Traditional Mahayana Buddhist teachings emphasize the importance of understanding emptiness — the absence of independent substantiality of phenomena — through contemplative study and practice. Contemplative practices are becoming more widely integrated into the fields of education and clinical training. While self-report methodologies for assessing mindfulness have allowed researchers to quantify some of the changes that come with mindfulness and meditation practice, the field of contemplative studies can further benefit from measures sensitive to the subtle experiences that come with ongoing meditation and mindfulness practice, including those associated with the realization of emptiness. This paper presents a new measure, the Contemplative Emptiness Scale, including reliability, validity, factor structure, and psychometric data from a six-year study of experienced meditators. This measure allows researchers to study important expressions of emptiness experience, including awareness of self-clinging and compassionate engagement — qualities especially relevant to contemplative education and to the helping professions — with profound implications for contemplative studies.

MacAndrew Jack, PhD

Naropa University

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Abigail Lindemann

University of Wisconsin, Madison

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