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The Philosophy of Emptiness

by Nagapriya

This is the fourth talk in a five-part series by Nagapriya exploring Mahayana Buddhism.

This talk explores the important concept of sunyata in Mahayana Buddhism. Nagapriya explains how sunyata reformulates the fundamental Buddhist concept of conditioned co-production, how to approach emptiness philosophically and practically, and why the philosophy of sunyata arose in later Buddhist thought to more precisely explain the nature of reality.

Talk given at Manchester Buddhist Centre, 2009

This talk is part of the series Visions of Mahayana Buddhism.

Tracks (click play to listen)

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1. Avalokiteshvara as a metaphor for our sangha; recap of previous talk; introduction (6:44) 
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2. Defining sunyata as a re-expression of the principle of conditioned co-production (8:21) 
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3. The style of thought involved in sunyata; speaking in terms of what it isn't so as not to limit its definition (6:00) 
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4. Unpacking the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras; Mahayana emphasis on wisdom; sunyata addresses the issue of fixed identity (10:32) 
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5. Analyzing dharmas and Buddhist concepts through sunyata; treating concepts as tools, not ends in themselves (5:16) 
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6. Nagarjuna's method of analysis; looking at the paradoxical nature of this deep type of analysis (7:29) 
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7. The development of later Buddhist philosophies and our own personal practice, building on previous ways of seeing (3:26) 
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8. Nagajuna's emphasis on two levels of truth - conventional and ultimate; confronting our own ideas about truth (5:26) 
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9. Summary; how sunyata concept helps us free ourselves from attachment; conclusion (4:11) 

Total running time: 57:25