Anders Honore wrote:As for the Theravadin view, I don't think there's any inherent contradiction between the early sutras (that Theravada is based on) and the Mahayana view of emptiness.
I agree with this and a while ago, I compiled a short list of quotes on emptiness from the suttas to establish this point.
Form is like a glob of foam;
feeling, a bubble;
perception, a mirage;
fabrications, a banana tree;
consciousness, a magic trick —
this has been taught
by the Kinsman of the Sun.
However you observe them,
appropriately examine them,
they're empty, void
to whoever sees them
"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."
View the world, Mogharaja,
as empty —
to have removed any view
This way one is above & beyond death.
This is how one views the world
so as not to be seen
by Death's king.
"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of village are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of human being are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of village. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.
"But there is this (mental) dwelling discovered by the Tathagata where, not attending to any themes, he enters & remains in internal emptiness. If, while he is dwelling there by means of this dwelling, he is visited by monks, nuns, lay men, lay women, kings, royal ministers, sectarians & their disciples, then — with his mind bent on seclusion, tending toward seclusion, inclined toward seclusion, aiming at seclusion, relishing renunciation, having destroyed those qualities that are the basis for mental fermentation — he converses with them only as much is necessary for them to take their leave.
Notice the interpretation "mental" imposed on the text by the Theravadin translator.
"He attends to internal & external emptiness...
But it's not just mental, else the idea of "external emptiness" is pretty incoherent, plus obviously incorrect given the other quotes above where there isn't the explicit description that it's a strictly mental act. On the contrary, the Buddha describes reality itself as actual being empty, as emptiness being in accordance with "actuality".
So, as a very wise person and experienced meditator once said:
Element wrote:Thus form is voidness & voidness is form. If form is regarded as 'voidness', it is void. If form is regarded as 'form', merely form, it is also void. If it is void, it is free from dukkha. The efficacy of this we must understand through practise or experience. These realisations are one and the same.
And as the Heart Sutra says:
form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness.