Form is emptiness

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Spiny Norman
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Spiny Norman »

Caodemarte wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:44 pm
chownah wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:15 pm
Dinsdale wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2019 2:06 pm

We're back to nouns and adjectives!
Yeah! I am actually assuming that what is said is what is meant. To say that form is emptiness and emptiness is form in the engish language means that they are the same thing and strongly implies (if not actually saying) that they are equivalent.

If whoever translates the heart sutra into english is listening please know that you have made a mistake in your translation (I guess)....according to dinsdale (I guess) you are really trying to say that form is empty and empty is form.....this puts emptiness in the role of being one of the characteristics of form and does not elevate it to a position of equivalence with form.

Correct it......dinsdale's interpretation of what you say indicates that the way you have said it is wrong...correct it.

Personally, I don't know what they mean....perhaps dinsdale is wrong in his interpretation....I don't really know.

There is a sutta (I brought the link before) where the buddha talks about emptiness (as a noun...imagine that...they use a noun to mean a noun!) and maybe that is what the heart sutra is all about....I don't know so I won't even guess.
chownah
chownah
Emptiness is not a thing so it cannot contain anything. It is not a possession of form, it is exactly form as the translations state.A gold statue does not exist separately as gold (substance) and the form of the statue. Substance and form are one in a gold statue. Divide the two and you may have a mass of gold and a plan for a statue, but you no longer have a gold statue.

A chair over there does not have emptiness as a quality. The chair is empty. If you take it apart you will find only pieces. Take the pieces apart and you will still not find a chair existing independently. Everything is dependent on everything else, existing because of dependent or, as Nhat Trich Hahn calls it, interdependent origination. The chair is empty. The chair is emptiness and vice versa. All is empty. That is what we call emptiness as a concept. No atman, no eternal self, etc.
Saying "the chair is empty" is short-hand for "the chair is empty of independent existence" or "the chair doesn't exist from its own side" or "the chair lacks own-being" or
"the nature of the chair is emptiness".

Clearly sunyata isn't a thing, it's just the nature of things. In much the same way that anicca is just the nature of things.

As for the other thread, did you provide any sutta references to support citta and mano being the same thing?
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Caodemarte
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Caodemarte »

Dinsdale wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:00 pm ....
Saying "the chair is empty" is short-hand for "the chair is empty of independent existence" or "the chair doesn't exist from its own side" or "the chair lacks own-being" or
"the nature of the chair is emptiness".

Clearly sunyata isn't a thing, it's just the nature of things. In much the same way that anicca is just the nature of things.
Yes. not a thing and not an object.
chownah
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by chownah »

Seems like people are saying "we know what they mean when they say that form is emptiness...what they mean is that form is empty (of something)". People express these views and then sort of assume (or even state) that it is obvious or clear that by "emptiness" they mean "empty". That is fine and I have not desire to argue with people about their views on this but I think that 1. alot of people do take emptiness as a thing and do interpret "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" as being a statement of equivalence which is not surprising because that is certainly a reasonable if not the most reasonable interpretatoin of what it means in the english language....and 2. the sutta I brought (is it mn121?....I forget) certainly handles "emptiness" differently from how the other suttas (lots of them) handle "empty"....to me this means that there is a distinction to be drawn here.

I think it is sort of amusing that in another thread I try to suggest that citta and mano might be interchangeable and I get all sorts of reasons given for why we should think of them differently and there is little to know effort brought to bring texts which show examples of context specific meanings and here I suggest that emptiness and empty (a noun and an adjective) should be thought of as being different and I do bring context specific examples and now people are wanting to say they should be thought of as being the same inspite of how differently they are handled in the suttas........in both cases (it seems to me) people are arguing a position without bringing the sutta references which support their opinions.
chownah
atipattoh
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by atipattoh »

Dinsdale wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:18 pm What do you all make of this new translation of the Heart Sutra by Thich Nhat Hanh - any good?

https://plumvillage.org/news/thich-nhat ... anslation/
“Listen Sariputra,
all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;
their true nature is the nature of
no Birth no Death,
no Being no Non-being,
no Defilement no Purity,
no Increasing no Decreasing.
It appear to me, no Being no Non-being contradicting 是色非色空; which was omitted from scroll 37 & 409 that clear does not deny Being. He is pushing heart sutra even more towards HuiNeng's 菩提本无树 platform verses.
sunnat
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by sunnat »

To be empty means to view, observe, be aware of, experience, etc anything that has arisen, without reaction, with equanimity and thereby see, know with direct experience that being observed.

