Emptiness is an important concept in Buddhism, but also a common topic of scholars and lay enthusiasts. As a result, there is much confusion, misinterpretation and misunderstanding around it. It is therefore not surprising, that the Buddhist statement that “everything is empty” triggers various reactions in common people. These responses range from disbelief to mystical or academic interpretations, to fear based on the assumption that emptiness denies existence and expresses purely nihilistic views.
However, emptiness of Form does not mean that nothing exists or that everything (including living beings) should be equated with Nothingness. Rather, it means that Forms contain infinite traits, meanings, qualities, movements and values. Unfortunately, these infinite possibilities remain mostly unexplored. Due to conditioning and bound by illusion of impermanence, majority of people are unaware of their own potential and cling to a restricted portion of available options. This creates rigid identities (i.e. nationality, race, gender, social position etc.) that are sustained by the Ego, which strongly opposes any change, especially when it leads to the rejection of its own construct.
The unwillingness to accept that everything is in a permanent and unstoppable change, roots in difficulty to accept that the artificial entity that you call Self is essentially an empty vessel filled with accumulated memories and content of one's own mind. The problem arises from the fact that when the empty nature of the Self is accepted, one has to accept that one is also responsible for the retained or created content, and that the choice of content can be perceived either as a curse or as a chance.
Nevertheless, without insight into one's own nature, the choice of features to which you cling is limited to these already conditioned. Conditioning is largely fueled by the Ego, which sees “tested” and familiar strategies as a safer choice and classifies everything else as carriers of potential hazards that could jeopardise its existence. This will solidify your chosen identity, constrain your potential and ultimately separate you from your own nature. Something that began as a self-preserving mechanism turns into walls that label all the unknown a potential danger and resist any change that can shift boundaries. It sets a stage for your suffering.
Once the emptiness of your own nature is realized, rigid identification loosens and you can expand beyond it. As a result, impermanence will be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat, and resistance to change will ease its grip. Without resistance, anxiety and suffering will subside, allowing you to explore and use your potential freely.
However, this cannot be achieved through the cognitive power of the intellect, but by shedding one's own mind and body, by loosening the grasp of the Ego, and becoming emptiness yourself.