Form and emptiness

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Rick
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Form and emptiness

Post by Rick »

"Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."

Does Mahayana/Madhyamaka say all phenomena are empty *and* have form? Or are there exceptions, non-empty or form-less phenomena?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Rick wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:35 pm "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."

Does Mahayana/Madhyamaka say all phenomena are empty *and* have form? Or are there exceptions, non-empty or form-less phenomena?
Neither.

Form is emptiness,
emptiness is form.
There isn’t any “have” involved.

Puffy clouds are like this.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook produces outward insight.
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Astus
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by Astus »

Rick wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:35 pm "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."

Does Mahayana/Madhyamaka say all phenomena are empty *and* have form? Or are there exceptions, non-empty or form-less phenomena?
Form is the first of the five aggregates. That often quoted line from the Heart Sutra is followed by the other four aggregates: "In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are empty."
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Aemilius
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by Aemilius »

Mahayana goes even further, emptiness itself is (merely) relative.
Things would be empty, if there was something non-empty or substantial, in relation to which they would be "empty". But there isn't.
Therefore emptiness too lacks reality and is nonexistent or "empty".

(Nagarjuna and other bodhisattvas and commentators, like for example Peter Della Santina)

I don't know if this explanation from Maha Prajña-Paramita Shastra helps, but it runs like this:

"Śūnyatāśūnyatā (शून्यताशून्यता) or simply Śūnyatā refers to the “emptiness of emptiness”, representing one of the sixteen or eighteen emptinesses (śūnyatā), according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XLVIII. Accordingly, “what is the emptiness of emptiness (śūnyatāśūnyatā)? This emptiness of dharmas is empty of emptiness [itself] because it is neither eternal nor transitory. Why? Because such is its essence. That is called: emptiness of emptiness (śūnyatā-śūnyatā)”.

Emptiness of emptinesses (śūnyatāśūnyatā).—By means of this fourth emptiness, the emptiness of inner dharmas (adhyātma-śūnyatā), the emptiness of outer dharmas (bahirdhā-śūnyatā) and the emptiness of both inner and outer dharmas (adhyātmabahirdhā-śunyatā) is eliminated. Since this fourth emptiness destroys the first three emptinesses, it is called the emptiness of emptinesses (śūnyatā-śūnyatā). First, one uses the three emptinesses of dharmas to destroy inner and outer dharmas, and then one uses this [fourth] emptiness to destroy the first three emptinesses. This fourth emptiness is called the emptiness of emptinesses (śūnyatāśūnyatā)."


(Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra - by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001)
Last edited by Aemilius on Mon Mar 25, 2024 10:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
stong gzugs
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by stong gzugs »

Rick wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:35 pm Or are there exceptions, non-empty or form-less phenomena?
There are exceptions. For instance, space and cessations are both phenomena which lack form (unconditioned dharmas). In the Ratnagotravibhāga, and related version of (Mahā)Madhyamaka, there are buddha qualities more numerous than the grains of sand in the Ganga River that are non-empty (not inherently (self)empty, but (other)empty of adventitious stains). There are also forms of emptiness itself (śunyatā-bimbā), rather than just forms that are empty, in tantric systems like the Kālacakra.
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by haha »

First if one is asking this question to the Buddhist, then it is fine. Even “the form is empty” is understandable. But it is asked to non-buddhist, and then one should at least include few mores words: “Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form is not other than emptiness.”

Another point, if one is asking about Madhyamaka, then one should be clear whose Madhyamaka (Nagarjuna, Bhavavieka, Chandrakirti, Kamalasila, etc.) one is talking about. As for the Nagarjuna, he said that Buddha explained such dharma (atma-anatma, origination-destruction, existence-non-existence, etc.) in term of worldly convention, not as ultimately. So, there is no dharma that is not empty.
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by Aemilius »

stong gzugs wrote: Thu Mar 28, 2024 4:49 pm
Rick wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:35 pm Or are there exceptions, non-empty or form-less phenomena?
There are exceptions. For instance, space and cessations are both phenomena which lack form (unconditioned dharmas). In the Ratnagotravibhāga, and related version of (Mahā)Madhyamaka, there are buddha qualities more numerous than the grains of sand in the Ganga River that are non-empty (not inherently (self)empty, but (other)empty of adventitious stains). There are also forms of emptiness itself (śunyatā-bimbā), rather than just forms that are empty, in tantric systems like the Kālacakra.
In the Eighteen (and/or Twenty) emptinesses, the number 5 is Great Emptiness or the Emptiness of the ten directions. The Prajña Paramita sutras teach that space or the ten directions do not have intrinsic nature.