The Dhamma is like a river that flows through. It's full of kamma seed. The habit is to be full of habits of grasping hold of the seeds as they float by. When instead watching the Dhamma equanimously, emptying of these habits, becoming empty, being empty, the grasping ends. There is no more accumulation. There is no more germination of seeds and the seeds flow away. The river is empty. Emptiness begets emptiness.
Spiny Norman
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Spiny Norman »

chownah wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:11 am Seems like people are saying "we know what they mean when they say that form is emptiness...what they mean is that form is empty (of something)". People express these views and then sort of assume (or even state) that it is obvious or clear that by "emptiness" they mean "empty". That is fine and I have not desire to argue with people about their views on this but I think that 1. alot of people do take emptiness as a thing and do interpret "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" as being a statement of equivalence which is not surprising because that is certainly a reasonable if not the most reasonable interpretatoin of what it means in the english language....and 2. the sutta I brought (is it mn121?....I forget) certainly handles "emptiness" differently from how the other suttas (lots of them) handle "empty"....to me this means that there is a distinction to be drawn here.

I think it is sort of amusing that in another thread I try to suggest that citta and mano might be interchangeable and I get all sorts of reasons given for why we should think of them differently and there is little to know effort brought to bring texts which show examples of context specific meanings and here I suggest that emptiness and empty (a noun and an adjective) should be thought of as being different and I do bring context specific examples and now people are wanting to say they should be thought of as being the same inspite of how differently they are handled in the suttas........in both cases (it seems to me) people are arguing a position without bringing the sutta references which support their opinions.
chownah
I posted the new TNH translation of the Heart Sutra, and a Triratna article on the specific question we've been discussing. Also a pointer to "emptiness of emptiness". I'm sure you could find some other translations or references to bring to the discussion.

But in this case it's not just about translation, it's about understanding what sunyata really is. That's why i suggested some further investigation on this important term.
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sherab
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Sherab »

samsarictravelling wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:24 am
Sherab wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2019 11:30 pm
Dinsdale wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:30 am

Im not sure what they mean, they are just examples of the way sunyata is reified. Possibly it's due to the influence of other religious traditions that Buddhism has mingled with, and adapted to.
Sometimes people talk about sunyata, and it sounds more like Brahman. :shrug:
I think that sunyata/emptiness/void is a difficult idea for people to wrap their heads around it. (My teacher thought otherwise though because when I ask him what is emptiness, he said that it is simple but did not elaborate. It is possible that the very simplicity of emptiness that makes it so difficult.)

I have yet to see someone with a view of sunyata that is consistent with dependent arising. Very often I see people saying that sunyata is identical with dependent arising. I think that is inaccurate.

I also think that too many shrink away from considering the idea of an ultimate reality as this that would cause others to accuse them of subscribing to eternalism or to Brahman. So when a person starts making statement about reification of sunyata I wanted to know his/her thinking behind that statement.

In the Mahayana, I think most would hold that emptiness (the lack of self of person and the lack of self of phenomena) is the ultimate reality of all dharmas. In this sense, it is simple. But it, in my opinion, is not the ground of being. For that, I would argue (tentatively) that you need consciousness.
I found this about 2 days ago. I went searching for it again just now and found it (I think it's the same article; I re-read the parts I think I read then, and it sounds exactly like what I read two days or so ago). I boldface parts from the selection I give (after I the boldfaced the title, author's name, and date given for the article). My selection may be pertinent to the discussion of 'emptiness':

The Heart Sutra Will Change You Forever

BY KARL BRUNNHÖLZL| SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

...

One thing we can safely say about the Heart Sutra is that it is completely crazy. If we read it, it does not make any sense. Well, maybe the beginning and end make sense, but everything in the middle sounds like a sophisticated form of nonsense, which can be said to be the basic feature of the Prajnaparamita Sutras in general. If we like the word “no,” we might like the sutra because that is the main word it uses—no this, no that, no everything. We could also say that it is a sutra about wisdom, but it is a sutra about crazy wisdom. When we read it, it sounds nuts, but that is actually where the wisdom part comes in. What the Heart Sutra (like all Prajnaparamita Sutras) does is to cut through, deconstruct, and demolish all our usual conceptual frameworks, all our rigid ideas, all our belief systems, all our reference points, including any with regard to our spiritual path. It does so on a very fundamental level, not just in terms of thinking and concepts, but also in terms of our perception, how we see the world, how we hear, how we smell, taste, touch, how we regard and emotionally react to ourselves and others, and so on. This sutra pulls the rug out from underneath our feet and does not leave anything intact that we can think of, nor even a lot of things that we cannot think of. This is called “crazy wisdom.” I guess I should give you a warning here that this sutra is hazardous to your samsaric sanity. What Sangharakshita says about the Diamond Sutra equally applies to all Prajnaparamita Sutras, including the Heart Sutra:

…if we insist that the requirements of the logical mind be satisfied, we are missing the point. What the Diamond Sutra is actually delivering is not a systematic treatise, but a series of sledgehammer blows, attacking from this side and that, to try and break through our fundamental delusion. It is not going to make things easy for the logical mind by putting things in a logical form. This sutra is going to be confusing, irritating, annoying, and unsatisfying—and perhaps we cannot ask for it to be otherwise. If it were all set forth neatly and clearly, leaving no loose ends, we might be in danger of thinking we had grasped the Perfection of Wisdom.
—Sangharakshita, Wisdom Beyond Words

...

