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Emptiness?

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  • James
    Hello All, During my sutta studies (BTW, I have been searching for the sutta where Ananda attains arahantship. I haven t read it directly, only parts. Can
    Message 1 of 14 , Dec 1, 2002
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      Hello All,

      During my sutta studies (BTW, I have been searching for the sutta
      where Ananda attains arahantship. I haven't read it directly, only
      parts. Can anyone help?) I have come across a sutta that is
      perplexing to me. Let me quote the sutta, since it is very short,
      and then address my confusion:

      Samyutta Nikaya XXXV.85
      Suñña Sutta
      Empty
      Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed
      down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the
      Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty,
      lord. In what respect is it said that the world is void?"
      "Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a
      self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty. And what is
      empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty
      of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-
      consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything
      pertaining to a self.
      "The ear is empty...
      "The nose is empty...
      "The tongue is empty...
      "The body is empty...
      "The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a
      self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty
      of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that
      the world is empty."

      First, I had stated in an earlier post that the suttas don't state
      anything like `eye-consciousness' etc, this sutta obviously does so I
      was mistaken about that assumption (I still don't know what it is…but
      then again, I don't know what any consciousness is either, not
      really ;-) But, to get to the point of this post, I don't understand
      the use of `emptiness' in this sutta. Could anatta be considered
      emptiness? The Buddha goes so far as to state that `contact' is
      empty of self. Would anyone assume otherwise? What is intellect-
      contact? What could an intellect possibly contact? Is the Buddha
      saying the world is empty and void because it is anatta? Is he
      saying that nothing really exists? Can anyone help my understanding
      of this profound sutta? Lots of questions I know. Thanks.

      Metta, James
      ps. The Buddha states this information about the world like it should
      be easily seen and understood. The Abhidhamma also does this. Am I
      missing something here? I don't easily see or understand this. Just
      as the Abhidhamma states, like it is simply common knowledge or
      something, that all dhammas are non-self, dukkha, and impermanent,
      and then takes off from there. Excuse me. For example, if I didn't
      even know what a number was, how could I then be expected to
      understand advanced Calculus?
    • rjkjp1
      ... ____________ Dear James, Yes, anatta and sunnata are the same. The world is utterly void (sunnatta) of self according to the Theravada: Void is the world
      Message 2 of 14 , Dec 1, 2002
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        --- In dhammastudygroup@y..., "James" <buddhatrue@y...> wrote:
        > Is the Buddha
        > saying the world is empty and void because it is anatta? Is he
        > saying that nothing really exists? Can anyone help my understanding
        > of this profound sutta? Lots of questions I know. Thanks.
        ____________
        Dear James,
        Yes, anatta and sunnata are the same. The world is utterly void
        (sunnatta) of self according to the Theravada:

        "Void is the world ... because it is void of a self and anything
        belonging
        to a self" (suññam attena vá attaniyena vá; S. XXXV, 85);
        See also M. 43, M. 106.
        Visuddhimagga . XXI, 55): "Eye ... mind,
        visual objects ... mind-objects, visual consciousness ... mind-
        consciousness,
        corporeality ... consciousness, etc., are void of self and anything
        belonging to a self; void of permanency and of anything lasting,
        eternal
        or immutable.. They are coreless: without a core of permanency, or
        core of happiness or core of self."
        __________________

        James: The Buddha states this information about the world like it[anatta
        and sunnata] should
        > be easily seen and understood. The Abhidhamma also does this. Am
        I missing something here? I don't easily see or understand this.

        ______________
        Could you point out the references in Abhidhamma or suttas where the
        Buddha indicated it should be easy to understand?
        As I understand it it is very difficult; because for so long the mind has
        run among concepts. Moha (ignorance) obscures the truth.

        Sammohavinodani:
        "The characteristic of no-self is
        unobvious, dark, unclear, dificult to penetrate, difficult to illustrate,
        difficult to make known.
        The characteristics of impermanence and pain are made known with or
        without the arising of the Tathagatas. The characteristic of no-self is
        not made known without the arising of the Englightened Ones;

        ......But those five aggregates are no-self because of the words "what is
        painful is no-self" (S iv 1). Why? Because there is no exercising power
        over them. The mode of insusceptibility to having power exercised over
        them is the characteristic of no-self."

        Robert

        >
        > Metta, James
        > ps.
      • James
        ... Robert, Thank you for the explanation. I believe there is more for me to explore here. I am going to post on another matter. I would appreciate your
        Message 3 of 14 , Dec 1, 2002
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          --- In dhammastudygroup@y..., "rjkjp1" <rjkjp1@y...> wrote:
          > --- In dhammastudygroup@y..., "James" <buddhatrue@y...> wrote:

          Robert,

          Thank you for the explanation. I believe there is more for me to
          explore here. I am going to post on another matter. I would
          appreciate your input if you would like. Thanks.

