viññāṇaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannam ajjhattaṁ vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikaṁ vā sukhumaṁ vā hīnaṁ vā paṇītaṁ vā, yaṁ dūre santike vā sabbaṁ viññāṇaṁ Netam mama neso ham asmi na me so attā, ti evam etaṁ yathābbūtam sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ)243
From these points, we can see Suññatā(空) does not mean that all phenomena or all stages of jhānas (禪 定) are emptiness, nothing, but whatever has appeared or attained, clearly exists. And in the contrast, whatever disappears, does not achieve we must understand it is empty as it is. Here, ‘the negation’ or ‘the affimation’ are of something specific. From this, the Buddha guides us reality. Therefore, Suññatā is also considered as reality.
Suññatā as Anattā (無 我)
Suññatā also is understood as anattā(無 我 , no-self). First of all, we keep in mind that in scriptures of Nikāyas, the Buddha always expounds the doctrine of no-self (anattā) the scheme of emptiness (Suññatā, 空). Because the term of Suññatā is very abstract and difficult to grasp. But when we study more and more in the meaning of Suññatā, we recognize that Suññatā also bears the idea of anattā.
In the Cūlla Suññatā and Mahā Suññatā Suttanta, the Buddha once told Ānanda that he often dwelt in the liberation of the void, Suññatā-vihāra when requested by Ānanda, he explained liberation of the void meant liberation through insight that discerns voidness of self and the Buddha addressed Venerable Ānanda:
"Certainly, Ānanda, you heard this properly, leant it properly, attended to it properly and understood it properly. Formerly I, Ānanda, as well as now, through abiding in (the concept of) emptiness, abide in the fulness thereof. As this palace of Migāra’s mother is empty of elephants, cows, horses and mares, empty of gold and silver, empty of assemblages of men and women, and there is only this that is not emptiness, that is to say the solitude grounded on the Order of monks; even so, Ānanda, a monk, not attending to the perception of village, not attending to the perception of human beings, attends to solitude grounded on the perception of forest. His mind is satisfied with, pleased with, set on and freed in the perception of forest. He comprehends thus: ‘The disturbances there might be resulting from the perception of village do not exist here; the disturbances there might be resulting from the perception of human beings do not exist here. There is only this degree of disturbance, that is to say solitude grounded on the perception of forest.’ He comprehends, ‘This perceiving is empty of the perception of village.’ He comprehends, ‘This perceiving is empty of the perception of human beings. And there is only this that is not emptiness, that is to say solitude grounded on the perception of forest.’ He regards that which is not there as empty of it. But in regard to what remains there he comprehends,’ That being, this is.’ Thus, Ānanda, this comes to be for him a true, not a mistaken, utterly punned realisation of (the concept of) emptiness."244
(Taggha te etaṁ, Ānanda, sussutaṁ suggahītaṁ sumanasikataṁ sūpadhāritaṁ. Pubbe cāhaṁ, Ānanda, etarahi ca suññatāvihārena bahulaṁ viharāmi. Seyyathāpi ayaṁ Migāramātu pāsādo suñño hatthigavāssavaḷavena, suñño jātarūparajatena, suñño itthipurisasannipātena; atthi c’ ev’ idaṁ asuññataṁ yadidaṁ bhikkhusaṁghaṁ paṭicca ekattaṁ; evam eva kho, Ānanda, bhikkhu amanasikaritvā gāmasaññaṁ amanasikaritvā manussasaññaṁ araññasaññaṁ paṭicca manasikaroti ekattaṁ. Tassa araññasaññāya cittaṁ pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati vimuccati. So evaṁ pajānāti: Ye assu darathā gamasaññaṁ paṭicca, te ‘dha na santi; ye assu darathā manussasaññaṁ paṭicca, te ‘dha na santi; atthi c’ evāyaṁ darathamattā yadidaṁ araññasaññaṁ paṭicca ekattan ti. So: Suññam idaṁ saññāgataṁn gāmasaññāyāti pajānāti; Suññam idaṁ saññāgataṁ manussasaññāyāti pajānāti. Atthi c’ ev’ idaṁ asuññataṁ yadidaṁ araññasaññaṁ paṭicca ekattan ti. Iti yaṁ hi kho tattha na hoti, tena taṁn suññaṁ samanupassati; yaṁ pana tattha avasiṭṭhaṁ hoti, Taṁ santaṁ idam atthīti pajānāti. Evam pi ‘ssa esā, Ānanda, yathābhuccā avipallatthā parisuddhā suññatāvakkan ti bhavati).245
When colloquially or non-philosophically used, Suñña applies most often to a change of situation or a change of perception, e.g., a palace of Migāra’s mother has the Order of monks and at the next moment void of it; or there are now monastery, monks and nuns to be seen in the window, while after a change of the viewer’s position, only the sky is seen through the empty window. These are instances of void and emptying which are mind change in reference to the perceptual contents; they have nothing to do with the principle of Suññatā as an experience of the fundamental truth in the absolute canonical sense.
Nevertheless, intellectual grasping of perceptual changes, or, in other words, understanding the changes of consciousness which are based merely on emptying the contents of perception, can also be employed didactically in instructions for meditation, as is actually done by the Buddha in his discourse, the Cūla-Suññatā Sutta.
Unlike the science of psychology, Buddhist methods analyze the changes of mind, of its subjective side, and develop the skill of changing the mind at will. For this training and analysis, there is a necessary precondition to be fulfilled: the discovery of hitherto unnoticed inner phenomena by means of bare attention. This discovery works through mindful noticing which discerns the sense experience, the feeling, the state of consciousness, and the contents of consciousness as these come and go without any interventions.
Scientific theories elicit their truth from the conspicuous phenomena, making thus the extremes, criteria for the outcomes; the Buddhist practice promotes the middle way aiming at equanimity and peace. However, there are some extreme experiences encountered by long term meditators which may be very spectacular, intense, and unusual. Some very advanced meditators experience supreme bliss, free from any emotional changes and void of conceptualizations and images. Such states of mind are sometimes connected with an intense experience of clear light. In the original tradition of practical insight meditation, these extreme experiences are called ‘imperfections of insight’ (vipassanā-upakkilesā).
The Buddha’s discourse is addressed to listeners who are familiar with certain features of his teaching, in particular with the doctrine of anattā. Thus, for the sake of better understanding, we also have to grasp, at least roughly, the principle of anattā and some other technical terms in the Pāli Nikāyas (or Theravāda Canon). As a doctrinal term, Suññatā refers exclusively to the Anattā doctrine.
I n meditation practice, Suññatā and Anattā are inseparable: "Contemplation of not-self and contemplation of voidness are one in meaning and only the letter is different." states Buddhaghosa.246
In enlightened experience of reality, anattā(無 我) is the wise knowledge (vijjā, 明) that there is no self; vijjā is wisdom which is void of ignorance (avijjā, 無 明) splitting reality into I and not-I, mine and not-mine. Unenlightened persons identify various parts of reality with the self, cling to them, and consequently, suffer due to the frustration of such delusional identifications. The enlightened view of reality, which is characterized by anattā, pierces all things which may be conventionally (Sammuti, Skt. Saṁvṛti-satya, 俗 諦) conceived as identities and sees them ultimately (Paramāttha, Skt.Paramārtha-satya, 真 諦) as an interplay of conditions, as an interaction of different aspects, as a change of context, as a dynamic evolution of arising and ceasing — all this as originating in profound interdependence and void of any persisting core. The enlightened view of reality is void (suñña) of any identity clingings triggered by conventional concepts. There are no longer delusional percepts of stable identities; whatever exists is clearly seen as void of self (suññam attena) and as dependently arisen paticcasamuppannam (Pratītyasamutpāda, 緣 起 , 因 緣 生 起).
