(Shunyata in Sanskrit, Sunnata in Pali, Wu in Chinese, Ku in Japanese)
A central concept in Buddhism and Taoism. Emptiness, nothingness or the void permeates
all phenomena and makes their development possible. It is, according to the BuddhaNet
Glossary, 'the ultimate meaning of all things as a result of the three "features
of existence," suffering, impermanence, and no-soul'. A MultiFaithNet introduction
to Key Buddhist Beliefs says that 'Shunyata (Voidness or Emptiness) is a concept
of great importance in the Mahayana tradition where the idea of anatman or no-self
has undergone further development. In the Mahayana view, all that exists is devoid
of any abiding essence, and "empty" of any ultimate characteristics.
To understand this is to recognise the ultimately fluid and inter-connected nature
of all phenomena. The deep realisation of shunyata is believed to end fear'.
Letting go of fear opens the heart and mind to Karuna (in Sanskrit and Pali),
meaning compassion, which is, of course, equivalent to Agape, the Greek word for
selfless, unconditional, unlimited Love (often translated as Charity, from the
Latin Caritas): the 'love of God'. So, although the West has tended to fill the
void (the 'God-shaped hole') with God, there is no essential conflict or contradiction
between the teachings of East and West. The superficial doctrines may differ,
but the underlying Truth is the same.