Source: https://www.lionsroar.com/the-heart-sut ... u-forever/

____________________________________________________________________________

I most likely don't want to reply to any reply post, so please forgive me.
I disagree with this: "if we insist that the requirements of the logical mind be satisfied, we are missing the point..." if it means throwing out logic altogether. If logic is thrown out altogether, then anything goes, really.

For me, logic and logical reasoning is a means to circumscribe that which is, at the end of the day, ineffable or inexpressible. Without the ineffable or inexpressible being circumscribed by logic and logical reasoning, it is not possible for me to accept if someone comes up to me and say that the enlightenment of the Buddha cannot be expressed. In other words, that which is said to be inexpressible or to "transcend logic" cannot, as far as I am concerned, contradict logic as we know it. If it does, I cannot be certain that I am not being led down a garden path and belief/faith would not be possible.

Also, regarding "What the Diamond Sutra is actually delivering is .... to try and break through our fundamental delusion" --- If it is not possible to explain in a logical and reasonable manner why this should be the case, why should I believe it?
sunnat
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by sunnat »

I think the Buddha would say well done, indeed, why should you. Don't just believe. However some things are understood through direct experience, not by logic alone. Then, having had the experience it partly becomes a matter of faith that further reveals will be had if practicing as suggested. Etc
Spiny Norman
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Spiny Norman »

sunnat wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:29 am I think the Buddha would say well done, indeed, why should you. Don't just believe. However some things are understood through direct experience, not by logic alone. Then, having had the experience it partly becomes a matter of faith that further reveals will be had if practicing as suggested. Etc
Like the three marks in the suttas, I don't think sunyata is a belief to be taken on. It's more like a theory to be tested by observing aspects of experience.
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Caodemarte
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Caodemarte »

The Heart Sutra is a summary of the Prajnaparmita literature and what arose from that. What arose from that is the Madhymaka school which fully explicated why emptiness is not only logical, but why it would be the only logical position possible. There is a vast collection of texts on this. Of course, ultimately one has to drop these beliefs as well and the whole point is to confirm these ideas in meditation and practice. If one does not understand at any level why the Heart Sutra says what it says, it is unlikely that it can cut through anything or serve as a pointer. Saying that the Heart Sutra is illogical really ignores all of what the Heart Sutra summarizes and the post-Prajnaparmita schools which further explicated this until the present day, if not all of the Buddhist tradition. Buddhism is not an illogical, antirational collection of random craziness.
Spiny Norman
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Spiny Norman »

Caodemarte wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2019 1:42 am The Heart Sutra is a summary of the Prajnaparmita literature and what arose from that. What arose from that is the Madhymaka school which fully explicated why emptiness is not only logical, but why it would be the only logical position possible. There is a vast collection of texts on this. Of course, ultimately one has to drop these beliefs as well and the whole point is to confirm these ideas in meditation and practice. If one does not understand at any level why the Heart Sutra says what it says, it is unlikely that it can cut through anything or serve as a pointer. Saying that the Heart Sutra is illogical really ignores all of what the Heart Sutra summarizes and the post-Prajnaparmita schools which further explicated this until the present day, if not all of the Buddhist tradition. Buddhism is not an illogical, antirational collection of random craziness.
:goodpost:

And a Theravada forum is not an ideal place to discuss a Mahayana teaching.
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Caodemarte
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Caodemarte »

Dinsdale wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:14 am....


:goodpost:

And a Theravada forum is not an ideal place to discuss a Mahayana teaching.
Yes, that is true. But emptiness in Theravada is relevant and the way emptiness as a concept is made more explicit from the same root teachings may also be.
atipattoh
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by atipattoh »

Caodemarte wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2019 1:42 am The Heart Sutra is a summary of the Prajnaparmita literature and what arose from that….
Heart sutra differ greatly from Prajñāpāramitā, since it omitted the core statement in the Prajñāpāramitā scrolls which says, infact opposite of what the scrolls presented, from
(note:treating below as my summary)
A
色性空,受、想、行、識性空。舍利子!是色非色空,是色空非色色不離空,空不離色,色即是空,空即是色,受、想、行、識亦復如是。
My direct rendering plus slight changes when necessary in red :
Form, empty in nature! Feeling, perception, volition formation and consciousness is empty in nature.
Sariputta; is form, not form is empty; is, form is empty not form
Form is not seperated from emptiness nature,
Emptiness nature is not seperated from form,