Anattā (無 我) means that there is no self, no core, no unchangeable identity to be found in anything. Such a self (attā) is a pure construct which has a justification within the system of language. However, such a construct is misleading, for as soon as it is taken for real, it produces false thoughts and wrong beliefs which are divorced from reality and sustained only by concepts. Buddhist meditation principally uses three approaches as means for overcoming the delusion of self: 247
1. Mindful analysis (satipatthāna,四 念 處) of components of seemingly compact things and events, the most important;
2. Clear view or insight (vipassanā,明 察 慧) that whatever exists arises dependent on impermanent conditions and has to dissolve and pass away;
3. Direct experience of one’s powerlessness to master (avasavattana,空 被 支 浿) the passing phenomena.
The insightful realization of Suññatā(空) and Anattā (無 我) is not only a remedy for the frustration of wrong belief, it is also a prophylaxis and emancipation from any suffering which would arise due to possible self-identification in the future. The delusion of self is apt to arise in any person who is exposed to difficult life situations, unless the enlightened wisdom of anattā has been cultivated and firmly established.
The emotional identification with whatever we perceive as supporting essentials (upādhi,貪 生)248 of our life is not necessarily at a conscious level so as to allow an explicit formulation of the self-view (attānuditthi, 我 見) as a rational belief. This self-delusion causes us to identify with our body, our habits, our titles, our bank account, our preferences, etc. in a pre-rational experience of the conceit ‘I am’ (asmi-māna: 我 慢 , māna is a product of perception which tendentiously conceives: maññati).
For ignorant beings enslaved by the delusion of self, the struggle to maintain a selfidentity is only all too real. Those wrongs believing in identities cannot perceive reality as it is; they can react only to the concepts, which purport to represent the identities of things, and of the self. They are victims of ignorance (avijjā,無 明) as they cannot see reality as it is. This has pathological consequences on several psychological and social levels, which grow from wrong views and prejudices.
The experience of Anattā(無 我) and Suññatā (空) within the context of emancipatory mind training does not exclude the use of concepts as designations for the ultimate realities (Paramāttha-dhammā, Skt.Paramārtha-satya 真 諦) seen during that very experience. Nevertheless, any concept carried by a verbal or a visual symbol is nothing more than a sign (nimitta, 相) which represents a mind-object. Signs as such are not ultimate realities; while the ultimate realities are designated by a lakkhana 249 (characteristic) and not by a nimitta. Sign can be an object of samatha meditation (觀), whereas vipassanā (明 察 慧) uses the ultimate realities as its objects and is therefore characterized as animitta.
As a part of the mind-training, one learns to structure the meditative experience in terms of discerning the ultimate realities of sensory bases(āyatana, 處) such as visual object and the visual sense organ, sound and the acoustic sense-base, odour and the olfactory sense, taste and the gustatory sense, tactile object and the bodily sense of touch, and the two bases of ideation which are represented by the mind organ and the mind object (percept, idea, etc.). All these bases are directly, introspectively observable. Their existence is evident to any person who has normal sensory equipment. Therefore no epistemological question regarding the inter-subjective validity of ultimate realities such as the sensory bases would be really meaningful for any normal person. However, some training is needed to sustain concentration upon any one of the āyatanas — we had a first-hand experience to support this statement as we experimented with the figure and background within the field of ‘visual object’. Then it was even more difficult for us to concentrate for some time upon its subjective counterpart, the āyatana ‘visual sense’. Only a mind well-trained in satipatthāna meditation (四 念 處) can sustain the attention upon any of these twelve sense bases so as to experience directly that they are impermanent and void of any self.
The meditative analysis of phenomena in Buddhism is counterbalanced by methods of synthesis which reveal the relations between things and their general characteristics (lakkhana) such as impermanence, conditionality, voidness, etc. Moreover, this synthetic approach unifies the multitude of phenomena and opens up the coherence of the world to a holistic view.
The world can be transcended only by one who experiences its unity and wholeness (manasikaroti ekattam,同 作 意) as the Cūla Suññtā Sutta shows. It should be stressed here that all doctrinal concepts of the Pā1i Canon — thus also the synthetic ones — are experientially anchored in the ultimate realities; this means they always refer to some specific experiential ground (yathābhūta, 如 實). In contrast to Western science, Buddhist thought employs no hypothetical variables, no speculative constructs and no a priori assumptions. For Buddhism, the wholeness of the world is neither a product of theoretical thinking, nor a belief deduced from some dogma. Such experiential anchorage holds true for the voidness of the world as well, for the Buddha says:
"Void is the world! Void is the world! ...Because it is void of a self. Ānanda, or of what belongs to a self, therefore is it said ‘Void is the world!"250
(Suñño loko suñño loko ti...Yasmā ca kho Ānanda suññam attena vā attaniyena vā tasmā Suñño loko ti vuccati).251
The same text of Saṁyutta Nikāya in the third volume expresses this idea again:
"Body, brethren, is impermanent. What is impermanent that is suffering. What is suffering, that is void of the self. What is void of the self, that is not mine, I am not it, it is not my self. That is how it is to be regarded by perfect insight of what it really is. Feeling is impermanent...likewise perception...the activities...
Consciousness is impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering, that is void of the self. What is void of the self, that is not mine, I am not it, it is not my self. That is how it is to be regarded by perfect insight of what it really is.
Thus seeing (the well-taught Ariyan disciple is repelled and realized)... ‘for life in these conditions there is no hereafter’ ."252
(Rūpam bhikkhave aniccaṁ, yad aniccam taṁ dukkhaṁ yaṁ dukkhaṁ tadanattā, yad anattā taṁ netam mama neso ham asmi na meso attā ti. Evam etaṁ yathabhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ. Vedanā, aniccā yad aniccaṁ taṁ dukkhaṁ yam dukkhaṁ tad anattā Yad anattā taṁ netam mama neso ham asmi na meso attātii Evam etaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ Saññā aniccā, Saṇkhārā aniccā Viññāṇam aniccam yad aniccaṁ taṁ dukkhaṁ, yaṁ dukkhaṁ tad anattā, Yad anattā tam netam mama nesoham asmi na me so attā ti. Evam etaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ. Evam passaṁ, la, nāparam itthattāyāti pajānātīti).253
Similar statements are recorded at several places in the Saṁyutta Nikāya and the Khuddaka Nikāya, followed by elaborations of analysis in regard to various sets of ultimate realities designated by such concepts as dhātu(界 , elements of experience), khandhā (Skt. Skandhas, 蘊 : groups of materiality, perception, feeling, formation, and consciousness), āyatana (處) and so on.
In the Salāyatana Saṁyutta, the Buddha specifies this voidness for each of the outer and inner six sense-bases(āyatana, 處) as well as for their contact (phassa, 觸) and whatever pleasant (受 樂), unpleasant (受 苦), or neutral experiencing (受 不 樂 不 苦) (vedanā, 受) which arises dependent upon these conditions.
"Eye is void of self and anything belonging to self, form is void..., visual consciousness is void..., mind is void..., mind-states are void..., consciousness is void..., contact is void..., whatsoever pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral experiencing which arises dependent upon them is void of self and everything belonging to self. That is why, Ānanda, is is said: "Void is the world".254
(Cakkhum suññam attena vā attaniyena vā, rūpā suñña... cakkhuviññanam suññam cakkhu-samphasso suñño yam pidam cakkhusamphassa-paccayā uppajjati vedayitam sukham vā dukkham vā adukkhamasukham va tam pi suññam attena va attaniyena va. Yasmā ca kho Ānanda suññam attena vā attaniyena vā tasmā suñño loko ti vuccatī tī.)255
This is obviously the Buddha’s key instruction for highest insight (mahā vipassanā) without previous advanced concentration (samatha) instructions. The Salāyatana Saṁyutta begins with detailed vipassanā instructions for noticing the impermanence(anicca, 無 常), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha, 苦), and non-self (anattā, 無 我) of all phenomena. These instructions are systematically applied to various sets of ultimate realities and elaborated so as to lead the meditator to the highest goal. As the name of this Saṁyutta suggests, the mindfulness directed to the sense bases plays the central role. This instruction for mindfulness disclosing the emptiness (Suññatā, 空) and Dependent Origination (Pratītyasamutpāda, 緣 起 , 因 緣 生 起) when directed to the sense-bases is also the culmination of the Buddha’s instruction given in the Cūla Suññatā Sutta.
