Many people seem to think that the teaching is emptiness is perhaps only for intellectual exercise. They think that talks about emptiness are for those who study Buddhism academically and have little to do with practice.
However, emptiness is at the heart of practice. Your practice won’t go anywhere without realization of emptiness, and in fact fully knowing emptiness is the mark of your practice. It is the ‘benchmark’ that tells if your practice has reached the intended goal or not.
The Buddha taught that there are three main components of practice — morality (or Sila), concentration, and wisdom. Without morality, concentration is not possible, and without concentration, wisdom is not possible. There can be no concentration without morality because if you live a very sinful life then your mind will be scattered too much and you will be distracted by all the immoral things you are doing, so it is not possible to concentrate at all. The mind that is free from these sinful acts (killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, lying, taking intoxicants and perhaps others in some cases) is the mind that free from distractions, and hence is ripe for meditation practice.
Furthermore, there can be no wisdom without concentration because we are talking about the kind of wisdom that is so close to us that we in fact become the wisdom. This is not mere reception of information, but the wisdom here has to penetrate deeply into your heart so that you are changed because of it. And this is not possible at all if you do not do meditation practice.
But here is the point: The wisdom I am talking about is nothing other than the realization of emptiness. Here all schools of Buddhism concur. You can study about emptiness in a classroom but then you would merge yourself into it and become one and the same with the teaching unless you take the emptiness to your heart. Then, and only then, will your defilements be eradicated and you be established on the Path.
So emptiness cannot be separated from meditation practice. Without the wisdom of emptiness, no Buddhahood is possible. And without meditation practice, no such wisdom is possible. This is why the study of emptiness cannot be separated from practice in any way.