Nagarjuna's Sunyata: Beyond Being and Nothingness

Śūnyatā has been one of the most misunderstood terms in the history of philosophy. It has been conceived sometimes as an Absolute and sometimes as pure nothingness. Often it has been identified with truth and most often it has been understood as falsity. Traditionalists insist that it is beyond all the categories. On the other hand the same people would say that Śūnyatā is not a transcendent reality. It is just the relativity of all phenomena, the emptiness of all entities. My purpose in the present paper is to ascertain the true import of Śūnyatā. My view is that Śūnyatā is neither Being nor Nothingness. It is beyond all the dichotomies of real and unreal, being and non-being. This does not mean that Nāgārjuna is presenting a new revolutionary ontology quite different from the traditional logic or metaphysics. In fact Logic and Metaphysics are the last concern of the Buddha. Nāgārjuna neither refutes any metaphysics nor presents any new one. He just puts everything as it is and evokes us to be just in tuned with it. By proving all the dharmas (phenomena) empty of their own independent existence and essence he calls us to enter the realm of Dharmatā and Tathatā.


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