          Metta, James

          ps. I didn't mean that the suttas state that emptiness, void, and
          non-self are easy to understand, they just state it as if it is easy
          to understand. Much like Jon using a few words to describe a matter
          I would need to write pages about ;-) As far as the Abhidhamma, for
          example, Nina's book The Abhidhamma in Everyday Life, the first
          chapter describes that all dhammas are non-self, dukkha,
          impermanent. Doesn't explain these things, just states them. Then
          the second chapter starts to describe the classifications of rupa. I
          was thinking, at the time, and what brought me to this group, and has
          yet to be answered, "Whoa there! Put on the brakes! I cannot
          possibly understand anything after this point if I don't understand
          what you are saying. If we don't have a common frame of reference
          for the characteristics of all dhammas, it is useless to even discuss
          the matter." Could you imagine trying to solve the equation: 2x + 4=
          14 for x, when you and I are not in agreement what 2 equals or what 4
          equals?!! It would be impossible. And it is not feasible to say,
          well, work on the problem anyway, even if you don't know the meanings
          of the components, and eventually you may figure it out. Is this new
          math, dharma, or mental torture? ;-)
        • azita gill
          ... sarah, Sukin, Jaran,Num, Christine, Robert, Betty, Ell[the fast walker] such a delight to meet with all of you and have the opportunity to discuss the
          Message 4 of 14 , Dec 1, 2002
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            > hello dsg'ers and esp. Nina, lodewick, Jon,
            sarah, Sukin, Jaran,Num, Christine, Robert, Betty,
            Ell[the fast walker]
            such a delight to meet with all of you and have
            the opportunity to discuss the Dhamma with Khun Sujin.
            And to rejoice in Khun Duangdern's amazing generosity
            - Anumordana, Khun D.
            we arrived at Kang Krajan country club early
            afternoon and after a delicious lunch, a short
            recover-from-the-trip and time to breathe the
            fresh,clean air [a relief from BKK], we gathered
            together for discussion time at Khun D's house, or
            rather in the garden.
            here are some excerts from our talks over the
            next day and a bit:
            touching appears many times a day, but not yet
            experienced by satisampajanna [spelling?]. We will
            know when there is satisampajanna, it will be
            differrent to now, it will know the characteristic of
            touching as just touching, no me in there.
            we cannot escape from nama and rupa. Nama and
            rupa is all there is - citta, cetasika and rupa - all
            impermanent, too short to be object of pleasure,
            therefore Dukkha; and no 'me' only the arising and
            falling away[rapidly] of citta, cetasika and rupa.
            nothing else - no thing other than arise of citta,
            cetasika and rupa and then the falling away.
            more later.
            patience, courage and good cheer, and lots of
            sati
            Azita.
            >
            >
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          • Sarah
            Dear Azita, Betty & All, It’s a pleasant surprise to ‘re-connect’ and ‘see’ you again so soon on line with good reminders. Hopefully some of the
            Message 5 of 14 , Dec 2, 2002
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              Dear Azita, Betty & All,

              It’s a pleasant surprise to ‘re-connect’ and ‘see’ you again so soon on
              line with good reminders. Hopefully some of the others will follow the
              example......Yesterday, Jon went straight from the airport around mid-day
              into legislation drafting in the office while Chris and I have had softer
              landings and a chance for more leisurely time to catch up with DSG. She’ll
              be flying back to Brisbane tonight from Hong Kong.

              It’s always interesting to reflect on what makes most impression after a
              very memorable dhamma-packed weekend and it is often quite unpredictable .
              I hope others elaborate on what they found most useful. I know Rob K asked
              one or two people, so hopefully a few comments will be shared with us all
              <hint to Sukin and others>.

              Perhaps what hit home most for me were the reflections on attachment as
              the cause of suffering and particularly clinging to self (not necessarily
              with any wrong view most of the time). I think this was prompted by a
              comment K.Sujin made to me after the first afternoon’s discussion. So many
              of our concerns and questions relate to ‘my’ or ‘our’ particular problems,
              difficulties, fears, worries, progress (or lack of), discouragement, long
              stories, situations, objects of lobha/dosa according to accumulations,
              working out intellectual details and so on.

              Whilst being preoccupied with these issues, there is no understanding of
              paramattha dhammas at this moment. Knowing the difference at any time,
              even during dhamma discussion, of the precise characteristics of kusala
              and akusala cittas and of the various dhammas arising without concern for
              ‘oneself’ is so very essential.

