Selflessness of phenomena

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Selflessness of phenomena (Skt. dharmanairātmya; Tib. ཆོས་ཀྱི་བདག་མེད་, chö kyi dakmé, Wyl. chos kyi bdag med) — the absence of any intrinsic identity in dharmas, i.e., things and events. See also selflessness of the individual.

Selflessness of Phenomena in the Lower Yanas

The great Sakya scholar Gorampa Sonam Senge says the selflessness of phenomena was taught in the Shravakayana, but it was not taught clearly, extensively or completely.

  1. It was not taught clearly, meaning that there are only statements such as, ‘Form is like bubbles of water, sensations are like foam.’ This is not as clear as the Mahayana teachings such as, ‘Form is empty of form.’
  2. It was not taught extensively, meaning that only the phenomena included within the continuum of one’s own aggregates were taught to be empty. By contrast, the Mahayana taught the twenty kinds of emptiness.
  3. It was not taught completely, meaning that whilst there were teachings on the insubstantiality of one’s own aggregates, this only serves as an antidote to the extreme of existence. Unlike those of the Mahayana, such teachings do not address the absence of all four extremes.

Further Reading