空 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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kōng 空

Śūnyatā / Emptiness

本义为缺失,指事物没有恒常不变的本质或事物虚妄不实。独立持存的本质,被称为“自性”(svabhāva)。佛教否认这种本质的存在,而认为一切世间现象都是因缘条件的聚散,“自性”仅仅是概念思维对现象世界的固化。“无自性”(nihsvabhāva),即“空”的观点在大乘佛教当中尤为突出,它彻底否定了任何名言所指的永真性,甚至包括佛教教义本身。

The basic meaning of this term is voidness. It denotes that things do not have a constant or unchanging essence. It also means that things are illusory, not real. The essence of something independently existing is called “own-being,” or “svabhāva.” Buddhism denies the existence of this kind of essence. Instead, it believes that all worldly phenomena are assembled or dispersed by causes and conditions. “Own-being” is just the solidification of conceptual thinking vis-à-vis the phenomenal world. “Absence of own-being,” or “nihsvabhāva,” namely the viewpoint of “emptiness,” is particularly prominent within the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna) sect of Buddhism. It completely denies any permanent real nature summarized in any term or phrase, going as far as to include the doctrine of Buddhism itself.

引例 Citation:

◎众缘具足和合而物生,是物属众因缘故无自性。无自性故空,空亦复空,但为引导众生故,以假名说。(《中论》卷四)

(各种条件具备从而产生的事物,其实依赖众多条件而存在,所以没有独立的自性。因为没有自性,所以说是“空”,而所谓“空”本身也是不实在的,只是为了引导众生而借用一个假名言说而已。)

The birth of things depends on various conditions. Because things depend on their causes and conditions, they are without own-being. Because they are without own-being, they are void. Further, voidness itself is not real. Instead, one gives an explanation with a presumed term so as to give guidance to the beings. (Discourse About the Middle)

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