"Nada vs sunyata." The Notion of Emptiness in John of the Cross and in Zen Buddhism

Rafał Sergiusz Niziński

Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań , Poland
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3566-0861


Abstract

It is not seldom that some authors try to compare the doctrine of Zen Buddhism with the doc­trine of Saint John of the Cross with the intention of finding some parallels. The most striking similarity seems to be the term “emptiness” (nada – John of the Cross and sunyata – Zen Buddhism). The difficulty of the comparison stems from the fact that in both cases this term has an experiential meaning, i.e. it de­scribes subjective feelings one has while following the spiritual path. Therefore, the intent of the paper is to capture the metaphysical and epistemological meaning of this term in order to facilitate the com­parison. This effort has led to the conclusion that in both doctrines the essentially different meaning of emptiness reflects their different understanding of the ultimate reality. Consequently, meditational techniques which both forms of spirituality adopted to achieve the ultimate reality exclude each other, and the semantic proximity of Zen Buddhism and John of the Cross is misleading.

Keywords:

God, ultimate reality, contemplation, nothingness, mystical experience, Zen Buddhism, John of the Cross

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Published
2022-06-10


Niziński, R. S. (2022). "Nada vs sunyata." The Notion of Emptiness in John of the Cross and in Zen Buddhism. Verbum Vitae, 40(2), 423–445. https://doi.org/10.31743/vv.13271

Rafał Sergiusz Niziński  sergiusz@amu.edu.pl
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Fr. Rafał S. Niziński, a discalced Carmelite, a professor at the Department of Philosophy and Dialogue of the Faculty of Theology, Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań. He deals with the philosophy of God. His research focuses on God: his nature, principles of knowing and mystically experiencing God, and concerns such thinkers as Ch. Hartshorne, St Thomas Aquinas, B. Spinoza, K. Barth, X. Zubiri, St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Jesus.

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3566-0861



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