Everything that exists is empty because there is no essence to anything and nothing has ever exists in its own quality – nothing is permanent and unchanging. All objects exist conditionally without an eternal essence. They only exist in relation to each other as appearances that in turn vary as per the perceptions of the beholders.
Energy is the underlying element for all existence and it is dependent on conditional phenomenon. And phenomenon is thing that appears to or is perceived by senses and therefore, it is empty as well.
At the end of the day, we could summarise that emptiness is the beginning for all existence. Every existence is empty and emptiness is in every existence.
From direct experience, we know that humans and things cause pleasure and pain, and that they can help and harm. Therefore, phenomena certainly do exist but the question is how? They do not exist in their own quality but only have an existence dependent upon many factors, including a consciousness that conceptualises them.
But in what way is consciousness mistaken? Because all phenomena appear to exist in their own quality, all of our ordinary perceptions are mistaken. We have taken in a wrong sense that living beings, things and phenomena appear to exist in and of themselves. It seems that phenomena could be established in their own right or quality, and from the object’s side upon conceptualising our consciousness. Unfortunately, with this false mode, we are hindering ourselves from recognising the discrepancy between appearance and reality.
Nevertheless, one could train oneself to develop wisdom and eliminate one’s ignorance on the ultimate truth. Upon seeking through in-depth analysis, one could find inherent existence of whatever object one is considering — oneself, another person, one’s body, one’s mind, or anything else is completely lacking.
For example, when you examine an object such as car, its inherent existence is negated, but what is left is a body dependent on an engine, seats, lamps, window glasses, tires, etc. In other words, what is left after the analysis is a dependently existent phenomenon. Thus it is not that you come to understand that the object or phenomenon does not exist but rather, you find that its inherent existence is unfounded. This is the ultimate discovery about the orientation of the nature. Nature is a system of existence fully occupied with factors that rise and fall dependently in continuum.
At the end of the day, dualism of the subject and object, and the appearance of multiplicity arises out of our ignorance on the true nature would vanish once emptiness appears. We could then differentiate the way things are perceived to exist and the way things really exist.
Why is there an existence at all? Why not nothingness?
Emptiness is a necessary pre-requisite for any object to exist; without it, the object would be impossible. Upon in-depth analysis, we could discover that emptiness corresponds to two distinct scenarios:
1. It corresponds to the inherent existence (due to unchanging nature) that all conventional phenomena lack.
2. It corresponds to dependent arising (a conditional phenomenon) i.e. subject to the same lack of inherent existence as every other object or phenomenon. This is referred to as the emptiness of emptiness.
The above is a rather strange paradox but still logical because emptiness is a universal or infinite phenomenon. Therefore, it is evident that object could arise out of emptiness due to the 2nd scenario clarified as above.
As a summary, the emptiness of phenomena is both the cause and consequence of the dependent nature of phenomena. It is comparable to scientific term of a singularity and also the beginning of the nature or existence. In other words, emptiness is an inherent quality of existence and is considered the ultimate truth because it inherently exists exactly as it is perceived when it is perceived directly by an enlightened mind. And discovering the ‘ultimate truth’ is the key to overcoming the ignorant state of mind.
~ Ignorance triumphs when wise men do nothing ~