Thus, form is empty of self; which is its intrinsic nature.
Second read:
Form, empty in nature! Feeling, perception, volition formation and consciousness, all are empty of self in nature.
Sariputta; puthujjana regards form as self, not form as being empty of self; to the Nobles form is empty in nature, does not regards form as self.
Therefore, form is not devoid from emptiness nature, neither does emptiness not the nature of form,
Bottom line is, form is empty of self; that is its intrinsic nature.
(looking forward for a 3rd read if there is one from anyone)
Emptiness nature and intrinsic nature, is treated as synonym.
A goes through transformation (the work of the emperor and his minister plus some monks, perhaps), on Fangshan Stone Sutra:
B, (first of its kind, red circle in image)
色不异空,空不异色,
色即是空,空即是色
Form is not other than emptiness. Emptiness is not other than form
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form

Further variation:
C
色即是空,空即是色
色不异空,空不异色,
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
Form is not other than emptiness. Emptiness is not other than form
Accordingly , regards it as a summary.
Curious, why is there a need to reverse the pairs from B to C. Most probably, perhaps after being pointed out its inconsistency nature in the past, is the reason. Which means, there is plenty of people that see this, what I said is not new!
Does any one has info of, possibility that it is A, C, B?

I find it strange, that, “是色非色空,是色空非色” clearly means (色空) form and emptiness nature, not to be treated as a mirror relationship, ie. Equality; but being omitted in B, the Prajñāpāramitā heart sutra, an alteration into something else, emphasizing mirror interpretation; furthermore, with the effect from “is great gods mantra, is a Great Mantra, the most illuminating mantra, the highest mantra” (green circle in image) on the stone stele which mean to be for worshipping purpose, and yet heart sutra can be regarded as a summary of Prajñāpāramitā sutra! One interesting missing part in TNH’s translation is, “is great gods mantra”.
Fangshan Stone Stele
Fangshan Stone Stele
Afais, C = B not equal A.
Is there any writings that anyone can share, that says “Form is not other than emptiness. Emptiness is not other than form” qualify to replace “是色非色空,是色空非色,色不離空,空不離色”, so that I can take the below comment as logical.
What arose from that is the Madhymaka school which fully explicated why emptiness is not only logical, but why it would be the only logical position possible.
If there are other sutra that I’ve missed, kindly share a link.
Thanks in advance!

********************

Apart from the above, mirror interpretation is meant to bring out the essence of 「本性」(prakrti)﹑「自性」(svabhava), that is depicted in the Platform verses, generally, many that despises such teaching , yet in separate occasion praising heart sutra, sometimes when I read that kind of comment, well, what can I say!

********************

Hi ShanYin,
Apart from sutta on emptiness and empty of self, Theravada also has this:
Seven Elements
…..
Mendicant, the element of light appears due to the element of darkness. The element of beauty appears due to the element of ugliness. The element of the dimension of infinite space appears due to the element of form. The element of the dimension of infinite consciousness appears due to the element of the dimension of infinite space. The element of the dimension of nothingness appears due to the element of the dimension of infinite consciousness. The element of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception appears due to the element of the dimension of nothingness. The element of the cessation of perception and feeling appears due to the element of cessation.
….
ShanYin wrote: Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:28 am Are Theravadins taking a psychological/spiritual approach and ignoring this teaching?
Theravada also has Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga to rely on – a practical guide to understand the above, so Theravada does not play on words or trying to understand thru concept, but practically doing it, experiencing it, knowing it, seeing it.
Spiny Norman
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Spiny Norman »

Caodemarte wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:17 pm
Dinsdale wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:14 am....


:goodpost:

And a Theravada forum is not an ideal place to discuss a Mahayana teaching.
Yes, that is true. But emptiness in Theravada is relevant and the way emptiness as a concept is made more explicit from the same root teachings may also be.
Indeed, though different traditions invariably have different perspectives on apparently similar teachings. Understanding the differences can be as instructive as understanding the similarities.

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=19585
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Caodemarte
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Re: Form is emptiness

Post by Caodemarte »

atipattoh wrote: Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:28 am...Theravada does not play on words or trying to understand thru concept, but practically doing it, experiencing it, knowing it, seeing it.
You might want to read “Entry into the inconceivable” by Thomas Cleary how the Hua-yen school’s thorough explication of”form = emptiness” thought, but there are many others. I would suggest that all forms of Buddhism “does not play on words or trying to understand thru concept, but practically doing it, experiencing it, knowing it, seeing it.” If they do, they are not real Buddhism! :D
And with that, back to Theravada.
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