Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

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adosa
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Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby adosa » Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:12 pm

Hi all,

Can somebody point me to any schools (or teachers within Theravada) that emphasize the contemplation of emptiness without all the usual trappings of the Mayahanist schools (i.e. Bodhisattva vows, the second and third turnings of the Dharma Wheel)? I ask because this resonates strongly with my practice as it accords with science and thus my mind is less obstructed by doubt, etc. In addition, I've had about enough focus on dukkha for the time being. So I'm looking for some guidance on this subject from a teacher who has practiced this contemplation.



Thanks,


adosa :smile:
Last edited by adosa on Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby bodom » Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:53 pm

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu though he preferred the translation 'voidness'. I highly recommend his talks contained in the book Heartwood from the Bodhi Tree.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Aloka » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:44 pm

.

Hi adosa.

You can read what the late Buddhadasa Bhikkhu had to say about emptiness in 'Heart Wood of the Bo Tree' here:

http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Emptiness_by_Buddhadasa_Bhikkhu



Ven Ajahn Sumedho (Thai Forest Tradition) mentions abiding in emptiness here:

http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documents/the_way_it_is/14sar.html


Kind wishes,

Aloka

.

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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby ground » Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:21 pm

Dwelling at Savatthi... Then Ven. Kaccayana Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, 'Right view, right view,' it is said. To what extent is there right view?"

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

Kaccayanagotta Sutta

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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Aloka » Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:36 pm

.


The previously mentioned Kaccayanagotta sutta SN 12.15 is mentioned by Nagarjuna in the Mulamadhyamakakarika.

A sutta I enjoy reading is Phena Sutta- Foam - SN 22.15

Excerpt:

"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
appropriately."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.095.than.html


There are a number of suttas which mention emptiness. However, I'm going off topic from the OP #1, sorry !


:anjali:

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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby adosa » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:59 am

Thanks all for the reads.

Much obliged.


adosa :smile:
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:31 am

Pretty much all the early Buddhist schools featured sunnata / sunyata as an important part of their teachings.

In particular, the Sarvastivadins (before they were actually known as such) referred to themselves as the "sunyavadins" when they argued against the Pudgalavadins' theory of the "pudgala". They feature sunyata as one of the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths (four each). Along with anatman, these two were the only aspects that were applicable to all four truths. (The others like anitya being not applicable to the truth of cessation for instance.) It also featured heavily in their three samadhis system. They also have a few sutras that use "sunyata" as synonymous with dependent origination, such as the "mahasunyata-paryaya" and "paramartha-sunyata-paryaya". Neither of these sutras are found in Pali. However, they played an important role for several others schools, it seems. (eg. Sautrantika, and the *Satyasiddhi.)

Whenever the Mahasamghika sutras use "sunyata", it is often part of a set like this: The four immeasurables, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity; then the three samadhis, emptiness, nothingness and the signless. (This latter form of the three samadhis may be older than the form emptiness, intentionless, signless.) There are suggestions that in fact the four immeasurables are used as the samatha basis for entrance into the three samadhis. ie. cultivate loving kindness up to deep dhyana, then turn to contemplation of not self. This pattern is similar to the sutra on Purification of Almsfood, and the Sunakkhata sutta. (From memory!)

The *Satyasiddhi Sastra also heavily features sunyata. However, it has more of a Mahasamghika turn to it. It is used not just as "empty of self", but a generic "empty of ..." So, they used it a lot as a synonym for nirodha / nirvana, the absence of (empty of) defilements, and / or absence of deluded conceptualization.

Whatever the case, I am not sure what you mean by "trappings" of Mahayana. If you like the idea, just use the idea. No need to take other parts like the bodhisattva-theory or whatever. They can work independently, so to speak.

In recent decades, scholars like Warder and Kalupahana have argued that Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamaka Karika is based on the Agamas, and not necessarily Mahayana at all. Actually, Yinshun already said this decades before that! It's entire content is consistent with readings of the Agamas, though not necessarily the Theravada interpretation. But after all, the Theravada was just one school. Other schools had their own take. In particular, Nagarjuna's association of sunyata with dependent origination and the middle way is perfectly in accord with those Sautrantika sutras mentioned above. Perhaps the Theravadins lost these texts at some point. Hard to say.

You'll just have to look beyond the usual stuff that is found in Pali sources, and possibly beyond Sanskrit sources, too.

