Nagarjuna's Nothingness/ Sunyata shows that nothing is real by nature/ Swabhavsunya but that Everything is illusory/ Mayopma, merely an Image/ Pratibimbopma.
Man is not the dependent creature of a real, hard world of nature. He is the detached spectator and critic of a magical show, a world of Images.
This transformation of the point of view towards the world and the self has certain parallel to what happens in the aesthetic experience & Creation. There too, real objects/ Lokikvishaya become ideal/ Aalamban within the imaginative experience/ Alokikpratiti . Both in the spiritual vision of Nothingsness/ Sunyata and the aesthetic/ creative vision, the object is an Image/ Pratibimb and the subject detached from the actual ego.
Though both have an axiological dimension, the primary context for Sunyata is cognitive while that for art is emotive. Since the understanding of Sunyata moves from dualistic cognition towards a non-dualistic vision and act from mere emotion to its deeper stirrings of truth and value, here too the two domains are not wholly apart. In religious Art especially, the philosophical vision of Sunyata and imagination of image making, the two can be complementary.
Santarakshita described Pratityasamutpad or as 'similar to an image'/ Pratibimbadisannibham. This may be compared to Sankaku's description of the Art object as an Image which appears vividly but is neither true nor false.
Editing: Rajula Shah Images: Rajula & Arghya Basu Text: R. Gnoli