The Buddha never argued that the physical world does not exist, even if he acknowledged that all material constructs that come together are changeable and impermanent.
As the Mahayana Buddhist tradition adheres to the Buddha’s teaching of ‘anatman’, or ‘non-self’, this term cannot be used to refer to a permanent self, or ‘soul’. T
Within the received chain of dependent origination (paticca-samuppāda), the Buddha uses the term ‘namo-rupa’ or ‘mind-body’ – to explain that these two otherwise distinctive entities are inherently ‘linked’ or ‘entwined’ at source, and within his schematic of interpreting reality, cannot be considered ‘separate’ in any manner.
‘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.’