              In contrast to these ‘precoccupations’, were the inspiring examples given
              by K.Sujin, our hosts and by all of kindness, selfless giving and sharing
              of dhamma help and hospitality at every opportunity.

              Just a little more glimmer of appreciation of what it means when we talk
              about attachment being the cause of dukkha.


              As we read in the Udana (ch 5, 1 ‘Dear’),The Buddha reminds us:

              “Searching all directions
              with one's awareness,
              one finds no one dearer
              than oneself.
              In the same way, others
              are fiercely dear to themselves.
              So one should not hurt others
              if one loves oneself.”
              *****
              Many thanks to everyone for making it such a special time.

              Sarah

              p.s Thanks Betty for all your tireless help with planning and
              arrangements.
              ==========================



              --- azita gill <gazita2002@...> wrote: > > hello dsg'ers
              and esp. Nina, lodewick, Jon,
              > sarah, Sukin, Jaran,Num, Christine, Robert, Betty,
              > Ell[the fast walker]
              > such a delight to meet with all of you and have
              > the opportunity to discuss the Dhamma with Khun Sujin.
              > And to rejoice in Khun Duangdern's amazing generosity
              > - Anumordana, Khun D.


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            • chase8383 <dcwcc@webtv.net>
              Hi James I m new here, was reading through the messages, and found yours on emptiness. It is, as you say, a very profound and important subject to the
              Message 6 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                Hi James

                I'm new here, was reading through the messages, and found yours on emptiness. It is, as you say, a very profound and important subject to the Buddhist. And, very hard to grasp.

                If you try to get it as concept you will have trouble I think but, if you use a practice it may come easier.

                One such practice goes like this. Take an object, like your car. Than pick a place on your car and point to it. Say the drivers side door. Is that your car? Is that the "self" of you car? Or is it just a sheet of iron? If you go through your whole car, pointing to different places and things, will you ever find a spot that is the "self" of your car? Or will you just find a series of interconnected things that togather make up what we call a car?

                That is emptiness. There really is no car there. Just an object made up of interconnections.

                You may know all this.

                Dave
              • James <buddhatrue@yahoo.com>
                ... emptiness. It is, as you say, a very profound and important subject to the Buddhist. And, very hard to grasp. ... if you use a practice it may come easier.
                Message 7 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                  --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "chase8383 <dcwcc@w...>"
                  <dcwcc@w...> wrote:
                  > Hi James
                  >
                  > I'm new here, was reading through the messages, and found yours on
                  emptiness. It is, as you say, a very profound and important subject
                  to the Buddhist. And, very hard to grasp.
                  >
                  > If you try to get it as concept you will have trouble I think but,
                  if you use a practice it may come easier.
                  >
                  > One such practice goes like this. Take an object, like your car.
                  Than pick a place on your car and point to it. Say the drivers side
                  door. Is that your car? Is that the "self" of you car? Or is it just
                  a sheet of iron? If you go through your whole car, pointing to
                  different places and things, will you ever find a spot that is
                  the "self" of your car? Or will you just find a series of
                  interconnected things that togather make up what we call a car?
                  >
                  > That is emptiness. There really is no car there. Just an object
                  made up of interconnections.
                  >
                  > You may know all this.
                  >
                  > Dave

                  Hi Dave,

                  Welcome to the group! I find your explanation very clear and
                  understandable, thank you. I do know of this explanation for anatta
                  but reminders are always helpful. As Emerson wrote, "Nature is an
                  endless combination and repetition of a very few laws. She hums the
                  old well-known air through innumerable variations." It all comes
                  back to the basics, repeated over and over again.

                  However, at this point, I am looking past this view of anatta. I am
                  looking at anatta in the ultimate sense, not the conventional
                  sense. The reality that all is anatta. That the car door, the
                  metal, everything, has no essence...is anatta. That one isn't so
                  easy to explain rationally is it? :-) Take care and I look forward
                  to more of your penetrating posts.

                  Metta, James
                • chase8383 <dcwcc@webtv.net>
                  Jaes: However, at this point, I am looking past this view of anatta. I am looking at anatta in the ultimate sense, not the conventional sense. The reality
                  Message 8 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                    Jaes: "However, at this point, I am looking past this view of anatta. I am
                    looking at anatta in the ultimate sense, not the conventional
                    sense. The reality that all is anatta. That the car door, the
                    metal, everything, has no essence...is anatta. That one isn't so
                    easy to explain rationally is it?"

