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Nothingness in Chinese / Japanese...

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Nothingness

kōng wú
kuu mu
Nothingness Scroll

空無 is "nothingness" in a Buddhist context.

The first character means empty but can also mean air or sky (air and sky have no form).

The second character means have not, no, none, not or to lack.

Together these characters reinforce each other into a word that means "absolute nothingness".

I know this is a term used in Buddhism but I have not yet figured out the context in which it is used. I suppose it can be the fact that Buddhists believe that the world in a non-real illusion, or perhaps it's about visualizing yourself as "nothing" and therefore leaving behind your desire and worldliness.
Buddhist concepts and titles often have this element of ambiguity or rather "mystery". Therefore, such ideas can have different meanings to different people, and that's okay. If you don't get it right in this lifetime, as there will be plenty more lifetimes to master it (whatever "it" is, and if "it" really exists at all).

Soothill defines this as "Unreality, or immateriality, of things, which is defined as nothing existing of independent or self-contained nature".

Nothing / Nothingness

mu
Nothing / Nothingness Scroll

無 is the simple way to express "nothing".

However, this single character leaves a bit of mystery as to what you might really mean if you hang it as a wall scroll. I'm not saying that's a bad thing; as you can decide what it means to you, and you won't be wrong if you stay within the general context.

More info: 無 is usually used as a suffix or prefix for Chinese and Japanese words (also old Korean). It can be compared to "un-" or "-less" in English. It can also mean "not to have", no, none, not, "to lack", or nothingness.

Nothingness / Empty / Void

xū kōng
kokuu
Nothingness / Empty / Void Scroll

虛空 means empty space, empty sky, or void.

In the Buddhist context, it can mean "emptiness of the material world". This can also be used as an adjective to modify other words with a meaning of unreal or insubstantial.

Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)
kōng
kuu / kara / sora / ron
Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality Scroll

This single character means empty, void, hollow, vacant, vacuum, blank, nonexistent, vacuity, voidness, emptiness, non-existence, immateriality, unreality, the false or illusory nature of all existence, being unreal.

In Buddhist context, this relates to the doctrine that all phenomena and the ego have no reality but are composed of a certain number of skandhas or elements, which disintegrate. The void, the sky, space. The universal, the absolute, complete abstraction without relativity. The doctrine further explains that all things are compounds, or unstable organisms, possessing no self-essence, i.e. are dependent, or caused, come into existence only to perish. The underlying reality, the principle of eternal relativity, or non-infinity, i.e. śūnya, permeates all phenomena making possible their evolution.

From Sanskrit and/or Pali, this is the translation to Chinese and Japanese of the title śūnya or śūnyatā.

In Japanese, when pronounced as "ron" (sounds like "roan") this can be a given name. It should be noted that this Kanji has about 5 different possible pronunciations in Japanese: kuu, kara, sora, ron, and uro. 空 is also an element in the Japanese version of the five elements.

Sky / Air / Ether / Space

tiān kōng
ten kuu
Sky / Air / Ether / Space Scroll

天空 means sky in most context but it can also refer to air, space, the heavens, or ether.


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Nothingness空無
空无
kuu mu / kuumu / ku mu / kumukōng wú / kong1 wu2 / kong wu / kongwuk`ung wu / kungwu / kung wu
Nothing
Nothingness

muwú / wu2 / wu
Nothingness
Empty
Void
虛空
虚空
kokuu / kokuxū kōng / xu1 kong1 / xu kong / xukonghsü k`ung / hsükung / hsü kung
Sky
Ether
Void
Emptiness
Unreality
kuu / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
kōng / kong1 / kongk`ung / kung
Sky
Air
Ether
Space
天空ten kuu / tenkuu / ten ku / tenkutiān kōng
tian1 kong1
tian kong
tiankong
t`ien k`ung
tienkung
tien kung
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.



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Sky / Air / Ether / Space Scroll
Sky / Air / Ether / Space Scroll
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Sky / Air / Ether / Space Vertical Portrait
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