Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, January 15, 2007


Below is an excerpt from an article comparing the concept of Emptiness in Daoist and Buddhist thought. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the complete article. It's interesting reading.

"The most common misunderstanding people have about the Tao is that 'Emptiness' in the Tao has a similar meaning to 'Emptiness' (Sunyata, Chinese: Kung, Japanese: Ku) in Buddhism. This is because different words in Buddhism and Taoism were all translated as Emptiness in English.

Several different Chinese characters are used for Emptiness in the Tao, but Chinese Buddhists mostly use the character on the right (pronounced 'Kung').

'Taoist Emptiness' is completely different to 'Buddhism Emptiness'. The Emptiness in the Tao is about restraint, patience, frugality, simplicity, lack of worldly desire etc. These are all good things for Buddhists, but they have nothing whatever to do with Buddhist Emptiness, which is about the inaccuracy of our 'externalist' perceptions of reality and the fictional objects that are created from that misunderstanding."


Silverstar said...

Interesting article on brief history of two philosphies and variations of the concept of emptiness.

Rick Matz said...

I think there is a tendency to lump Daoism and Buddhism (particulary Zen) together, when they are really different things.

ms_lili said...

I didn't see much of an article when I clicked on the title. Is there something I missed?

Seems that emptiness to the buddhist is an attained state of freedom. With the daoist, emptiness is the active, important space between this thing and that thing and is a thing in itself.

I can see where the zen buddhists wanted to use terminology that was familiar to the locals in order to get a foot in the door in China. It does muddy the waters as we look at the texts during the integration/introduction era. You'd think current authors would have had this straightened out for a long time by now.

Rick Matz said...

I think what really muddy's the water is that the English word "empty" was chosen to represent two different concepts.

I can't begin to describe how interesting the study of kanji has become; getting at the root meanings of words.

ms_lili said...

when i studied medical terminology (yes i wanted to work as a medical transcriber, don't ask me why) it's all about the roots. word etiology is fascinating, regardless of which language. that book of chinese idioms is also fun to look at. a language's idioms say a lot about its culture.