"...perceives that all five
skandhas are empty..."
6 of 6

Sunyata, then, carries and permeates all phenomena and makes their development possible. Sunyata is often equated with the absolute in Mahayana, since it is without duality and beyond empirical forms. In quantum physics, ultimate reality is equated with formless energy at the core of the atom. This energy (of physics) or sunyata (of Mahayana) is not a state of mere nothingness but is the very source of all life and the essence of all forms.

Another helpful way to undertand sunyata is through the Zen term of "nowness," sometimes used interchangeably with "momentariness." In the absence of a permanent, abiding substance anywhere, there is only the nowness of things: ephermeral, transitory, momentary. In traditional Buddhist literature, the "nowness" of things is described as tathata or "suchness." The concept of tathata was first formulated by Asvaghosha, another great Buddhist thinker who probably lived a hundred years before Nagarjuna, and influenced him greatly. In Asvaghosha's formulation, when the futility of all conceptual thinking is recognized, reality is experienced as pure "suchness." What is realized in suchness is the existence of form-as-itself (the treeness of the tree, for instance), but that realization is suffused in intuitive wisdom (prajna) so that the ultimate reality of the form is seen as momentary and essentially devoid (sunya) of any lasting substance. Masao Abe, among others, insists that "Emptiness is Suchness."

Lama Angarika Govinda uses the word "transparency" to come to a fuller understanding of sunyata:

If sunyata hints at the nonsubstantiality of the world and the interrelationship of all beings and things, then there can be no better word to describe its meaning than transparency. This word avoids the pitfalls of a pure negation and replaces the concepts of substance, resistance, impenetrability, limitation, and materiality with something that can be experienced and is closely related to the concepts of space and light. quote

He goes on to elaborate,

Far from being the expression of a nihilistic philosophy which denies all reality, it (sunyata) is the logical consequence of the anatman (non-self) doctrine of nonsubstantiality. Sunyata is the emptiness of all conceptual designations and at the same time the recognition of a higher, incommensurable and indefinable reality, which can be experienced only in the state of perfect enlightenment. While we are able to come to an understanding of relativity by way of reasoning, the experience of universality and completeness can be attained only when all conceptual thought, all word-thinking, has come to rest. The realization of the teachings of the Prajna-paramita Sutra can come about only on the path of meditative practice (yogacara), through a transformation of our consciousness. Meditation in this sense is, therefore, no more a search after intellectual solutions or an analysis of worldly phenomena with worldly means--which would merely be moving around in circles--but a breaking out from this circle, an abandoning of our thought-habits in order to "reach the other shore"
(as it has been said not only in the Prajna-paramita-hridaya, but also in the ancient Sutta Nipata of the Pali Canon.) This requires a complete reverseal of our outlook, a complete spiritual transformation or, as the Lankavatara Sutra expresses it, "a turning about in the deepest seat of our consciousness." This reversal brings about a new spiritual outlook, similar to that which the Buddha experienced when returning from the Tree of Enlightenment. A new dimension of consciousness is being opened by this experience, which transcends the limits of mundane
thought. quote