There are specific techniques of insight meditation (vipassanā) for the scrutiny of the phenomena labelled as āyatana(處), khandha (蘊), dhātu (界), etc. which are the ultimate realities (paramatthā dhammā, 真 諦) directly perceptible to the mind void of concepts and steadied through samatha (concentrative meditation, 觀). The meditative analysis of the apparently solid identities is an experiential scrutiny which resolves the compact (ghana-vinibbhoga) into its elements, in order to make the absence of any self clearly visible.
To realize this, the meditator has to go through changes of perception such as experientially discerning the ultimate realities and their accessories (nāma-rūpa-pariccheda,心 法 分 別); getting their conditional structure (paccaya-pariggaha) into view; then comprehending them as suffering in order to get free from desire (appanihita, 無 願) for them; getting tuned to the stream of everchanging reality (anicca, 無 常) which destroys their only apparent stability supported by signs and opens the experience for the signless (animitta, 無 相).
The analytical approach of vipassanā insight meditation resolves thus the seemingly compact identities and exposes them as void of self. Wrong views are absent, the mind is empty. And this very emptiness makes possible the full experience of reality as it is. And the mind has to be well balanced in equipoise developed through methods of samatha. Then the purified and non-distracted mind encompasses the dynamic wholeness of the reality and becomes filled with intense joy (pīti,喜). Only a joyful, pacified, and concentrated mind can reach complete liberation and enlightenment. The path towards emancipation leads through three different ‘gateways to liberation’ (vimokkha-mukhā):
1.The realization of the desireless (appanihita, 無 貪)
2. The realization of the signiess (animitta, 無 相)
3. The third gate to liberation is the realization of voidness (Suññatā, 空).256
And with the same ideas, in Majjhima Sutta occurs:
"That emancipation of the heart is devoid of attachment, devoid of animosity and devoid of ignorance".
(Sa kho panakuppa cetovimutti sufifid ragena sufifid doserta sufifid mohena).257
In accordance with this usage the word Suñña is then employed to express the fact that there is no permanent, subjacent entity underlying the phenomena of the world of sense-experience by the following passage:
"Your reverence, whatever is immeasurable freedom of mind and whatever is the freedom of mind that is naught and whatever is freedom of mind that is void and whatever is freedom of mind that is signless—there is a method according to which these states are different in connotation as well as being different in denotation; and, your reverence, there is a method according to which these states are identical in connotation while being different in denotation. And what, your reverence, is the method according to which these states are different in connotation as well as being different in denotation? As to this, your reverence, a monk abides having suffused the first quarter with a mind of friendliness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; just so above, below, across; he dwells having suffused the whole world everywhere, in every way with a mind of friendliness, that is far-reaching, wide-spread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence. He dwells having suffused the first quarter with a mind of compassion . . . with a mind of sympathetic joy. . . with a mind of equanimity, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; just so above, below, across; he dwells having suffused the whole world, everywhere, in every way with a mind of equanimity that is far-reaching, wide-spread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence. This, your reverence, is called immeasurable freedom of mind. And what, your reverence, is the freedom of mind that is naught?
As to this, your reverence, a monk passing quite beyond the plane of infinite consciousness, thinking, There is not anything,’ enters on I and abides in the plane of no-thing. This, your reverence, is called the freedom of mind that is naught.
And what, your reverence, is the freedom of mind that is void. As to this, your reverence, a monk forest-gone or gone to the root of a tree or gone to an empty place, reflects thus: ‘This is void of self or of what pertains to self. This, your reverence, is called the freedom of mind that is void.)258
(Yā cāyaṁ āvuso appamāṇā cetovimutti yā ca ākiñcaññā cetovimutti yā ca suññatā cetovimutti yā ca animittā cetovimutti, ime dhammā nānaṭṭhā c’ eva nānābyañjanñ ca udāhu ekaṭṭhā, byañjanam eva nānan ti. — Yā cāyaṁ āvuso appamāṇā cetovimutti yā ca ākiñcaññā cetovimutti yā ca suññatā cetovimutti yā ca animittā cetovimutti, atthi kho āvuso pariyāyo yaṁ pariyāyaṁ āgamma ime dhammā nānaṭṭhā c’ eva nānābyañjanā ca, atthi ca kho āvuso pariyāyo yaṁ pariyāyaṁ āgamma ime dhammā ekaṭṭhā, byañjanam eva nānaṁ. Katamo c’ āvuso pariyāyo yaṁ pariyāyaṁ āgamma ime dhammā nānaṭṭhā c’ eva nānābyañjanā ca: Idh’ āvuso bhikkbu mettāsahagatena cetasā ekaṁ disaṁ pharitvā viharati, tathā dutiyaṁ tathā tatiyaṁ tathā catutthiṁ, iti uddham - adho tiriyaṁ sabbadhi sabbattatāya sabbāvantaṁ lokaṁ mettāsahagatena cetasā vipulena mahaggatena appamāṇena averena abyābajjhena pharitvā viharati. Karuṇāsahagatena cetasā — pi—muditāsahagatena cetasā — upekhāsahagatena cetasā ekaṁ disaṁ pharitvā viharati, tathā dutiyaṁ tathā tatiyaṁ tathā catutthiṁ, iti uddham - adho tiriyaṁ sabbadhi sabbattatāya sabbāvantaṁ lokam upekhāsahagatena cetasā vipulena mabaggatena appamāṇena averena abyābajjhena pharitvā viharati. Ayaṁ vuccat’ āvuso appamāṇā cetovimutti. Katamā c’ āvuso ākiñcaññā cetovimutti: Idh’ āvuso bhikkhu sabbaso viññāṇañcāyatanaṁ samatikkamma na tthi kiñciti ākiñcaññāyatanaṁ upasampajja viharati. Ayaṁ vuccat’ āvuso ākiñcaññā cetovimutti. Katamā c’ āvuso suññatā cetovimutti: Idh’ āvuso hhikkhu araññagato vā rukkhamūlagato vā suññāgāragato vā iti paṭisañcikkhati: suññam idaṁ attena vā attaniyena vā ti.)259
There is a saying which taught in the Dhammapada concludes that whoever comprehends with the insight the phenomena of the world of sense-experience as no-self, that is to say he is practising and walking the purified way of the Buddhas as under:
"Soul-less is everything that is when this with wisdom one
(sabbe dhammā anattā ti yadā paññāya passati
From that we can see that in the psychology, whoever experences the ideal of the no-self is the great and brave hero, but no-self is the nature of all phenomena even man admit it or not. No-self(無 我) means without any permanent nature, without absolute subject, without permanent soul or creator. Everything exists or unexists by co-dependance. Our bodies combined from five aggregations form existence in the Dependent-Origination. Thus, the existence of living beings is no-self. The way of destroying suffering is the way to realize the idea of no-self. No-self is the nature of the reality for extinguishment of suffering to attain Nibbāna (涅 槃).