Full disclosure: My PhD is on sunyata in the Prajnaparamita, following it's development through early and mainstream Nikayan Buddhism.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:39 am

Greetings,

Aloka wrote:The previously mentioned Kaccayanagotta sutta SN 12.15 is mentioned by Nagarjuna in the Mulamadhyamakakarika.

A sutta I enjoy reading is Phena Sutta- Foam - SN 22.15


Mighty fine suttas they are too, Aloka. To quote SN 20.7, the suttas are "discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness", so you will find a lot in the suttas that is relevant to emptiness.

In addition to those recommended, consider also...

MN 122: Maha-suññata Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Ud 1.10: Bahiya Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

... and for a guided tour of how deep they really are, see Bhikkhu Ñänananda's...

Nibbana Sermons
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... rmon_8.htm

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:57 am

adosa wrote:Can somebody point me to any schools (or teachers within Theravada) that emphasize the contemplation of emptiness without all the usually trappings of the Mayahanist schools (i.e. Bodhisattva vows, the second and third turnings of the Dharma Wheel)? I ask because this resonates strongly with my practice as it accords with science and thus my mind is less obstructed by doubt, etc. In addition, I've had about enough focus on dukkha for the time being. So I'm looking for some guidance on this subject from a teacher who has practiced this contemplation.


Most of the Theravadin meditation approaches have Impermanence, Un-satisfactoriness, and Not self as their basis. I think contemplation of these things gives one a handle into Emptiness, so one starts to experience Emptiness through experiencing and contemplating Impermanence, Un-satisfactoriness, and Not self.

I think if you sat down and decided I'm going to contemplate Emptiness you'd be creating a concept of Emptiness, which is not what you want to be doing, what you want to be doing is realising the Empty nature of your experience as you contemplate your experiences through the 6 sense doors. Emptiness dawns on you as wisdom arises, you don't need to go looking for it.

I think it's helpful to drop ideas like "Emptiness" or "what is this?" into your meditation from time to time, but not with expectation, not with creating a concept.

That's my 2c worth anyway.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Sekha » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:12 am

Goofaholix wrote:
adosa wrote:Can somebody point me to any schools (or teachers within Theravada) that emphasize the contemplation of emptiness without all the usually trappings of the Mayahanist schools (i.e. Bodhisattva vows, the second and third turnings of the Dharma Wheel)? I ask because this resonates strongly with my practice as it accords with science and thus my mind is less obstructed by doubt, etc. In addition, I've had about enough focus on dukkha for the time being. So I'm looking for some guidance on this subject from a teacher who has practiced this contemplation.


Most of the Theravadin meditation approaches have Impermanence, Un-satisfactoriness, and Not self as their basis. I think contemplation of these things gives one a handle into Emptiness, so one starts to experience Emptiness through experiencing and contemplating Impermanence, Un-satisfactoriness, and Not self.

I think if you sat down and decided I'm going to contemplate Emptiness you'd be creating a concept of Emptiness, which is not what you want to be doing, what you want to be doing is realising the Empty nature of your experience as you contemplate your experiences through the 6 sense doors. Emptiness dawns on you as wisdom arises, you don't need to go looking for it.

I think it's helpful to drop ideas like "Emptiness" or "what is this?" into your meditation from time to time, but not with expectation, not with creating a concept.

That's my 2c worth anyway.


exactly what I had in my mind, but I couldn't have written it so clearly thanks
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:20 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Full disclosure: My PhD is on sunyata in the Prajnaparamita, following it's development through early and mainstream Nikayan Buddhism.
What do you think of whatizname's little orange book on emptiness in the Agamas?
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:24 am

Greetings bhante,

Not sure if this is of any use or interest, but I read this once and it seemed interesting enough...

Proto-Maadhyamika in the Paali canon
By Luis O. Gomez
Philosophy East and West
26:2 April 1976
p. 137-165

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/gomez.htm

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Aloka » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Aloka wrote:The previously mentioned Kaccayanagotta sutta SN 12.15 is mentioned by Nagarjuna in the Mulamadhyamakakarika.

A sutta I enjoy reading is Phena Sutta- Foam - SN 22.15


Mighty fine suttas they are too, Aloka. To quote SN 20.7, the suttas are "discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness", so you will find a lot in the suttas that is relevant to emptiness.

In addition to those recommended, consider also...

MN 122: Maha-suññata Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Ud 1.10: Bahiya Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

... and for a guided tour of how deep they really are, see Bhikkhu Ñänananda's...