                    Emptiness is the ultimate. How could it be any other way? How could the steel on the car door be anything but empty? How could you or I be anything but empty. How could the universe be anything but empty. Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. How could eye consciousness be anything but empty? How could ear consciousness be anything but empty?
                  • phamdluan2000 <phamdluan@aol.com>
                    Dear Dave, ... Emptiness is the ultimate. How could it be any other way? How could the steel on the car door be anything but empty? How could you or I be
                    Message 9 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                      Dear Dave,


                      --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "chase8383 <dcwcc@w...>"


                      Emptiness is the ultimate. How could it be any other way? How could
                      the steel on the car door be anything but empty? How could you or I
                      be anything but empty. How could the universe be anything but empty.
                      Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. How could eye consciousness
                      be anything but empty? How could ear consciousness be anything but
                      empty?




                      KKT: Yes, like you, I see
                      emptiness as the ultimate.

                      But emptiness is not nothingness.
                      The difference is very subtle.
                      Nothingness denotes annihilation.

                      BTW, I am moved by your story
                      about how you came to Buddhism.
                      Thanks for sharing.


                      Peace,


                      KKT
                    • chase8383 <dcwcc@webtv.net>
                      Dear KTT You said KKT: Yes, like you, I see emptiness as the ultimate. But emptiness is not nothingness. The difference is very subtle. Nothingness denotes
                      Message 10 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                        Dear KTT

                        You said "KKT: Yes, like you, I see
                        emptiness as the ultimate.
                        But emptiness is not nothingness.
                        The difference is very subtle.
                        Nothingness denotes annihilation."

                        Absolutely, it is not nothingness. No birth, no death. No existence, no non-existence.




                        "BTW, I am moved by your story
                        about how you came to Buddhism.
                        Thanks for sharing.
                        Peace,
                        KKT"

                        Thank you KTT

                        Peace, David
                      • James <buddhatrue@yahoo.com>
                        ... wrote: Emptiness is the ultimate. How could it be any other way? How could the steel on the car door be anything but empty? How could you or I
                        Message 11 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                          --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "chase8383 <dcwcc@w...>"
                          <dcwcc@w...> wrote:
                          Emptiness is the ultimate. How could it be any other way? How could
                          the steel on the car door be anything but empty? How could you or I
                          be anything but empty. How could the universe be anything but empty.
                          Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. How could eye consciousness
                          be anything but empty? How could ear consciousness be anything but
                          empty?

                          Dave,

                          Let me reply with a quote about the consequences of attaching to
                          semantics (word usage) in determining meaning:

                          If we call the world of "things" (of physical objects)—the first
                          world, and the world of subjective experiences (such as thought
                          processes) the second world, we may call the world of statements in
                          themselves the third world.
                          --Karl Popper

                          Metta, James
                        • chase8383 <dcwcc@webtv.net>
                          James And that has what to do with emptiness? Dave
                          Message 12 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                            James

                            And that has what to do with emptiness?

                            Dave
                          • James <buddhatrue@yahoo.com>
                            ... Hi Dave, That quote is about semantics and how some words, when used improperly, can create worlds not based on physical or mental accepted reality. They
                            Message 13 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                              --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "chase8383 <dcwcc@w...>"
                              <dcwcc@w...> wrote:
                              > James
                              >
                              > And that has what to do with emptiness?
                              >
                              > Dave

                              Hi Dave,

                              That quote is about semantics and how some words, when used
                              improperly, can create worlds not based on physical or mental
                              accepted reality. They can create worlds unto themselves; semantic
                              worlds composed of word houses, occupied by word people, walking
                              word dogs...:-).

                              I believe the word `emptiness' is meaningless and misleading when
                              related to anatta. A cup is empty, a plate is empty, your belly is
                              empty, but anatta is not `empty'. I believe that viewing anatta
                              as `emptiness' is fruitless. Emptiness presupposes a thing/an
                              object. The very nature of the word requires the existence of an
                              object that is then `empty'. Anatta, or no-essence, doesn't
                              presuppose an object. To say `this is empty' and `that is empty'
                              sounds profound, but I believe it is false view. I was trying to be
                              subtle with the quote so that you could conclude this for yourself.
                              I don't like to tell people how they should think.

                              Metta, James
                            • chase8383 <dcwcc@webtv.net>
                              Hi James You hang up up with the word empty is your hang up. It means it is empty of a self. It doesn t mean one minute is has a self, than you take it away
                              Message 14 of 14 , Dec 7, 2002
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                                Hi James

                                You hang up up with the word empty is your hang up. It means it is empty of a self. It doesn't mean one minute is has a self, than you take it away from it. It never had a self in the first place. Use what ever WORD you want. What builds your house doesn't build mine. Your Mara is not mine. "We don't share so much as a fart" Zen Master

                                Peace, David
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