As far as the three characteristics of existence, we can find Suñña(空) defined as anattā (無 我) which is always combined with two other marks such as the transient (anicca, 無 常) and suffering (dukkha, 苦). In other word, anicca (無 常), dukkha (苦), Anattā (無 我), and Suñña (空) are four ways in which the early Buddhists looked at Dhammas. Four marks are the nature of all phenomena of the world.
In the Pāli canon, the Buddha tells us that:
"All formations (of dharma-elements which constitute the individual stream of existence) are transient (anicca); all such formations are subject to suffering (dukkha); all things are without a self-substance (anattā) . . .that which is transient is subject to suffering; and of that which is transient and subject to suffering and change one can rightly say: This am I; this is my Ego."261
Thus, the three fundamental characteristics of individual existence according to Buddhism are established as anicca (Skt. Anitya,無 常) or impermanence, dukkha (Skt. dukkha, 苦) or suffering, and anatta (Skt. anātman, 無 我) or no-selfness, i.e., non-substantiality. The three marks are philosophically relevant in that they already point to the very root of suffering, namely, to the fact of radical transience and impermanence. Impermanence is expressed by the two marks which constitute the bipolar axis of the wheel of suffering. Anicca and anattā are these two ‘polar’ marks. Anicca represents the transiency and impermanence of all ‘objective’ manifestations of being in the realm of relative existence, including all the corporeal reality which constitutes the embodiment and support (asraya) of all.
There are numerous instances of the use of Suñña(空) in this special sense in the Pāli Nikāyas:
"Void is the world! Void is the world!" is the saying, lord.
Pry, lord, how far does this saying go?"
(Suñño loko suñño loko ti bhante vuccati. Kittāvata nu kho
bhante suñño loko ti vuccati?
In accordance with this usage, the word Suññatā is then employed to express the fact that there is no permanent, adjacent entity underlying the phenomena of the world of experience:
"Suññam idam attena va attaniyena vā ti".264
Anattā(無 我), however, represents the ‘subjective’ side of impermanence as this mark points to the insubstantiality of what appears to be an absolute and permanent Ego: thus, it signifies the total absence of a commonly postulated ontological basis. In point of fact anicca (無 常 , impermanence) and anatta (無 我 , non-substantiality) convert into one another in that the same impermanence afflicts both the flux of subjective consciousness which appears as the Ego and the external objects of our perceptions, feelings and volitive addictions. And by the same token, the same insubstantiality affects both the apparent, permanent Ego that seems to underly our conscious states as well as all the objects of the external appearing world that become the source for desire and action. The wheel of ‘Suffering’ (dukkha, 苦) turns around this bipolar axis of world-impermanence (anicca, 無 常) and Ego-insubstantiality (anattā, 無 我).
And not only four characteristics of anicca(無 常), dukkha (苦), anattā (無 我) and suñña (空), the Pāli Canon knows of more ways of looking at the world than does any other Mahāyāna text or group of texts. At numerous places in the Nikāyās mention is made of as many as eleven ways of looking at the nature of phenomena.
"It should be properly considered that the grasping of the five aggregates is of impermance, sufferings, illness, boil, affliction, emptiness, and non-self".
(Pancupadānakkhandhā aniccato dukkhato, rogato, gandato, sallato, aghato, ābādhato, parato, palokato, suññato, anattato yonosomansikā-tabbā).265
This shows very clearly that Ānicca, Dukkha, Anatta, and Suññā are four of eleven ways in which the early Buddhists looked at Dhammas and Suññā is found in its philosophical signification of Non-Substantiality.
Overall, four main characteristics of the world such as anicca(無 常), dukkha (苦), anattā (無 我) and suñña (空) taught by the Lord Buddha points out the truth of human being’s existence as well as phenomenal world. He himself knew it, then practiced it and realized as the best way to lead human being entring the best peaceful states that is the deep aspiration for men.
Suññatā as Paṭiccasamuppāda (緣 起 , 因 緣 生 起) or Middle Way (中 道)
Dependent Origination (Paṭiccasamuppāda, 緣 起 , 因 緣 生 起) is considered as the basic doctrine in both Northern and Southern Buddhism. The truth of Paṭiccasamuppāda at which the Buddha got enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and from it, he became the Awakened one.
This doctrine of universal causation and inter-dependence (Paṭiccasamuppāda) is embodied and formulated in the numerical list of the twelve nidānas(因 , bases, grounds, causes), which has been devised to explain how the law of causality operates by the Book of Kindred Sayings as under:
"Conditioned by Ignorance (avidyā) activities (saṁskāras) come to pass; conditioned by activities Consciousness (vijñāna); conditioned by consciousness Name-and-shape (nāma-rūpa); conditioned by Name-and-shape Sense (sad-ayatana); conditioned by Sense Contact (sparsa); conditioned by Contact Feeling (vedanā); conditioned by Feeling Craving (tṛṣṇā); conditioned by Grasping (clinging, upādāna); conditioned by Grasping Becoming (bhava); conditioned by Birth old age-and-death (jāti), grief, lamentation, suffering, sorrow, despair come to pass. Such is the uprising of this entire mass of ill. This brethren, is called (causal) happening".266
(Avijjāpaccayā bhikkhave saṇkhārā, saṇkhārāpaccayā viññanaṁ, viññaṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṁ, nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṁ, saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, vedanāpaccayā taṇhā, taṇhapaccayā upādānaṁ, upādānnpaccayā bhavo, bhavapaccayā jāti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ soka-parideva-dukkbadoiuanassupāyasā sambhavanti. Evam etassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti. Ayaṁ vuccati bbikkhave samuppādo.) 267
In the fomulation of twelve nidānas, the ignorance is put in the first position which means the Buddha desires to emphasise the importance of the wisdom and encourage us cultivating it to attain the enlightenment. The ignorance which is the dark, does not see the truth of Dharma, and clings to self. In the fomulation of twelve nidānas. If we hope to end the existence of suffering, then we only destroy one part of it, then naturally all the round of twelve nidānas will be extinguished.
In the Pāli canon, the root-idea of the twelve nidānas is summed up in short formulation by the Buddha as under:
"This being, that becomes; from the arising of this, that arises; this not becoming, that does not become; from the ceasing of this, that ceases."268
(Iti imasmiṁ sati idaṁ hoti imassuppādā idam uppajjatill imasmiṁ asati idaṁ na hoti imassa nirodhā idaṁ nirujjhati.)269
It means twelve nidānas(因) is the cause for the arising of human beings and the world, but it also is the destruction of living beings and the phenomena which is expounded specificy by the Buddha as follows:
"I will teach you, brethren, the arising and the destruction of the world. And what is that?
Owing to eye and objects arises eye-consciousness. The coming together of the three is contact. Dependent on contact is feeling. Dependent on feeling is craving. Dependent on craving is grasping. Dependent on grasping is coming to be. Dependent on coming to be is rebirth. Dependent on rebirth, decay and death, sorrow and grief, woe, lamentation and despair come into being. This is the arising of the world.
Owing to ear and sounds...nose and scents...tongue and savours...body and tangibles...owing to mind and mind-states arises mind-consciousness. The coming together of the three is contact. Dependent on contact is feeling... This is the arising of the world.
And what, brethren, is the going to destruction of the world?
Owing to eye and objects...dependent on feeling is craving. But by the utter passionless cessation of craving is the ceasing of grasping...Thus is the ceasing of this whole mass of ill.
