Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Buddha on How the World Is Empty

Venerable 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, Blessed One. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

 "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 are empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.  Eye-consciousness is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ear-consciousness is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ear-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

 "The nose is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms are empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.  Nose-consciousness is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Nose-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

 "The tongue is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms are empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.  Tongue-consciousness is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Tongue-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

 "The body is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms are empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.  Body-consciousness is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Body-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

 "The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas are empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.  Intellect-consciousness is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."
(Sunna Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya 35:85, Tipitaka)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another very helpful sutta for me right now. :-)

Thanks,
Vanessa

G said...

Glad to have been the vehicle through which Buddha speaks to you, Vanessa. Powerful words after two-and-a-half millennia since they were uttered!

mrf said...

Thanks for the post, Mahayanists are more familiar with this teaching in the Heart Sutra: "Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form. Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are emptiness. Thus, Sariputra, all dharmas are emptiness. There are no characteristics. There is no birth and no cessation. There is no impurity and no purity. There is no decrease and no increase. Therefore, Sariputra, in emptiness, there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no dharmas"

G said...

Hi mrf. Yes, it's interesting to see the roots of what is often considered a Mahayana Buddhist teaching in the Pali canon. There are other references to sunna/shunya in the early Theravada Buddhist texts, illustrating more of the roots of this important Buddhist insight. The Heart Sutra has featured on these pages previously, but it's always a pleasure to read it, especially here where it connects with the Sunna Sutta so well. Thanks for your contribution, mrf.

Anonymous said...

who said: see that the senses do not connect a 'you' to an outside world and there is instant realization.

G said...

A useful reflection, Anonymous - whoever said it!

Anonymous said...

no one said it

G said...

Ah, see what you did there, Anonymous. :)

Anonymous said...

Karl Renz: Human is an idea.

See that and the gig is up!

G said...

Yes, sakkaya-ditthi - the idea of being a (human) self -needs to be given up if our true nature is to be lived, but so is mana - 'conceit,' the vague feeling of being a (human) self - and that is much harder to relinquish. Self is an idea...and a feeling. See through those, and the gig is cancelled altogether!

mr. bend said...

Is the World Perfect?

G said...

Mr. Bend, that depends on what you think qualifies as 'perfect.' In truth, Buddhism isn't so interested in such a question, but rather emphasizes reflecting on the nature of the human condition and it's relationship to the world. Whether viewed as perfect or imperfect, there is suffering & ignorance in relation to the world, and Buddhism can help us to let go of the causes of this ignorant suffering, in the process awakening to our true nature, empty of a clinging self.

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