Nebulosity vs. Pattern

“Emptiness” is a crucial concept in all Buddhisms.  In Theravada Buddhism Emptiness is a cultivated insight, in Mahayana Buddhism it the fuel of meditation.  Emptiness is contrasted with “Form”.  Above are qualities associated with both of these perspectives as delineated by the Aro tradition– A Vajrayāna sect.  I find these qualities useful to aid my understanding of the use of the terms.

Emptiness carries many undesirable connotations in English so that David Chapman has offered “Nebulosity” as a translation, which I enjoy.  He then describes “Form” as “Pattern”.



  1. Ed

    Hello Sabio… I like the form of this website very much. It’s Emptiness, on the other hand is… well, nebulous. :-}
    I too have struggled in the past with the concept of Emptiness. In my lineage of Zen practice it is central. Finally I “got it”… non-verbally at first. Then I could express it in words like this: “Emptiness is full. Of Everything.”

  2. Hello Ed,
    Thank you — glad you like the form — nebulosity I save for personal encounters!

  3. Earnest

    I have two new favorite words: nebulousness and patternicity! Great site, looking forward to learning more about Tibetan traditions etc.

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