This, brethren, is the going to destruction of the world".270
(Lokassa bhikkhave samudayañca atthagamañ ca desissāmi, taṁ suṇātha, Katamo ca bhikkhave lokassa samudayo. Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṁ, tiṇṇam saṇgati phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, vedanāpaccayā taṇhā, taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṁ, upādānapaccayā bhavo, bhavapaccayā jāti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti ayam lokassa samudayo. Sotañ ca paṭicca. Ghānañ ca paṭicca. Jivhañ ca paṭicca|. Kāyañ ca paṭicca. Manañ ca paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññāṇaṁ, tiṇṇaṁ saṇgatiphasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, vedanāpaccayā taṇhā, tanhāpaccayā upādānaṁ upādānapaccayā bhavo, bhavapaccayā jāti jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti, ayaṁ kho bhikkhave lokaesa samudayo. Katamo ca bhikkhave lokassa atthagamo.)271
Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññānaṁ tiṇṇaṁ saṇgatiphasso|| phassapaccayā vedanā vedanāpaccayā ṭaṇhā tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodhā upādānanirodho pe.
Evam etassa kevalasaa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti. Ayaṁ kho bhikkhave lokassa atthagamotill).
Thus, it proves firmly that ‘all things arise or cease by a reason’ or ‘that being, this is’272 in which no any seft is true or is created by God. If one realizes it, he will get emancipation. That was the reason when Venerable Ānanda had praised the Paṭiccasamuppāda, and the Lord Buddha said that:
"Deep is this doctrine of events as arising from causes, and it looks deep too. It is through not understanding this doctrine, through not penetrating it, that this generation has become a tangled skein, a matted ball of thread, like munja-grass and rushes, unable to overpass the doom of Waste, the Woeful Way, the Downfall, the Constant Round (of transmigration)".273
(Gambhīro cayaṁ Ānanda paticca-samuppādo gainbhīrāvabhāso ca. Etassa Ānanda dhammassa ananubodhā appaṭivedhā evam ayaṁ pajā tantākulaka-jātā gulā-guṇṭhika-jātā muñja-babbaja-bhūtā apāyaṁ duggatiṁ vinipātaṁ saṁsāraṁ nativattati).274
As far as the relation between the concepts of Suññatā(空) and Paticcasamuppāda (因 緣 生 起) is concerned, we find in the Cūla-Niddesa of the Khuddaka Nikāya, how the visual object and the sense-base of the eye meet and eye-consciousness arises is explained. Sound and the sense-base of the ear, etc., are also analyzed. Thus attention is guided to the dependent arising of all phenomena. Similarly, dependent on the sensory bases (āyatana, 處), sensory contact (phassa, 觸) arises; dependent on contact feeling (vedanā, 受) arises; and so on.
These observations are qualified by the statement: "Empty is the eye-consciousness, etc." in regard to all phenomena up to the highest meditation experiences. Dependent Origination (Paṭiccasamuppāda) becomes visible and Suññatā is experienced in regard to all these phenomena:
"...They are void of a self, void of permanency, they are coreless, without a core of permanency, core of happiness, or core of self."
That Suññatā (空) is the truth of the universe is the fundamental conclusion yielded by the theory of Paṭiccasamuppāda. The insight into Suññatā is the insight into non-substantiality: ‘Suññatānupassanā ti anattānupassanā va’.275
This comes about as a logical development of the application of the idea of Suññatā(空) that we have already considered. Each of the twelve Paccayas or Paccaya-dhammas that constitute the formula of the Paṭiccasamuppāda is, by virtue of being a paccaya, devoid of any independent existence. Hence each of them is of the nature of Suññatā. If all the terms that go to make up the formula are devoid of substantiality then the formula itself is of the nature of Suññatā. The formula is but the statement of the nature of the Paṭiccasamuppāda. This nature then is identical with the nature of the Paṭiccasamuppāda; this nature then is identical with the nature of Suññatā itself. Buddhaghosa (佛 音) represents the formula of the Paṭiccasamuppāda as a circle, inasmuch as the twelve terms comprehend, according to his interpretation, all the stages of the cycle of births and death. Hence the whole of the wheel of becoming (bhavaccakka), which illustrates the Paṭiccasamuppāda becomes itself Suññatā:
(Yasmā panettha avijjā udayabbavadhammakatti dhuvabhavena, sankiliṭṭhattā saṇkilesikattā ca ubhabhāvena, udayctbbavapīlitattā sukhabhāvena, paccayāttavuttittā vasavattanabhūtena attabhāvena ca suñña: tathā samkhārādīni pi angāni, tasmā dvādasavidhaSuññatā suññam etaṁ bhavacakkanti vedilabbam).276
This passage then is eloquent proof that the identification of Śūnyatā(空) and Pratītvasamutpāda (因 緣 生 起) is not a development unique in the Mādhyamika (中 論) but this conception that has always been implicit in Buddhism, that is, before Buddhaghosa (佛 音) expressed it in so many words.
It aids in disabusing one’s mind of the belief in substance: "tāya atthi attā ti abhinivesassa pahanaṁ hoti..."277 The highest intuition (adhipaññā vipassanā) is possible only after establishing the Suññatā of things.278 This precisely is the purpose of the understanding of causality too, that is, as taught by the Buddha in the Paṭiccasamuppāda.
There are various ways in which Paṭiccasamuppāda(因 緣 生 起) and Suññatā (空) are identical. They both express the same truth. The first is the premise of which the second is the conclusion. In the ultimate analysis all the truths which express a feeler, a doer, a released (person), a goer, a sufferer... all these are comprehended by Suññatā, which is unreality and non-substantiality:
(... ettha suññato tāva paramatthena sabban’ eva saccāni vedakakāraka nibbuta gamakabhava’to suññanīti veditabbāni ...,
Dukkham eva lti na koci dukkāito kārako na kiriyāva vijjati atthi nibbuti, na nibbuto pumā, maggam atthi, gamako na vijjati...)279
To assert the truth of dukkha(苦), nibbuti (解 脫) and magga (道) is not to assert substance, permanence, stability and happiness, for these are all unreal and untrue.
(Dhuva-subha-sukhatta-suññam purimadvayam attasuññam amatapadaṁ; dhuva-sukha-attavirahito maggo iti Suññatā tesu).280
It is worthwhile to mention in this part that the Middle way is also considered as emptiness as in the record of the Buddha’s first sermon at the Deer Park, the Blessed One addressed the group of five religious mendicants:
"Mendicants, there are two extremes which should not be practiced by any person who has left society to find salvation. What are these extremes?
On the one hand there is the realm of desire and the pursuit of pleasure which is in accord with desire—it is a base pursuit, boorish, profane crude and without profit. On the other hand, there is the pursuit of self-mortification which is sheer misery, as well as crude and without profit.
Mendicants, passing through these two extremes and avoiding them both is the Middle Way, object of the Tathāgata’s perfect awakening, opening the eyes and the mind, leading to peace, to omniscience, to complete awakening, and to nirvāṇa."281
The Middle Way(中 道) is very clearly defined here as a practical approach to the religious life, a prescription for the sort of behavior that will eventually lead to release from fear and suffering. Elsewhere we find evidence of a different conception of the Middle Way, a much more abstract application of the concept to ontological categories. The Buddha is in this instance explaining the nature of ‘right view’ to a wandering ascetic named Kātyāyana:
"Kātyāyana, everyday experience relies on the duality of "it is" and "it is not." But for one who relies on the Dharma and on wisdom, and thereby directly perceives how the things of the world arise and pass away, for him, there is no "it is" and no "it is not." "Everything exists" is simply one extreme, Kātyāyana, and "nothing exists" is the other extreme. The Tathāgata relies on neither of these two extremes, Kātyāyana; he teaches the Dharma as a Middle Way".282
The concept of Middle Way(中 道) obviously proved to be a very fruitful heuristic in early Buddhist literature, a device that could seemingly be exploited as an aid toward the explanation of virtually any important point of doctrine. One of the most crucial doctrinal issues for all Buddhists is, of course, the concept of selflessness (nairātmya, 無 我), and here as elsewhere we encounter the all-pervasive influence of the Middle Way. The avoidance of reifed concepts of being and nonbeing, that is, the Middle Way. The middle way as emptiness is often presented as a provisionary name for the fact that all things are dependent upon each other. The Buddha used Paṭiccasamuppāda (緣 起 , 因 緣 生 起) to refute extreme views and to prove the emptiness of all things. Therefore, in Buddhism, the Emptiness, the Middle way and Dependent Origination have the relation together.