"Sūtra (cf. Pañcaviṃśati, p. 24, l. 10–17; Śatasāhasrikā, p. 77, l. 6–80, l. 4):

– Furthermore, O Subhūti, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva who wishes to become established (sthātukāma) in:

1. the emptiness of inner dharmas (adhyātmaśūnyatā),

2. the emptiness of outer dharmas (bahirdhāśūnyatā),

3. the emptiness of inner and outer dharmas (adhyātmabahirdhāśūnyatā),

4. the emptiness of emptiness (śūnyatāśūnyatā),

5. great emptiness (mahāśūnayatā),

6. the emptiness of the absolute (paramārthaśūnyatā),

7. the emptiness of the conditioned (saṃskṛtaśūnyatā),

8. the emptiness of the unconditioned (asaṃskṛtaśūnyatā),

9. absolute emptiness (atyantaśūnyatā),

10. the emptiness of beginningless dharmas (anagraśūnyatā),

11. the emptiness of dispersed dharmas (avakāraśūnyatā),

12. the emptiness of essences (prakṛtiśūnyatā),

13. the emptiness of specific characteristics (svalakṣaṇaśūnyatā),

14. the emptiness of all dharmas (sarvadharmaśūnyatā),

15. the emptiness consisting of non-preception (anupalambhaśūnyatā),

16. the emptiness of non-existence (abhāvaśūnyatā),

17. the emptiness of existence (svabhāvaśūnyatā),

18. the emptiness of non-existence and existence (abhāvasvabhāvaśūnyatā),

this bodhisattva-mahāsattva must practice the Perfection of Wisdom."

from Maha Prajnaparamita Shastra of Nagarjuna, Chapter XLVIII - The Eighteen Emptinesses, transl. by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön, 2001. https://www.wisdomlib.org/buddhism/book ... 82378.html
Last edited by Aemilius on Fri Mar 29, 2024 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Aemilius
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by Aemilius »

stong gzugs wrote: Thu Mar 28, 2024 4:49 pm
Rick wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:35 pm Or are there exceptions, non-empty or form-less phenomena?
There are exceptions. For instance, space and cessations are both phenomena which lack form (unconditioned dharmas). In the Ratnagotravibhāga, and related version of (Mahā)Madhyamaka, there are buddha qualities more numerous than the grains of sand in the Ganga River that are non-empty (not inherently (self)empty, but (other)empty of adventitious stains). There are also forms of emptiness itself (śunyatā-bimbā), rather than just forms that are empty, in tantric systems like the Kālacakra.
Buddhism is basically a raft or a means to an end, (which is liberation or nirvana or samatha and vipassana). Thus some buddhist teachers say that emptiness is only a useful tool for certain types of people, but  others need to be taught that some things exist or even that all things exist, (this is said in the name of the Sarvastivada school). Nirvana sutra  says that (buddha-nature, buddha-element) is timeless, eternal (nitya) and pure Self (ātman).   

Chinese Master  Zhi Yi says that some  people attain samatha and vipashyana based on the teaching that things exist and other people attain samatha and vipassana based on the teaching of emptiness. (in his Great Stopping and Seeing).

Even Nagarjuna says that the teaching of emptiness can be harmful if it is wrongly understood. And furthermore, that it is definitely harmful if you keep on grasping at it. He says that it is like grasping a snake the wrong way or like casting a spell the wrong way (the latter may be an unknown example in modern times (?)) 
(chiefly in MulaMadhyamakaKarika)

 Nagarjuna recommends that beginners must be taught that all things exist (in his work Bodhisambharaka), and that they should first concentrate on practicing virtue or merit.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
stong gzugs
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by stong gzugs »

Aemilius wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 4:07 pm Buddhism is basically a raft or a means to an end, (which is liberation or nirvana or samatha and vipassana)
...
Even Nagarjuna says that the teaching of emptiness can be harmful if it is wrongly understood.
I agree with you! Many have held emptiness by the wrong end of the proverbial snake, and have the bite-marks to prove it.
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by takso »

Emptiness is form, meaning that it is the primary source of perceptible realities. Emptiness is necessary for an object to exist; without it, the object would be impossible.
~ Ignorance triumphs when wise men do nothing ~
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by Aemilius »

takso wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 6:47 am Emptiness is form, meaning that it is the primary source of perceptible realities. Emptiness is necessary for an object to exist; without it, the object would be impossible.
How is it when you are in a state free of concepts?
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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takso
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by takso »

Aemilius wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 9:05 am How is it when you are in a state free of concepts?
The relationship between emptiness, you, and concepts is akin to the Chinese philosophy where everything has two aspects, namely yin and yang. As the old saying states, “Yin creates Yang and Yang activates Yin”. To put it differently, by preparing for Yang's arrival (which involves you and concepts), Yin can demonstrate its presence (which is emptiness). Yin is akin to one playing card and Yang is similar to a deck of playing cards. With a deck of playing cards, one can play a myriad of games such as poker, solitaire, gin rummy, and so on. If only one card were available, those games would be considered impossible - it depicts the emptiness of emptiness. This scenario demonstrates that the combination of yin and yang aspects is essential for creating a dynamic and harmonious system.

