10. Emptiness Teachings

The Emptiness teachings are the core of Mahayana and Zen Buddhist understanding and practice. Emptiness refers to the reality that nothing is permanent, everything comes and goes in a flash, and hence everything and everyone is "empty of self-nature," that is, any abiding, substantial essence. So things are empty of themselves, but full of everything else. As Nagarjuna teaches, emptiness is interconnection. Because of this, things cannot ever be separate from one another. Our experience of separation, while important, is essentially linguistic; it is fundamentally spurious – though it is, not incidentally, the root cause of our suffering. As Norman says in his short essay, "A Few Words about Emptiness," "Three attitudes arise as a consequence of the appreciation of emptiness: First, flexibility - since nothing is real, fixed, separate, or able to be possessed what's the point of resistance? Second, kindness - since everything is nothing but connection kindness is natural. Third, humility - who is going to feel like he's master of all this talk?" Emptiness and Compassion are the twin pillars of the Mahayana and Zen teachings. You can't appreciate emptiness without appreciating compassion, and vice versa. The Heart Sutra, chanted daily in Zen monasteries and temples, is a great place to begin studying the Emptiness teachings, followed by the Diamond Sutra and Nagarjuna's Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way.

Books

 
Title
Description
Author/Lecturer
Date

Download
The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way
A scholarly but lucid translation and commentary of Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarikas (Verses of the Middle).
Jay Garfield
Nov 09, 1995
The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines & Its Verse Summary
More extensive text than either the Diamond or the Heart Sutra. Conze has also translated the 100,000 line Perfectio...
Edward Conze
Oct 01, 1994
Buddhist Wisdom: The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra
Conze’s classic translation, with very useful commentary, of both the Heart and Diamond sutras.
Edward Conze
Apr 24, 2001
Verses from the Center
An impressionistic and interpretative translation of Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarikas (Verses of the Middle) with ...
Stephen Batchelor
Jul 10, 2001
The Diamond Sutra
Zoketsu’s talks based on this translation. (NOTE: audio files will be completed by June, 2008).
Red Pine
Dec 17, 2002
The Heart Sutra
Red Pine is a wonderful, sensible, and careful translator and commentator
Red Pine
Aug 09, 2005

Audio

 
Title
Description
Author/Lecturer
Date

Download
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 1 of 5)
First in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 2 of 5)
Second in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 3 of 5)
Third in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 4 of 5)
Fourth in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 5 of 5)
Fifth in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Prajna Paramita in 8,000 Lines (Part 1 of 4)
First in a series of four talks on "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines" translated by Edward Conze.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Sep 05, 2007
Prajna Paramita in 8,000 Lines (Part 2 of 4)
Second in a series of four talks on "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines" translated by Edward Conze.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Sep 12, 2007
Prajna Paramita in 8,000 Lines (Part 3 of 4)
Third in a series of four talks on "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines" translated by Edward Conze.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Sep 26, 2007
Prajna Paramita in 8,000 Lines (Part 4 of 4)
Third in a series of four talks on "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines" translated by Edward Conze.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Oct 04, 2007
Diamond Sutra 1
First talk on Diamond Sutra - Red Pine Edition. Our apologies that the last few seconds of the recording were inadver...
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 07, 2008
Diamond Sutra 1 - Samish Island
First of four talks on The Diamond Sutra given at Samish Island Sesshin based on Red Pine edition.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jun 24, 2008
Diamond Sutra 2
Second talk on the Diamond Sutra, Red Pine Edition
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 21, 2008
Diamond Sutra 2 - Samish Island
Second of four talks on the Diamond Sutra given at Samish Island Sesshin based on Red Pine edition.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jun 25, 2008
Diamond Sutra 3
Third in a series on the Diamond Sutra, Red Pine Edition
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 28, 2008
Diamond Sutra 3 - Samish Island
Third of four talks on the Diamond Sutra given at Samish Island Sesshin based on Red Pine edition.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jun 26, 2008
Diamond Sutra 4
Norman talks on Chapter Thirteen and Fourteen of the Diamond Sutra - Red Pine Edition.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Nov 12, 2008
Diamond Sutra 4 - Samish Island
Fourth of four talks on the Diamond Sutra given at Samish Island Sesshin based on Red Pine Edition
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jun 27, 2008
Diamond Sutra 5
Norman covers Chapters 16 thru 32 (the end)of the Diamond Sutra, Red Pine Edition. Due to recording issues the first ...
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Nov 26, 2008
Platform Sutra 1 Vancouver
First talk given in Vancouver of the Platform Sutra, Red Pine Edition
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 10, 2008
Platform Sutra 2 Vancouver
Second talk given in Vancouver on the Platform Sutra, Red Pine edition.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 11, 2008
Heart Sutra 2009 - 1
First talk in this 2009 series of talks on the Heart Sutra.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jan 07, 2009
Heart Sutra 2009 - 2 and Eulogy for Rabbi Alan Lew
This talk includes both the second talk on the Heart Sutra and a Eulogy for Zen Rabbi Alan Lew, Norman's close friend...
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jan 14, 2009
Heart Sutra 2009 - 3
Third and last in the series on the Heart Sutra. Due to recording error, last week's recording did not take.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jan 28, 2009

Texts

 
Title
Description
Author/Lecturer
Date

Download
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 1 of 5)
First in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 2 of 5)
Second in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 3 of 5)
Third in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 4 of 5)
Fourth in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Heart Sutra and Emptiness (Part 5 of 5)
Fifth in a series of five talks on this central Mahayana teaching.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Mar 31, 2004
Prajna Paramita in 8,000 Lines (Part 1 of 4)
First in a series of four talks on "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines" translated by Edward Conze.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Sep 05, 2007
Prajna Paramita in 8,000 Lines (Part 2 of 4)
Second in a series of four talks on "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines" translated by Edward Conze.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Sep 12, 2007
Prajna Paramita in 8,000 Lines (Part 3 of 4)
Third in a series of four talks on "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines" translated by Edward Conze.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Sep 26, 2007
Diamond Sutra 1
First talk on Diamond Sutra - Red Pine Edition. Our apologies that the last few seconds of the recording were inadver...
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 07, 2008
Diamond Sutra 1 - Samish Island
First of four talks on The Diamond Sutra given at Samish Island Sesshin based on Red Pine edition.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Jun 24, 2008
Diamond Sutra 2
Second talk on the Diamond Sutra, Red Pine Edition
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 21, 2008
Diamond Sutra 3
Third in a series on the Diamond Sutra, Red Pine Edition
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
May 28, 2008
Diamond Sutra 4
Norman talks on Chapter Thirteen and Fourteen of the Diamond Sutra - Red Pine Edition.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Nov 12, 2008
Diamond Sutra 5
Norman covers Chapters 16 thru 32 (the end)of the Diamond Sutra, Red Pine Edition. Due to recording issues the first ...
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Nov 26, 2008