Nibbana Sermons
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... rmon_8.htm

Metta,
Retro. :)



Hi Retro,

Thanks - I found some others too but don't have the references here with me at the moment.

I'm enjoying my investigations of the suttas so much !


with metta,

Aloka :)

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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby adosa » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:32 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Pretty much all the early Buddhist schools featured sunnata / sunyata as an important part of their teachings.

In particular, the Sarvastivadins (before they were actually known as such) referred to themselves as the "sunyavadins" when they argued against the Pudgalavadins' theory of the "pudgala". They feature sunyata as one of the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths (four each). Along with anatman, these two were the only aspects that were applicable to all four truths. (The others like anitya being not applicable to the truth of cessation for instance.) It also featured heavily in their three samadhis system. They also have a few sutras that use "sunyata" as synonymous with dependent origination, such as the "mahasunyata-paryaya" and "paramartha-sunyata-paryaya". Neither of these sutras are found in Pali. However, they played an important role for several others schools, it seems. (eg. Sautrantika, and the *Satyasiddhi.)

Whenever the Mahasamghika sutras use "sunyata", it is often part of a set like this: The four immeasurables, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity; then the three samadhis, emptiness, nothingness and the signless. (This latter form of the three samadhis may be older than the form emptiness, intentionless, signless.) There are suggestions that in fact the four immeasurables are used as the samatha basis for entrance into the three samadhis. ie. cultivate loving kindness up to deep dhyana, then turn to contemplation of not self. This pattern is similar to the sutra on Purification of Almsfood, and the Sunakkhata sutta. (From memory!)

The *Satyasiddhi Sastra also heavily features sunyata. However, it has more of a Mahasamghika turn to it. It is used not just as "empty of self", but a generic "empty of ..." So, they used it a lot as a synonym for nirodha / nirvana, the absence of (empty of) defilements, and / or absence of deluded conceptualization.

Whatever the case, I am not sure what you mean by "trappings" of Mahayana. If you like the idea, just use the idea. No need to take other parts like the bodhisattva-theory or whatever. They can work independently, so to speak.

In recent decades, scholars like Warder and Kalupahana have argued that Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamaka Karika is based on the Agamas, and not necessarily Mahayana at all. Actually, Yinshun already said this decades before that! It's entire content is consistent with readings of the Agamas, though not necessarily the Theravada interpretation. But after all, the Theravada was just one school. Other schools had their own take. In particular, Nagarjuna's association of sunyata with dependent origination and the middle way is perfectly in accord with those Sautrantika sutras mentioned above. Perhaps the Theravadins lost these texts at some point. Hard to say.

You'll just have to look beyond the usual stuff that is found in Pali sources, and possibly beyond Sanskrit sources, too.

Full disclosure: My PhD is on sunyata in the Prajnaparamita, following it's development through early and mainstream Nikayan Buddhism.



Thank you Bhante for taking the time to answer my questions. First by "trappings" I meant no slight to the Mahayana. I simply see some of the teachings, albeit from my limited knowledge of them, as later add-ons and I, personally, have a heard time understanding how they would work (i.e. the Bodhisattva vows, etc.). I do however find a great deal of benefit for my practice in seeing the empty and interconnected, dependent nature of all phenomenon whether that is outside the mind or inside it. I'm seeing all phenomenon functioning the same regardless and as such they almost appear to be one in the same, dependent on conditions and void of any inherent, independent nature. Maybe this is leading somewhere, maybe not but it is a recurring observation in my meditation. So that was the basis of my question.

From what I can see you listed a number of other schools and thinkers by which I might pursue some more study. I've done some brief searching on the web to see if I could find any more information on these early suttas but I have found very little. What do you think about "The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika." ? From what you wrote it seems that this might be in line with what I am trying to put into words.

I realize at this point I'm conceptualizing and much, much more work needs to be done. But at some point isn't a working understanding of these concepts required in order to realize phenomenon's true nature through meditation?

At any rate, thanks to everyone again for taking the time to answer my questions.


adosa
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:02 am

adosa wrote:I realize at this point I'm conceptualizing and much, much more work needs to be done. But at some point isn't a working understanding of these concepts required in order to realize phenomenon's true nature through meditation?


Yes it's good to have a working understanding as long as you know it for what it is, just a working understanding. It's the scaffolding not the building itself, eventually when the building is built the scaffolding needs to be demolished.

