Emptiness (shunyata) is a key concept in Buddhism. It is commonly associated with the Prajnaparamita sutras, and often understood to mean “nothing possesses a fixed, inherent nature because all things arise through causation and exist interdependently.” The realization of emptiness thus allows people to free themselves from attachments to things and events and attain spiritual tranquility.
Emptiness is also mentioned in several chapters of the Lotus Sutra, where it is described as a condition that allows people to enter the bodhisattva path of the One Vehicle.
The Buddhist concept of emptiness is even compared to some Christian notions of God (John Cobb, Jr.) and with the concept of kenosis, or Christ’s emptying of his personal will to become receptive to the will of God (Thomas Merton).
Although emptiness is an important concept, its meaning is multifarious and a clear understanding of it is not easy to achieve. It is open to multiple interpretations and often misunderstood to mean that everything is unreal, thus conjuring a sense of nothingness or hopelessness. However, many Buddhists understand the realization of emptiness to be the ultimate spiritual awakening―the goal of their Buddhist practice.
Emptiness is essential to both doctrine and practice. It is also a popular topic of meditation, especially in America. In the next issue, Dharma World will explore the concept and practice of emptiness: How it is understood and practiced by modern Buddhists, especially in the West; how it is employed in interreligious dialogue; what significance it has in the Lotus Sutra; and how it can be applied as a means to deal with conflicts in the world today.
Is Emptiness the Ultimate Goal of Buddhists? (Koichi Kawamoto)
Beyond Emptiness (Brook Ziporyn)
Emptiness in Three Dimensions for the Fourth Time (Douglas Duckworth)
The Other Side of Emptiness (Ruben L. F. Habito)
Emptiness, Buddhist and Christian (Leo D. Lefebure)
“Found in Translation”: Transpositions of the Lotus Sutra (A Report on the International Lotus Sutra Seminar by Yue Eric Tojimbara)
Business and Religion: A Historical Look at John Wanamaker and the American Department Store (Nicole C. Kirk)
Diversity Is Always Part of Reality (An Interview with Rev. Fadi Daou and Dr. Nayla Tabbara of the Adyan Foundation) From Scripture to Social Action: Translating the Lotus Sutra (Bee Scherer)
Buddha-Nature (2): We Are Children of the Buddha (Dominick Scarangello)
The Inheritance of the Lamp of the Dharma (Nikkyo Niwano)
People Who Are Like a Fragrant Breeze (Nichiko Niwano)
THE THREEFOLD LOTUS SUTRA: A MODERN COMMENTARY
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law
Chapter 26: Dharanis (3)
Published semiannually, Dharma World is a magazine that presents Buddhism as a practical living religion and promotes interreligious dialogue for world peace. It espouses views that emphasise the dignity of life, seeks to rediscover our inner nature and bring our lives more in accord with it, and investigates causes of human suffering. It tries to show how religious principles help solve problems in daily life and how the least application of such principles has wholesome effects on the world around us. It seeks to demonstrate truths that are fundamental to all religions, truths on which all people can act.
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