In other words, the emptiness of phenomena is both the cause and consequence of the dependent nature of phenomena. It is entirely defined by its nature, namely an inherent existence that is indestructible and everlasting. Also, it's crucial to acknowledge that created objects are prone to change and cannot exist without an intrinsic basis. What we experience, observe, or interact with is a consequence of the evolution of energy or matter. This resembles Lego bricks that can be assembled and connected in different ways: to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots - anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. Therefore, any activity that results from variation cannot be inherently present, as there will be processes that change continuously.

According to Buddhism, the mind is the source of the state known as samsāra, which is a continuous stream of birth, life, death, and rebirth. It is the strongest vibration that other similar frequencies continuously resonate with because of the presence of memory elements. The memory elements are responsible for two basic functions, which are information deposits and retrievals. These are the tasks that involve preserving and recalling the facts. For instance, the appearance of ice, water, and steam can vary depending on the orientation of the H2O properties. It would not be possible to create variations of ice, water, and steam without a subtle recollection of their respective shapes.

Without memory, the process of becoming within all beings or things would be impossible, causing the absence of the law of kamma. Afterward, everything would follow the most fundamental facts, which means that there would be no labels, limits, names, activities, forms, descriptions, or anything like that. In the end, without memory and mind, the fluctuations of dependent activities would be impossible to iterate since everything or event is interdependent and co-appearing ad infinitum. This is the rationale for asserting that emptiness is the origin of all perceptible realities.
~ Ignorance triumphs when wise men do nothing ~
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Re: Form and emptiness

Post by Aemilius »

takso wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 5:02 am
Aemilius wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 9:05 am How is it when you are in a state free of concepts?
The relationship between emptiness, you, and concepts is akin to the Chinese philosophy where everything has two aspects, namely yin and yang. As the old saying states, “Yin creates Yang and Yang activates Yin”. To put it differently, by preparing for Yang's arrival (which involves you and concepts), Yin can demonstrate its presence (which is emptiness). Yin is akin to one playing card and Yang is similar to a deck of playing cards. With a deck of playing cards, one can play a myriad of games such as poker, solitaire, gin rummy, and so on. If only one card were available, those games would be considered impossible - it depicts the emptiness of emptiness. This scenario demonstrates that the combination of yin and yang aspects is essential for creating a dynamic and harmonious system.

In other words, the emptiness of phenomena is both the cause and consequence of the dependent nature of phenomena. It is entirely defined by its nature, namely an inherent existence that is indestructible and everlasting. Also, it's crucial to acknowledge that created objects are prone to change and cannot exist without an intrinsic basis. What we experience, observe, or interact with is a consequence of the evolution of energy or matter. This resembles Lego bricks that can be assembled and connected in different ways: to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots - anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. Therefore, any activity that results from variation cannot be inherently present, as there will be processes that change continuously.

According to Buddhism, the mind is the source of the state known as samsāra, which is a continuous stream of birth, life, death, and rebirth. It is the strongest vibration that other similar frequencies continuously resonate with because of the presence of memory elements. The memory elements are responsible for two basic functions, which are information deposits and retrievals. These are the tasks that involve preserving and recalling the facts. For instance, the appearance of ice, water, and steam can vary depending on the orientation of the H2O properties. It would not be possible to create variations of ice, water, and steam without a subtle recollection of their respective shapes.

Without memory, the process of becoming within all beings or things would be impossible, causing the absence of the law of kamma. Afterward, everything would follow the most fundamental facts, which means that there would be no labels, limits, names, activities, forms, descriptions, or anything like that. In the end, without memory and mind, the fluctuations of dependent activities would be impossible to iterate since everything or event is interdependent and co-appearing ad infinitum. This is the rationale for asserting that emptiness is the origin of all perceptible realities.
The word "emptiness" didn't exist in the beginning of a kalpa. Universals (samanya) arise together with the development of culture. "Emptiness" is a philosophical universal. There is also the world of particulars (svalakshana), which a system of philosophy, or just any language, describes.
"Emptiness" is not "out there" in the world of particulars. It exists in the minds of beings, who perceive the world consisting of particulars.

The terms universal (samanya) and particular (svalakshana) are used in the buddhist Apoha-doctrine developed by Dignaga, Dharmakirti and others.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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