International Studies in Philosophy Monograph Series


The Gift of Self

Stephen David Ross
Pages 233-268

Empty Self

Zen-Buddhist nothingness is the nowhere is there something that is I, or conversely: the I that is the nowhere is there something. (Hisamatsu, FN, 25-26; quoted and trans. in Stambaugh, FS, 76) ... it is empty of being. That means that it is beyond all measure .... ... it is empty without emptiness. That means that it does not cling to itself. ... it possesses nothing. That means that it doesn't possess and also cannot be possessed. (Hisamatsu, FN, 31; quoted and trans. in Stambaugh, FS, 77-8) The emptiness of what is called "emptiness" is referred to as "the emptiness of emptiness" (ʼsūnyatāʼsūnyatā), and it is explained in this way for the purpose of controverting any understanding of emptiness as a[n ontological reference to] "being." (Candrakīrti, EMW, 180) A skillful Zen student will strive to be awakened to an identity with all phenomena, the student him- or herself empty and continually changing as the phenomena come forth. (Codiga, ZPSP, 108) Zen practice is a means for the enlightenment of bushes and grasses, an activity that has no beginning or end in the vastness of any empty universe. (p. 110)