(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.