In short, with the contents of Paṭiccasamuppāda and the Middle way above, we are able to conclude that the doctrine of emptiness is the essential consequence of Paṭiccasamuppāda and the Middle way. In other word, when Paṭiccasamuppāda or the middle way develops to the transcendential level which will lead to the door of emptiness. ‘Emptiness’ means paṭiccasamuppāda as the Buddha expounded, "This being, that becomes, from the arising of this, that arises. This not becoming, that does not become, from the ceasing of this, that ceases".283 Therefore, ‘emptiness’ in the meaning of paṭiccasamuppāda is considered as the fundamental and vital doctrine in Buddhism. Whoever is awakened of emptiness (空), he also enlightens the nature of Paṭiccasamuppāda (緣 起 , 因 緣 生 起) or the Middle way (中 道).
Suññatā as Nibbāna (涅 槃)
The feature in the Cūlla Suññatā Sutta affirms the statement of the Buddha:
"I, Ānanda, through abiding in (the concept of) emptiness, am now abiding in the fulness thereof".284
(Suññatāvihārenāhaṁ, Ānanda, etarahi bahulaṁ viharāmīti.)285
And it is said that once when Sāriputta approached the Buddha after an afternoon of meditation, the latter commented on his calm expression and his pure and clear complexion. Sāriputta gave this explanation:
"Sir, I am now completely absorbed in the state of emptiness."
(Suññatāvihārena kho ahaṁ, bhante, etarahi bahulam viharāmiti).286
Thus, what the emptiness is, from that the Buddha abides in the fulness of transcendence and Sāriputta was completely absorbed in it? It is Nibbanā(涅 槃), empty of all canker of sense-pleasure, becoming and ignorance, is not it? This got the approval of the Buddha who called emptiness the state of great men (mahāpuri-savihāra). Now, what is meant by ‘state of emptiness’?
In the Aṇguttara Nikāya, Sāriputta makes exactly the same comment to Anuruddha about his calm expression, etc. But he gets a different explanation:
"My mind is well established in the four states of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna)."287
This parallel indicates at least that exercises in mindfulness could give the same visible result as emptiness. In the Saṁyutta Nikāya there is question asked: what is the path that goes to the uncompounded i.e. Nibbāna. The answer is:
"The concentration that is empty, signless and undirected."
(Suññato samādhi animitio samādhi appaṇihito samādhi).288
Hence, the general trend of these meditation levels is to reduce the amount of conscious contents, until the mind is completely motionless and empty: one of the levels is called ākiñcaññāyatana, (無 所 有 處 定)289 ‘the dimension of nothingness’. And in Majjhima Nikāya III, the Buddha says:
"But, Ānanda, Tathāgata has completely understood this state, namely how to attain and stay in the inward emptiness, by leaving all signs unnoticed."
(Ayaṁ kho pan’, Ānanda, vihāro Tathāgatena abhisambuddho, yadidaṁ sabbani-mittānaṁ amanasikārā ajjhultam suññataṁ npasampajja viharituṁ.)
It is evident from these examples, that the word emptiness was used with reference to a psychological state attainable through meditation. That is to say, the perfect purified state - nibbāna (涅 槃).
As we mentioned above, the Cūlla-Suññatā Sutta belonging to Majjhima Nikāya described all the levels of concentration as levels of progressing emptiness.
At first, a monk starts to meditate in a forest, and then he sees only the forest, no village and no people:
"He regards that which is not there as empty of it."290
(Iti yaṁ hi kho tattha na hoti, tena taṁ suññaṁ samanupassati).291
Then he passes through the eight first levels and attains.
"The concentration of mind that is signless".292
And the text continues:
"He comprehends thus, ‘This concentration of mind that is signless is effeted and thought out But whatever is effected and thought out, that is impermanent, it is liable to stopping’. When he knows this thus, sees this thus, his mind is freed from the canker of becoming and his mind is freed from the canker of ignorance."294
(So evaṁ pajānāti: Ayam pi kho animitto cetosamādhi abhisankhato abhisañcetayito. Yaṁ kho pana kiñci abhisankhataṁ abhisañce-tayitaṁ, tad aniccaṁ nirodhadhamman ti pajanāti. Tassa evaṁ jānato evaṁ passato kāmāsavā pi cittaṁ vimuccati, bhavāsavā pi cittaṁ vimccati, avijjāsavā pi cittaṁ vimuccati.)295
Then comes the Arahanta-formula, so it is clear that this is a description of the attainment of Nibbāna. This is finally expressed in terms of emptiness:
"He comprehends: ‘This perceiving is empty of the canker of sense-pleasures’. He comprehends: ‘This perceiving is empty of the canker of becoming’. He comprehends: ‘This perceiving is empty of the canker of ignorance. And there is only this that is not emptiness, that is to say the six sensory fields that, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body ifself’."296
(So: suññam idaṁ saññāgataṁ kāmāsavenāti pajānāti; suññam idam saññāgataṁ bhavāsavenāti pajānāti; suññam idaṁ saññāgataṁ avijjāsavenāti pajānāti. Atthi c’ev ‘idaṁ asuññataṁ, yadidaṁ imam eva kāyam paṭicca saḷāyatanikaṁ jīvitapaccayā ti).297
Very often we get the impression that Suññatā as a conscious state is a very important aspect of Nibbāna itself. When the Arahanta Uttama calls herself ‘winner of the emptiness and signless’,(suññatassānimittassa lābhinī, 空 與 無 相 定)298 i.e., she seems to attain Nibbāna. One of the synonym: for Nibbāna in the long list, is ‘without attributes’ (anidasscananaṁ, 無 屬 性).299 Or it is said: ‘all conscious processes have nibbāna as their end’ (nibbānapariyosānā sabbe dhanamā, 有 情 的 究 竟 涅 槃),300 or Nibbāna is called ‘the signless state’ (animittā dhātu, 法 無 相).301
The most probable explanation of this is that the highest level of meditation ‘the ceasing of ideation and feeling’(saññāvedayitanirodha, 滅 受 想 定), was used so frequently as a steppingstone to the realization of Nibbāna, that same of its characteristics were transferred to nibbāna itself, especially the experience of undifferentiated wholeness that is called Suññatā (空). The attainment of Nibbāna is namely also called ‘the cessation of consciousness’ (viññāṇassa nirodho, 識 的 滅 盡).302And Nibbāna (涅 槃) had to be exactly that, since rebirth is effected through the medium of viññāṇa (識) and Nibbāna is the cessation of rebirth, the reality of no-self. In the stream of conscious processes, of which viññāṇa consists, is stopped and emptied, usually by means of the meditational exercises to insight (paññā, 智 慧) exist.
Hence, we should keep in mind that Suññatā is emphasized by the Buddha not as ideal, a method, but here it is enlightenment as the truth, the reality of no-self which also means Nibbānā, because Nibbāna is the final bliss, state of no-self. This is essential thing in Buddhism. Although the Buddha expounded many methods of Dhammas(法) but the aim is merely to guide people to return oneself to the nature of no-self.
Buddhism had always maintained that the state of Nibbāna cannot be expressed in words by a lot of negation, say:
"There is the not-bom, the not-become, the not-created, the not-compounded. ...If there were not this not-born etc... there could be no escape from this world of compounded things."
