I will answer your first question, according to Santideva:conebeckham wrote:So, is there such a thing, in your view, as a "direct cognition of emptiness?"Namdrol wrote: "Realizing" emptiness means the mind becomes free from the proliferation of the four extremes [is, isn't, both, neither]. That is not a cognitive event since it [the mind] has now become free from all apprehended characteristics. At this point, the mind has been transcended.
Or, another way of asking, what is it that "realizes" emptiness if not the mind?
"The ultimate is beyond the experiential range of the mind,
the mind is conventional."
So no, there cannot be a direct cognition of emptiness, since emptiness is ultimate and the mind is relative.
However when the mind is freed from all characteristics, then that can be considered the realization of emptiness.