However you were asking about the contemplation of emptiness which suggests you are wanting to go beyond a working understanding and expect to gain insight into emptiness through a practice of contemplating that working understanding, i'm not sure that would work.
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:43 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Full disclosure: My PhD is on sunyata in the Prajnaparamita, following it's development through early and mainstream Nikayan Buddhism.
What do you think of whatizname's little orange book on emptiness in the Agamas?


I think he did a so-so job of summarizing what Yinshun wrote back in 1984. But unlike Yinshun, I think that he made a bit of a mistake by including material from the Ekottaragama and parts of the Samyuktagama which have no equivalents in Pali, without any sort of philological comment. Hopefully (he said) chapter one of my dissertation will do a better job.
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:46 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings bhante,

Not sure if this is of any use or interest, but I read this once and it seemed interesting enough...

Proto-Maadhyamika in the Paali canon
By Luis O. Gomez
Philosophy East and West
26:2 April 1976
p. 137-165

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/gomez.htm

Metta,
Retro. :)


It's not a bad article at all, that one. I like that Gomez sees the problem (eg. see his criticisms of McCagney), but unfortunately, by only taking the Pali material into account, he is still unable to paint a more complete picture of pre-Madhyamaka (ie. Nikaya, Agama, Sastra) positions on sunyata. It's the same old problem that has plagued English language scholarship in this area for, well, about a century. ie. "If it isn't in the Pali, then it must be Mahayana." Oh, sheesh!
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:50 am

Greetings bhante,

Paññāsikhara wrote:Hopefully (he said) chapter one of my dissertation will do a better job.


It seems like you might have a few eager reviewers, should that be of any use.

Maitri*,
Retro. :)

* (that's not in Pali, so it must be Mahayana :rofl: )
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:04 am

adosa wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Pretty much all the early Buddhist schools featured sunnata / sunyata as an important part of their teachings.

In particular, the Sarvastivadins (before they were actually known as such) referred to themselves as the "sunyavadins" when they argued against the Pudgalavadins' theory of the "pudgala". They feature sunyata as one of the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths (four each). Along with anatman, these two were the only aspects that were applicable to all four truths. (The others like anitya being not applicable to the truth of cessation for instance.) It also featured heavily in their three samadhis system. They also have a few sutras that use "sunyata" as synonymous with dependent origination, such as the "mahasunyata-paryaya" and "paramartha-sunyata-paryaya". Neither of these sutras are found in Pali. However, they played an important role for several others schools, it seems. (eg. Sautrantika, and the *Satyasiddhi.)

Whenever the Mahasamghika sutras use "sunyata", it is often part of a set like this: The four immeasurables, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity; then the three samadhis, emptiness, nothingness and the signless. (This latter form of the three samadhis may be older than the form emptiness, intentionless, signless.) There are suggestions that in fact the four immeasurables are used as the samatha basis for entrance into the three samadhis. ie. cultivate loving kindness up to deep dhyana, then turn to contemplation of not self. This pattern is similar to the sutra on Purification of Almsfood, and the Sunakkhata sutta. (From memory!)

The *Satyasiddhi Sastra also heavily features sunyata. However, it has more of a Mahasamghika turn to it. It is used not just as "empty of self", but a generic "empty of ..." So, they used it a lot as a synonym for nirodha / nirvana, the absence of (empty of) defilements, and / or absence of deluded conceptualization.

Whatever the case, I am not sure what you mean by "trappings" of Mahayana. If you like the idea, just use the idea. No need to take other parts like the bodhisattva-theory or whatever. They can work independently, so to speak.

In recent decades, scholars like Warder and Kalupahana have argued that Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamaka Karika is based on the Agamas, and not necessarily Mahayana at all. Actually, Yinshun already said this decades before that! It's entire content is consistent with readings of the Agamas, though not necessarily the Theravada interpretation. But after all, the Theravada was just one school. Other schools had their own take. In particular, Nagarjuna's association of sunyata with dependent origination and the middle way is perfectly in accord with those Sautrantika sutras mentioned above. Perhaps the Theravadins lost these texts at some point. Hard to say.

You'll just have to look beyond the usual stuff that is found in Pali sources, and possibly beyond Sanskrit sources, too.

Full disclosure: My PhD is on sunyata in the Prajnaparamita, following it's development through early and mainstream Nikayan Buddhism.