"There is the realm where there is neither earth nor water... neither the boundless realm of space nor boundless consciousness... This I call neither coming nor going nor standing, neither origination nor annihilation. Without support, without beginning, without foundation is this. The same is the end of suffering."303
It is even spoken of in positive terms as:
"A reality beyond all suffering and change, as unfading, still, undecaying, taintless, as peace and blissful. It is an island, the shelter, the refuge and the goal."
(asankhatam ca vo bhikkhave desissāmi asaṁkhatagāmiṇca maggani. . . anāsavanca. . . saccam. . . param. . . nipuṇam. . . ajajjaram. . . dhuvam... sāntam . . . amatam . . . panītam . . . sivam . . . khemam . . . abbhūtam... antikadhamma . . . nibbānam . . . dīpam tāṇam . . . saraṇam . . .)304
Buddha after his enlightenment is a representative example of Nibbāna. Nirupadhiśeṣa Nibbāna (無 餘 涅 槃) is the state of final release where even the skandhas (蘊), which constitute empirical existence, have totally ceased.
Consider the importance of this below passage that Suññatā refers to the transcendental truth of the universe - Nibbāna.
"Herein, monks, in whatsoever, company the monks listen not to the discourses uttered by the Tathagāta, discourses deep and deep in meaning, transcendental, dealing with the Void, when they are recited: where they lend not a ready ear to them, apply not to them a mind bent on understanding, consider not that those teachings are something to be learned by heart and mastered: but when those discourses made by poets, trickled out with fair-sounding phrases, discourses external to Dhamma uttered by their followers".305
(Idha bhikkhave yassam parisayaṁ bhikkhu ye te suttantā Tathāgatahbāsitā gambhirā gambhiratthā lokuttarā Suññatāpaṭisaṁyuttā tesu bhaññamanesu na sussusanti na sotam odahanti na añña cittam upaṭṭhāpenti na ca te dhamme uggahetabbam pariyāpuni tabbam maññanti, ye pana ie suttantā kavikatā kaveyyā cittakkharā cittavyañjanā bāhirakā sāvakabhāsitā tesu bhaññamdnesu sussusanti sotam odahanti añña cittam upaṭṭhāpenti to ca dhamme uggahetabban pariyāpunitabbam maññanti, to tam dhammam pariyāpunitvā na c’eva ānnamannan paṭipucchanti na paṭivitaranti idam katham imassa kvattho ti.)306
In verses 92 and 93 of Dhammapada, Suññatā (空) is identified with Vimokkha (解 脫), which is another term for Nibbāna (涅 槃):
"They for whom there is no accumulation who reflect well over their food, who have Deliverance, which is Void and Signless as their object, their course cannot be traced, like that of birds in air."
(yesaṁ sannicayo n’ atthi ye pariññatabhojanā
"He whose corruptions are destroyed, he who is not attached to food, he who has Deliverance, which is Void and Signless, as his object, his path cannot be traced, like that of birds in air."
(yassāsavā parikkhīṇā āhāre ca anissito
The term of the Nibbāna which was described in the literature of Pāli Nikāyas, clearly refers to a unity eternally existing beyond the three worlds (kāma dhātu:欲 界 , rūpa dhātu: 色 界 and arūpa dhātu: 無 色 界). It is infinite, inexpressible, unborn, undecaying and empty. It is homogeneous (ekarasa) and knows no individuality. In it, all discriminations or dichotomy cease.
Every being is a conglomeration of elements, which can be classified under five heads: rūpa(色), vedana (受), sanna (想), sankhara (行) and viññāṇa (識) hence one being is not essentially different from another, an ordinary man is not different from a perfected saint. But if the nature and proportion of each of the five constituents existing in an individual be taken into account, then one being is different from another, an ordinary man is different from a perfected saint. The combination of elements is the outcome of Karma (業 , past deeds) and is happening every moment (kṣaṇika, 剎 那), implying that the disintegration of elements always precedes it. The elements in a combined state pass as an individual, and from time immemorial he labours under the misconception of a self (我) and of things relating to a self (我 所). His vision being distorted or obscured by ignorance of the truth he cannot perceive the momentary combination and disintegration of elements. On the other hand, he is subject to an inclination for them. A perfect man with his vision cleared by the Buddhist practices and culture realises the real state of things viz. that an individual consists of the five elements and does not possess a permanent and unchanging entity called soul.
In short, with the above characteristics of emptiness our knowledge opened out: the incomparably highest concept of emptiness which the Buddha utterance to in the Pāli Nikāyas is the reality of no-self, or utterly purified Nibbāna and we should attain it, because not only at present, but also in the past or future, those Bodhisattas all practised it as the Buddha confirmed in the Cūla Suññatā Sutta that:
"And those recluses or brahmans, Ānanda, who in the distant past, entering on the utterly purified and incomparably highest (concept of) emptiness, abided therein – all these, entering on precisely this utterly purified and incomparably highest (concept of) emptiness, abided therein. And those recluses or brahmans, Ānanda who in the distant future, entering on the utterly purified and incomparably highest (concept of) emptiness, abided therein – all these, entering on precisely this utterly purified and incomparably highest (concept of) emptiness, abided therein. And those recluses or brahmans, Ānanda, who at present, entering on the utterly purified and incomparably highest (concept of) emptiness, are abiding in it – all these, entering on precisely this utterly purified and incomparably highest (concept of) emptiness, abided therein. Wherefore, Ānanda, thinking: ‘Entering on the utterly purified and incomparably highest (concept of) emptiness, I will abide therein’ – this is how you must train yourself, Ānanda."309
(Ye hi keci, Ānanda, atītamaddhānaṁ samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā parisuddhaṁ paramānuttaraṁ suññataṁ upasampajja vihariṁsu, sabbe te imaṁ yeva parisuddhaṁ paramānuttaraṁ suññataṁ upasampajja vihariṁsu. Ye hi keci, Ānanda, anāgataiuaddhānaṁ samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā parisuddhaṁ paramānuttaraṁ suññataṁ upasampajja viharissanti, sahbe te imaṁ yeva parisuddhaṁ paramānuttaraṁ suññataṁ upasampajja viharissanti. Ye hi keci, Ānanda, etarahi samṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā parisuddhaṁ paramānuttaraṁ suññataṁ upasampajja viharanti, sabbe te imaṁ yeva parisuddhaṁ paramānuttaraṁ suññataṁ upasampajja viharanti. Tasmātiha, Ānanda, Parisuddhaṁ paramānuttaraṁ suññataṁ upasampajja viharissuñmīti, — evaṁ hi vo, Ānanda, sikkhitabban ti).310
Or in the Book of the Gradual Sayings also is found the same idea that:
"And-what, monks, is the company trained in bluster, not inquiry?
