mikenz66 wrote: tiltbillings wrote:
In Theravada suññatā refers only to anattā, unlike in Mahayana...
But do not forget that all dhammas are anatta.
Of course, but as I understand it Mahayana goes further than emptiness of self.
A succinct explanation of the difference from someone knowledgeable would be helpful...
Mahayana does not go further than "emptiness of atta", but rather, it understands atta\atman differently. It interprets atta more broadly as "identity" (applying to both personal object, that is, people, and impersonal objects, like chunks of rock) rather than simply narrowly as "personhood" (applying only to people, to sentient beings). So, anatta in Mahayana is a "lack of intrinsic identity of anything" (a rejection of svabhava, literally own-being
), whereas Theravadins interpret anatta as the mere non-existence of personhood, and their Abhidhamma is more or less materialistic and realist in treating mental qualities as derivatives of the four physical elements (earth, fire, air, water), which are paramatha, or "ultimate". It would be a distortion to conflate the Mahayana position with nihilism or non-realism.
So, for a Theravadin, anatta means, "I have no self\soul\personhood\status as an agent. You have no self, etc.. We have no self.. Nobody has a self, etc.. The self's existence is not exactly rejected, but no self can be found anywhere, so it cannot be said to exist." For a Mahayanist, anatta means, "I have no self, etc.," but this means, "I have no self-nature," and so, also, "Tree has no tree-nature. Rock has no rock-nature. Television has no television-nature. America has no America-nature" etc.. Everything completely lacks intrinsic identity.
One Mahayana cosmology illustrates its notion of emptiness and its distinction from non-realism by means of an analogy: Indra's net. Indra's net is described as a net of jewels which stretches out infinitely in all directions. Each jewel has no color of its own. Each jewel's bright glowing color is merely a reflection of every other
jewel in the net.
This is a description of what it means to say that the world is empty: No sentient being, but also no object at all, has any identity of its own, no independent existence. This is because of dependent-origination; all existence is causally dependent (an "independent" causal force is the definition of an agent, a self). Each object, whether it's a sentient being or not, is impermanent and is defined by an infinite set of causal relations among which a beginning or end cannot be found -- like a single jewel among a never-ending sea of jewels, which each reflects one another.