Johnny Dangerous wrote:Emptiness is a non-affirming negation. Someone saying that you cannot find anything outside the 5 skandhas means what it means, there is no underlying implication about anything else, it's just talking about what it is, if you can find something outside the skandhas, go ahead and show us what it is.
What transcends the 5 skandhas can't be shown or objectively measured since it transcends the sensory realm, but it can be known via pure spiritual intuition or our Dharma-eye. Of course no one can do this for you, and that is the meaning of enlightenment.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:The Buddha himself discouraged such definitive statements in either diretion about the ultimate nature of reality.
Buddha did so because he didn't want people to engage in philosophical speculation or get trapped in conceptual thinking about the nature of reality but rather wished for us to realize directly, again with pure intuition, our true nature. If there were no-self, no Absolute, nothing beyond the 5 skandhas, Buddha would have said, "There is no self, there is nothing transcending the skandhas." He didn't though. What he did was use anatta as an adjective while describing the aggregates that comprise the psycho-physical self. This is called an apophatic method or via negativa, which exists in various mystical traditions outside of Buddhism as well.
As Soyen Shaku said,
At the outset, let me state that Buddhism is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience ... To define more exactly the Buddhist notion of the highest being, it may be convenient to borrow the term very happily coined by a modern German scholar, 'panentheism', according to which God is ... all and one and more than the totality of existence .... As I mentioned before, Buddhists do not make use of the term God, which characteristically belongs to Christian terminology. An equivalent most commonly used is Dharmakaya ... When the Dharmakaya is most concretely conceived it becomes the Buddha, or Tathagata
Again, we can also bring up a point I've previously brought up from the Perennialist perspective regarding the entirety of the world's sacred traditions. Either the "no-self and nothing beyond the skandhas" Buddhists are correct and everyone else in the spiritual history of mankind who affirmed the Absolute and our identity with it, including those Buddhists such as Dolpopa mentioned who maintained the same (and Gautama as well), are wrong, or the no-self Buddhists are the ones in error. Seems highly likely that the latter is the case.