Herein, monks, in whatsoever, company the monks listen not to the discourses uttered by the Tathagāta, discourses deep and deep in meaning, transcendental, dealing with the Void, when they are recited: where they lend not a ready ear to them, apply not to them a mind bent on understanding, consider not that those teachings are something to be learned by heart and mastered: but when those discourses made by poets, trickled out with fair-sounding phrases, discourses external to Dhamma uttered by their followers,—when such are recited they listen thereto, lend a ready ear to them, apply to them a mind bent on understanding and consider that those teachings are something to be learnt by heart and mastered, and when they have mastered that teaching they do not open up a discussion thus: "what is this? What is the meaning of this? "– when they neither open up the unrevealed nor explain the unexplained, nor dispel doubts on divers doubtful points of doctrine, - such a company, monks, is called "trained in bluster, not in inquiry".311
(Idha bhikkhave yassaṁ parisāyaṁ bhikkhū ye te suttantā Tathāgatabhāsitā gambhīrā gambhīratthā lokuttarā suññatāpatisaññuttā tesu bhaññamānesu nn sussūsanti na sotaṁ odahanti ṇa aññācittaṁ upaṭṭhāpenti na ca te dhanune uggahetabbaṁ pariyāpuṇitabbaṁ maññanti, ye pana te suttantā kavikatā kāveyyā cittakkharā cittavyañjanā bāhirakā sāvakabhāsitā tesu bhaññamānesu sussūsanti sotaṁ odahanti aññācittaṁ upaṭṭhāpenti te ca dhamme uggahetabbaṁ pariyāpuṇitabbaṁ maññanti, te taṁn dhammaṁ pariyāpuṇitvā na c’eva aññamaññaṁ paṭipucchanti na paṭivivaranti idaṁ kathaṁ imassa kvattho ti. Te avivaṭañ c’eva na vivaranti anuttāni-katañ ca na uttānī-karonti anekavihitesu ca kankhāṭhānīyesu dhammesu kakhaṁ na paṭivinodenti. Ayaṁ vuccati bhikkhave ukkācita-vinītā parisā no paṭipucchā-vinītā).312
In the above passages the Buddha refers to the fact that the Suttās he has expounded deal with the deep, profound and transcendental truth of Suññatā and says that those monks who do not grasp the meaning contained in them, fail to unravel the hidden truth.
"In which abiding are you, Sariputta, now abiding in the fulness thereof?
"Abiding in (the concept of) emptiness do I, revered sir, now abide in the fulness thereof."
"It is good, Sariputta, it is good. You, Sariputta, are now indeed abiding in fulness in the abiding of great men. For this is the abiding of great men, Sariputta, that is to say (the concept of) emptiness. Wherefore, Sariputta, if a monk should desire: ‘ May I now abide in fulness in the abiding in (the concept of) emptiness,’ that monk should consider thus, Sariputta: ‘ On the road by which I entered the village for almsfood or in the part in which I walked for almsfood or on the road by which I left the village after (walking for) almsfood—did I have there in my mind desire or attachment or aversion or confusion or sensory reaction in regard to material shapes cognisable by the eye?"313
(Katamena tvam Sāriputta, vihārena etarahi bahulam viharasī ti. Suññatā-vihārena kho aham bhante, etarahi bahulam viharāmi. Sādhu sādhu, Sāriputta. Mahāpurisa-vihārena kira tvam Sāriputta, etarahi bahulam viharasi. Mahāpurisa-vihāro hesa Sāriputta, yadidam Suññatā. Tasinātiha, Sāriputta, bhikkhu sace ākaṇkheyya: Suññatāvihārena etarahi bahulaṁ vihareyyan ti, tena, Sāriputta, bhikkhunā iti paṭisañcikkhitabbaṁ: Yena cahaṁ maggena gāmaṁ piṇḍāya pāvisiṁ, yasmiñ ca padese piṇḍāya acariṁ, yena ca maggena gāinato piṇḍāya paṭikkamiṁ, ritthi nu kho me tattha cakkhuviññeyyesu rūpesu chando vā rāgo vā doso va moho vā paṭighaṁ vā pi cetaso ti?)314
218Edward Conze, Buddhism: Its Essence and Development, Delhi, 1994, p. 130.
219Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, A.P. Cowie (Ed.), Oxford University Press, Great Britain, 4th rpt. 1991, pp. 394-5.
220MLS, III, No. 121 Cūlasunnata Sutta, 147.
221M, III, 104.
222BGS, IV, 108.
223S, IV, 173.
224DB, I, No.1 Brāhmajala Sutta, 30-1.
225D, I, 17.
226Sutta-nipatā, Verse 1119.
227MLS, II, No. 71 Tevijjavacchagotta Sutta, 162.
228M, I, No. 46 Mahāvedalla Sutta, 483.
229MLS, I, 359-360.
230M, I, 298.
231Culla Niddesa, II, Patisambhidāmagga I, Para, 45, 91; 11 Para, 36, 48, 177.
232MLS, III, No. 121 Culasunnata Sutta, 147.
233M, II, 104.
235M, III, 104.
237M, III, 105-6.
239M, III, 111-2.
241M, III, 113.
242BKS, IV, Chaper x, ii, Anurada, 271.
243S, IV, 382-3.
244MLS, III, No. 121 Culasunnata Sutta, 147-8.
245M, III, 104-5.
246Vi, II, p. 628.
247Journal of Buddhist Studies, IV: 10.
248Upādhi: a condition, peculiar, limited, special; quoted in DCBT, 330a.
249Lakṣaṇa (相) also, nimitta. A ‘distinctive mark, sign’ ‘indication, characteristic’, ‘designation’. Eteranal appearance; the appearance of things; form; a phenomenon in the sense of appearace, mutual; to regard; quoted in DCBT, 309a.
250BKS, IV, Chapter 1, 85. ii, 29.
251S, IV, 54.
252BKS, III, Chapter 1, i. Nakulapita, iv, 21.
253S, III, 22.
254BKS, IV, Chapter 1, 85 ii, 29.
255S, IV, 54.
256Patisambhidāmagga, II, 48.
257M, I, 298.
258MLS, I, No. 43 Mahavedalla Sutta, 358.
259M, I, 297.
260Dha, verse 279, pp.145-6.
261S, 21-2; quoted in Early Buddhist Philosophy, Alfonso Verdu, Delhi: Motilal, 1995, p. 11.
262S, IV, Chapter 1, 85 ii, 28.
263S, IV, 54.
264Culla Niddesa, II, Patisambhidāmagga I, Para, 45, 91; 11 Para, 36, 48, 177.
265Sn, xxv, 334.
266BKS, II, p. 2; IV, 53-4; DB, II, 52.
267S, II, 1.
268BKS, II, 23.
269S, II, 28.
270BKS, IV, Chapter 1 (d), 107. iv, The World, 53-4.
271S, IV, 87.
272MLS, III, 151-2.
273DB, II, No. 15 Mahanidana Sutta, 50-1.
274D, II, 55.
275Vi, II, 695.
281Vinaya, Tr. by I.B. Horner, I, 10-17.
282Sn, III, 134. 30-135.19 and Sn, II, 17.8-30.
283BKS, II, 23.
284MLS, III, No. 121 Cūlasunnata Sutta, 147.
285M, III, 104.
286M, III, 293 ff.
287A, V, 301.
288S, IV, 360.
289Akiñcanāyatana: the contemplation of the state of nothingness, or the immaterial, in which ecstasy gives place to serenity; quoted in DCBT, 379a.
290MLS, III, No. 121 Cūlasunnata Sutta, 149.
291M, III, 105.
292MLS, III, No. 121 Cūlasunnata Sutta, 150.
293M, III, 107.
294MLS, III, No. 121 Cūlasunnata Sutta, 151.
295M, III, 107-8.
296MLS, III, No. 121 Cūlasunnata Sutta, 151.
297M, III, 108.
298Theri-gatha, ed. R. Pischel, London: PTS, 1883, p. 46.
299S, IV, p. 368 ff.
300A, V, 107.
303Udāna viii, 3 and 2 cf. also Itivuttaka, p. 37 (43).
304S, IV, p. 368 ff.
305BGS, I, Chapter 2, v, 6, 68-9.
306A, I, 72-73.
307Dha, verses 92, pp. 49-50.
309MLS, III, No. 121 Cūlasunnata Sutta, 152.
310M, III, 109.
311BGS, I, Chapter 2, v, 6, 68-9.
312A, I, 14.
313MLS, III, No. 151 Pindapataparisuddhi Sutta, 343.
314M, III, 294.
Sincere thanks to Bhikkhuni Gioi-Huong for giving the digital files (Binh Anson, 07-2009).