Therefore the teachings on karma and rebirth are applicable to the pre-enlightenment state and are not ultimately ‘real’ as they disappear with the realisation of profound emptiness. It is debatable that the Pali Suttas are ‘Hinayanic’, as all Mahayana thought clearly exists within their construct.
The philosophical notion of ‘emptiness’ is a core teaching of Buddhism, found within both its Pali and Sanskrit texts (i.e. ‘suttas’ and ‘sutras’, etc.). The
For the Buddha, delusion generates itself in cycles of endless repetition. Causes lead to consequences, and this systems appears to transmit itself from one birth to the next. However, this should not be interpreted in a theistic or mystical fashion. Whatever the Buddha is referring to, it can not be obvious reincarnation favoured by certain religious theories, as the Buddha fundamentally rejects such notions in his teachings. Rebirth and karma, as used by the Buddha, appear to be a method of interpretation that avoids the trap of gross materialism, whilst using the rational mind.
‘To understand this developmental process, an assessment of ‘emptiness’ (sunyata) must be undertaken. It is clear that in early Buddhism emptiness refers to the lack of the presence of greed, hatred and delusion, as well the abandonment of the notion of a permanent self. It is an emptiness that marks the absence of delusion. Delusion is no longer present in the mind or perceived in the environment (in relation to the mind). The mind does not create the conditions that lead to the desire of external entities or attachment to those entities. It is true that no further karma is produced but that the karma relating to the world and the physical body continues until it is fully burnt off (at the point of death), and there is no more re-birth. The nirvanic state has present within it certain powers of the mind, and perfected knowledge. This concept of nirvana exists as an escape from the physical world of samsara. It is viewed very much as an antidote to the suffering experienced within ordinary life.’