Twenty kinds of emptiness

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Twenty kinds of emptiness (T. stong pa nyid nyi shu སྟོང་པ་ཉིད་ཉི་ཤུ་) are differentiated by Candrakīrti in his Introduction to the Middle Way (Madhyamakāvatāra).[1] These are also listed by Mipham Rinpoche in his Gateway to Knowledge [22:61 to 22:65].

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso states:

Actually, within emptiness itself there are no distinctions between different types of emptiness because emptiness’ true nature transcends all concepts that differentiate between one thing and another. Therefore, from the perspective of genuine reality, emptiness cannot actually be divided into twenty different categories or classifications. When the Buddha taught the twenty emptinesses, however, he did so from the perspective of the twenty different types of phenomena whose various appearances we cling to as being truly existent. Going through the twenty emptinesses helps us to free ourselves from this clinging step by step. The first sixteen emptinesses are the extensive presentation, and these are then summarized into four. Studying Nagarjuna’s reasonings makes the twenty emptinesses easy to understand, and at that point Chandrakirti’s verses will be a great help to your meditation practice.
You can use these verses to practice analytical meditation by reciting the verses describing a particular emptiness and using the logical reasonings Nagarjuna presents to help you come to certainty in the verses’ meaning, and then practice resting meditation by simply resting in that certainty that your analysis has produced. You can repeat this process as many times as you like. Machig Labdrön, the greatest woman practitioner in the history of Tibet, taught her students to meditate on the twenty emptinesses in this way as a method to help them realize prajñāpāramitā, the transcendent wisdom that realizes emptiness, that is called the Great Mother of all enlightened beings.[1]

The twenty types of emptiness are:[2][3]

1-16) the sixteen kinds of emptiness
The last four emptinesses are a summary of the first sixteen. The first two of the four include all the phenomena in apparent reality and the latter two include everything in genuine reality.[4]
17) the emptiness of a thing (Skt. bhava ṡūnyatā; T .དངོས་པོ་སྟོང་པ་ཉིད།)
18) the emptiness of non-thing (Skt. abhāva ṡūnyatā; T. དངོས་པོ་མེད་པ་སྟོང་པ་ཉིད།)
19) the emptiness of self-nature (Skt. svabhāva ṡūnyatā; T. རང་གི་ངོ་བོ་སྟོང་པ་ཉིད།)
20) the emptiness of other-nature (Skt. parabhava ṡūnyatā; T. བཞན་གྱི་ངོ་བོ་སྟོང་པ་ཉིད།)

See also



External links