If you read this famous sutra with quotation marks in it, you will understand it better.
Avalokiteshvara isn't saying that nothing exists at all.
He's saying that things don't exist like this:
Things are not solid, constantly present, aggressively “there.”
Objects are more like this:
That includes you. Buddhism isn't saying you don't exist. Just that you don't exist in the way you think a twitter avatar should look.
Once you get over putting the world into boxes, what happens? You don't space out into nothing. You don't find yourself in an undifferentiated goo.
You become intimate with actual things as they are.
You go out of your mind insofar as you get out of your head and back down to earth, right into earth.
See that? Dude is touching the earth. Legend has it that he spent a week thanking the tree under which he was sitting.
Hey I learned a new word this week: ECOSEXUAL. Expect me to use it a lot.
I think thanking a tree for a week falls into the ecosexual range don't you?
Meditation is intimacy.
The Prajnaparamita Sutra in twenty-five lines. (There are various versions.)
Translated into Tibetan by Lotsawa bhikshu Rinchen De with the Indian pandita Vimalamitra. Translated into English by the Nalanda Translation Committee, with reference to several Sanskrit editions.
The Sutra of the Heart of Transcendent Knowledge.
Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One was dwelling in Rajagriha at Vulture Peak mountain, together with a great gathering of the sangha of monks and a great gathering of the sangha of bodhisattvas. At that time the Blessed One entered the samadhi that expresses the dharma called “profound illumination,”
[basically Siddhartha telepathically transmitted something to a student of his]
and at the same time noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, while practicing the profound prajnaparamita, saw in this way: he saw the five skandhas to be empty of nature.
Then, through the power of the Buddha, venerable Shariputra said to noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, “How should a son or daughter of noble family train, who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita?”
Addressed in this way, noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, said to venerable Shariputra, “O Shariputra, a son or daughter of noble family who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita should see in this way: seeing the five skandhas to be empty of nature.
“Form” is “emptiness”; “emptiness” also is “form.” “Emptiness” is no other than “form”; “form” is no other than “emptiness.”
In the same way, “feeling,” “perception,” “formation,” and “consciousness” are emptiness. Thus, Shariputra, all dharmas [reality according to normative constructs] are emptiness. There are no “characteristics.” There is no “birth” and no “cessation.” There is no “impurity” and no “purity.” There is no “decrease” and no “increase.”
Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness, there is no “form,” no “feeling,” no “perception,” no “formation,” no “consciousness”; no “eye,” no “ear,” no “nose,” no “tongue,” no “body,” no “mind”; no “appearance,” no “sound,” no “smell,” no “touch,” no “taste,” no “dharmas”; no “eye dhatu” up to no “mind dhatu,” no “dhatu of dharmas,” no “mind consciousness dhatu”; no “ignorance”, no “end of ignorance” up to no “old age and death,” no “end of old age and death”; no “suffering,” no “origin of suffering,” no “cessation of suffering,” no “path,” no “wisdom,” no “attainment,” and no “non attainment.”
[I cried when I first chanted this in a group. I certainly didn't dissolve into nothing. Cried with relief cos you don't have to hold on to concepts in your head.]
Therefore, Shariputra, since the bodhisattvas have no “attainment,” they abide by means of prajnaparamita. Since there is no obscuration of mind, there is no fear.
[oh boy that is my favorite sentence of all]
They transcend falsity and attain complete nirvana. All the buddhas of the three times, by means of prajnaparamita, fully awaken to unsurpassable, true, complete enlightenment.
Therefore, the great mantra of prajnaparamita, the mantra of great insight, the unsurpassed mantra, the unequalled mantra, the mantra that calms all suffering, should be known as truth, since there is no deception.
The prajnaparamita mantra is said in this way:
OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA
[OH GONE GONE GONE BEYOND TOTALLY GONE BEYOND AWAKE SO BE IT]
Thus, Shariputra, the bodhisattva mahasattva should train in the profound prajnaparamita.”
Then the Blessed One arose from that samadhi and praised noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, saying, “Good, good, O son of noble family; thus it is, O son of noble family, thus it is.
[It's awesome how we get a glimpse of what might have been Siddhartha's turn of phrase there; something of a repetition freak. He's into rhythm.]
One should practice the profound prajnaparamita just as you have taught and all the tathagatas will rejoice.”
When the Blessed One had said this, venerable Shariputra and noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, that whole assembly and the world with its gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas rejoiced and praised the words of the Blessed One.
[Gandharvas are musicians. Basically there was a gigantic rave.]
I was lucky enough to stumble across the sutra yesterday in something I was reading. Hope this has helped understand it.