Now emptiness can be understood in various ways in Buddhism.
The Mahaparinirvana Sutra explains emptiness this way:
Emptiness [shunyata] means that one can find nothing even after having sought it.
Although the Nirgranthas [Jains] also have a ‘nothing’, Liberation is not like that.
Emptiness is like this:
- Concerning a honey jar, a butter jar, an oil jar, a water jar, or a yoghurt jar, no matter whether there is any yoghurt in the jar or not, it is still called a ‘yoghurt jar’, and
- Similarly no matter whether there is any honey or water there or not, one still calls them a honey jar or a water jar.
How can one then say that the jar [structure] is empty or that the jar [structure] is intrinsically empty in the absence of that [yoghurt and so forth]? If it has both form and colour, how is it empty?
Liberation is not that sort of [utter] emptiness, for Liberation also has a perfection of shape and colour and thus, just as one says that a yoghurt pot is empty because there is no yoghurt in it, even though one perceives that it is not empty, one says that Liberation is empty, while it is not [actually] empty. How can one say that it is empty while it has form [rupa]?
The term, ’empty’, is applied to Liberation because it is DEVOID OF the various aspects of the:
- Kleshas [mental afflictions],
- The 25 conventional modes of existence,
- Mundane teachings, observances and arising perceptual domains,
just as the yoghurt jar is devoid of yoghurt.
Just as the form of the jar itself remains immutably, THERE IS regarding [Liberation]:
- Utter Bliss,
- Permanence [nitya],
- Stability / Unshakeability [dhruva],
- Eternity [sasvata],
- Supramundane Dharma, observances and perceptual domains.
Like the form of the jar, Liberation is Permanent, Stable and Eternal;
But the jar will [eventually] get broken, because it is merely established through causal circumstances.
Because Liberation [moksha] is not created [akrta], it will not perish. That which is Liberation is an unfabricated Dhatu [Element], and that is the Tathagata (emphasis added).” (Tibetan version).