Nagarjuna Quote on Emptiness


Nagarjuna Statue in Scotland

“Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves.”

Here we are introduced to the concept of “mutual dependence” or “interdependence” of everything. Some translations use the word “emptiness” in that it is empty of a inherent existence, not the empty void of nihilism.

In essence, everything is dependent on everything else for its illusory existence.

But illusory doesn’t mean there is no point to existence and that we can do whatever we want without consequence (or karma).  This is not a nihilistic view or is it an idealist view.

We are in fact bound together with everyone and everything including enlightened beings, all sentient beings, and what we call reality itself in this eternal moment of Now.

On a final note, I find it interesting that science is coming to the same conclusions reached by the Buddha about 2800 years ago regarding the nature of reality, especially in the field of quantum physics and it’s fascinating to watch that unfold before our eyes.

For example,  Quantum entanglement of every electron with every other electron is similar in essence to “mutual dependence”.

Recording by Buddhist teacher Robert Thurman on Nagarjuna


May you and I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings!!!

If you would please share your thoughts or insights on “mutual dependence” also known as “interdependence of all things”.

I look forward to a very interesting discussion!

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9 Responses to Nagarjuna Quote on Emptiness

  1. Heather Grace says:

    Interesting article. When you really think about it all things do depend on all others for existence. When I read your first few sentences the first thought was the age old “if the tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” I am not sure where my stance is on it but it certainly gives me something to think about.

    The pod cast was great by the way!

    • Ian H says:

      Thanks! The tree hears itself fall, perhaps? I love Bob Thurman’s podcast, he really can communicate the Buddha’s teachings in a way that the Western mind can understand and he does it with humor and joy. 🙂

  2. Stephen says:

    Ah yes! I also believe we are all bound together! Everyone and everything. This was a great read. Science adding to this philosophy only solidifies my beliefs. I think if more people would understand this concept, it would be a much friendlier earth. Thanks so much for sharing this. I’ll be visiting your site often.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks! And yes I agree that if people understood then it would reduce many of the problems we face today. I think the Dalai Lama also said something to that effect as well.

      Quantum physics and Buddhism have a lot in common and the Dalai Lama is actively participating in those discussions. One awesome book on that is called “The Quantum and the Lotus” which you can find in my e-store.

  3. Ian H says:

    Sorry I meant to type Stephen, not Steven.

  4. Andrea says:

    Namaste Ian

    “we are one” always been denigrated to the level of a hippy concept, which it was but then evolved.

    As you say.finally science, start to unfold quite fast, i have to say, the principle of oneness.

    In my researches i found out that scientists using both hemispheres of the brain are powerful tools to the propagation .of knowledge + wisdom, which by the way many of them later on joined Buddhism.

    So today there are more choices, someone can opt for a Buddhist approach about connection to the universe, or being catch by the fabulous quantum field.

    I am right in the middle and i am loving it.


    • Ian H says:

      Namaste Andrea,

      Yes, it’s certainly an exciting time to be alive at this point in history when the science of East and West meet. The hippie movement certainly drew on Eastern philosophy. And even more exciting is that this fundmental oneness has been proven by experiment where it is called “quantum entanglement” which is similar to the Buddhist teaching of interdependence and dependent origination. In Buddhism you also find a concept similar to general relativity but with respect to causes and conditions of phenomena.

  5. Xaric says:

    The amount of knowledge that is lost throughout the ages is enormous.

    Just by observing and being open, people used to attain great knowledge, without the use of physical evidence. I find this to be extraordinary.

    I believe that as everything is interconnected inside our bodies and on earth, so is inside the cosmos. As above,so bellow. The universe is not just a spontaneous random creation. It is built on a specific blueprint.

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