(© RKP, 1963)
Let us be clear about this and express it in our occidental manner of speech, and try to see what exactly is this idea of a void - for it is an idea like any other.
The phenomenal, objective, relative world of sense-impressions is an interpretation by divided and reasoning mind (which operates by a comparison of opposites) of noumenon, the absolute, subject, none of which (if you regard them as different in any way or as aspects of one whole) it is able directly to perceive. And the contrary, with which everything here in question is to be identified, is called Emptiness. As the Void it is the counterpart of Plenum, and all these qualities, these dharmas, treated as though they were 'things', are therefore elements in that plenitude. A void, however, is a total negative. If you think of Reality or Being, as you are taught to do, you are assuming something positive, and each of these positives is inevitably accompanied by its negative, which we have to term Non-reality and Non-being. It is this negative that is the Void or Emptiness, and that negative implies its constituent plenum, so that this Void, being that which is not, is also that which appears to be, i.e. Non-manifestation manifested - which is the phenomenal and apparent universe or Samsara.
This surely is the real message of these sutras - that our intuition must apprehend the negative reality of the Void in order to comprehend that its positive element is Appearance, and that thus, and not the other way round, must they be seen if their identity is to be assimilated and not merely assumed.
Note: Re dharmas, 'Their true nature is a no-nature, and their no-nature is their true nature; for all dharmas have one mark only, i.e. no mark ... for there are not two natures of dharma, but just one single is the nature of all dharmas. And the true nature of all dharmas is a no-nature, and their no-nature is their true nature. It is thus that all points of possible attachment are abandoned.' (Prajnaparamita Sutra, cited by Dr. Edward Conze in his 'Diamond Sutra' p. 36.)
'This Dharma, i.e. the ultimate reality in both its objective and subjective form....' (Op. cit., p. 37.)
The 'real' nature of all manifestation is no-nature, and of all ideas of 'reality' and of being - for all such are concepts or dharmas. They are directly negative or void, and only indirectly positive and relative.