Thank you Bhante for taking the time to answer my questions. First by "trappings" I meant no slight to the Mahayana. I simply see some of the teachings, albeit from my limited knowledge of them, as later add-ons and I, personally, have a heard time understanding how they would work (i.e. the Bodhisattva vows, etc.). I do however find a great deal of benefit for my practice in seeing the empty and interconnected, dependent nature of all phenomenon whether that is outside the mind or inside it. I'm seeing all phenomenon functioning the same regardless and as such they almost appear to be one in the same, dependent on conditions and void of any inherent, independent nature. Maybe this is leading somewhere, maybe not but it is a recurring observation in my meditation. So that was the basis of my question.


Well, it has been said by many a greater practitioner than myself, that one could be a Madhyamaka in doctrine without Mahayana motivation, or a Theravadin in doctrine with Maha(bodhi)yana motivation. I prefer to make some distinction between "doctrine" (vada) side of things, and the "vehicle" (yana). So, don't have any problem with what you are stating here. No offense taken.

From what I can see you listed a number of other schools and thinkers by which I might pursue some more study. I've done some brief searching on the web to see if I could find any more information on these early suttas but I have found very little. What do you think about "The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika." ? From what you wrote it seems that this might be in line with what I am trying to put into words.


The non-Pali sutras I mention are in the Chinese Agamas. You can look for Choong Mun-Keat's book "The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism" (it's the one Tilt has mentioned above). Or, you can email me, and I'll send you a big draft translation from Yinshun (better value!)

As far as Nagarjuna goes, well the question is this: If you read sources that come from the position that the Mulamadhyamaka Karika is a Mahayana work, then you often get a big chunk of Candrakirti in there as hermeneutic. eg. that book by Garfield - very Tibetan Gelug-pa if ever there was one, and also anything else that comes from the Tibetan traditions; If you read sources that come from the position that the MMK text is not Mahayana, then often the scholar in question is still just comparing it to the Pali texts, but not much stuff in the Agamas of other schools. eg. Kalupahana, Warder.

That's why I read Yinshun! :P

So, I wouldn't recommend Garfield's book from what you are trying to do. However, if you can get your hands on a (rather expensive) copy of Booking's translation of Kumarajiva's Chinese translation of the MMK (plus the earliest commentary we have, by several centuries), "Nagarjuna in China, A Translation of the Middle Treatise", then that is recommended by far. Kalupahana, granted, does appreciate this text as the oldest source and commentary, but in the end, he doesn't really use it. He then gets a bit tangled up in some very Pali Sutta based positions, as he tried to show all the Abhidhamma people to the target of Nagarjuna, but kind of get's confused a lot by what the Sarvastivada and Sautrantika are actually saying. Booking just translates the text, along with the old commentary. Kumarajiva, who was the translator for the Chinese, is probably one of the best of the old Madhyamakas, older than Candrakirti by a long shot. He was also formerly a Sarvastivadin type (in the broad sense, not orthodox Vaibhasika), and so he really knew what he was translating. Same too for the Upadesa commentary to the Prajnaparamita, but that is explicitly Mahayana, so I'll leave it out here.

I realize at this point I'm conceptualizing and much, much more work needs to be done. But at some point isn't a working understanding of these concepts required in order to realize phenomenon's true nature through meditation?


hearing, contemplation, cultivation. That's the order of the development of insight.
You need to use concepts to understand what you are actually going to do. But, whilst doing it, then leave out the excessive mentation and conceptualization. The early traditions mainly reject "conceptualization" in the form of conceptualizing "I", "mine" and "my soul". But, other forms of basic concept are less of a problem.

At any rate, thanks to everyone again for taking the time to answer my questions.


adosa


:anjali:
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Question on Schools of Buddhism and emptiness

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:25 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Full disclosure: My PhD is on sunyata in the Prajnaparamita, following it's development through early and mainstream Nikayan Buddhism.
What do you think of whatizname's little orange book on emptiness in the Agamas?


I think he did a so-so job of summarizing what Yinshun wrote back in 1984. But unlike Yinshun, I think that he made a bit of a mistake by including material from the Ekottaragama and parts of the Samyuktagama which have no equivalents in Pali, without any sort of philological comment. Hopefully (he said) chapter one of my dissertation will do a better job.
And we hope dearly that you will not have your thesis published by Routledge or some other scholarly press that will charge an arm and a leg for the book version, keeping it locked at that price for years before us average scmucks can get it at a cheaper price.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson


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