Early Buddhist Traditions

The early schools of Buddhism in India between 100 to 500 years after the Buddha's nirvana, having in common their doctrinal basis in the Agamas and the Abhidharma literatures.

Eighteen Realms

The realms of consciousness, consisting of the six sense organs (eyes, ear, nose, tongue, body, and discriminating mind), plus the six sense objects (shape and color; sound; smells; tastes; form; thoughts, feelings, and symbols), plus the six sense consciousnesses (seeing, hearing, smelling; tasting, feeling, thinking).

EIightfold Noble Path

The fourth of the Four Noble Truths; the concepts and practices the Buddha taught his disciples to carry out in order to escape from all suffering. The eight categories of this “path” include correct, perfected, or “right”: (1) view, (2) aspiration, (3) speech, (4) action, (5) livelihood, (6) effort, (7) mindfulness, and (8) concentration.


A mental event during which one perceives reality as it truly is and which transforms one’s mind;


Lacking something. See emptiness. 2. (kōng[qù] 空[去]) v. To perceive the emptiness of; to dissolve away conceptions of. (In non-Buddhist English, the adjective empty means “containing nothing.” In Buddhist English, the word often means something like “containing no substance or essence.”)


. The condition of lacking something. What is lacking depends on context. Emptiness generally signifies the lack of a substantial, unchanging, permanently non suffering self in individuals or the lack of self-nature in dharmas. Yet there are different referents to this definition of the word. For instance, according to the Chinese scholar-monk Yin-shun, Yogācārins label ultimate reality (that is, the “perfected aspect” of reality [yuánchéng shíxìng 圓成實性]) “emptiness” not because it is in fact empty, but rather because this reality manifests when the empty nature of the constructed aspect of reality (piànjì suoˇzhí xìng 遍計所執性) is perceived. Yin-shun also distinguishes another meaning of emptiness: for the Tathāgatagarbha school, emptiness means that one’s pure mind or buddha-nature is empty of defilements (see Yin-shun 995, 24–27). For a similar but slightly differing analysis of the meanings of emptiness in English, see Williams 998 and Williams 2000, 3–66.

2. The lacking of something when regarded as a property of something else.

3. Ultimate reality or truth; a synonym of Suchness. (Sometimes translated “voidness,” but emptiness better indicates that “something is missing.” Using the word voidness could lead people to conclude that Buddhism teaches that “nothing exists in any sense of the word ‘exist’ at all,” which is not a Buddhist view.)

Empty Nature Mere Name System

A term coined by Yin-shun (1906–2005) for the Madhyamaka school of thought in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Yin-shun believed that this school, which teaches that all dharmas are empty of inherent nature, expresses ultimate truth directly. In his opinion, other views that imply a certain dharma or dharmas possess inherent nature are only skillful means of the Buddha, designed to reach sentient beings who would otherwise be unreceptive to Buddhist teachings (Yin-shun 1998, 302–27). (Compare with False Imagination Mere Consciousness system and Truly Eternal Mere Mind system.)