Nihilism and Buddhism

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Nihilism and Buddhism

Postby BadgerJelly on January 2nd, 2018, 4:58 am 

I just had a little thought that may produce an introducing discussion.

note: This is a little long winded. Simply read the beginning and end, the rest is simply a scrambling attempt to help you grip the idea if you struggle to understand it.

Maybe nihilism is a kind of opposite to buddhism. By this I mean they appropriate themselves toward ideas of "truth" and "falsehood".

For the nihilist there is the perpetual "truth" of nothing, whilst for the Buddhist there is the perpetual "falsehood" of everything. By the later I mean the buddhist projects life as a cycle of "suffering" which needs to be broken; this can be taken as saying the "suffering" is a "falsehood" from which to move away from. There is direction and intent. For the nihilist we see the same pattern and the same philosophy, of sorts, simply playing out as if to mirror the buddhist philosophical view. By this I mean the nihilist sees life as meaningless, this is an attachment to "truth", yet also adhering as the buddhist does, to the disbelief of material life as "real".

What I find interesting is that the nihilist must have to project themselves toward some highest value of material being, but given that we have no idea of the limitations of high we can "rise up" and live a meaningful and productive life, then the ideal is completely out of our reach and necessarily always held out into the distance of where we are (from here the constant striving is endless, and taken by nihilist as meaningless and by the buddhist as "suffering") The buddhist positions themselves as "away from" the concrete depths of "suffering".

So the nihilist by striving initially toward the truth only sees the falsehood, and the buddhist by striving away from falsehood sees only truth. Ironically what this says, true or not, is that if you "rise up" for a truth you have the abyss below open up into your field of vision, whereas if you "inhabit" the depths you can only "rise up".

The nihilist inhabits life as if it has a truth and therefore sees only falsehood and nothingness, whereas the buddhist inhabits life as a falsehood and therefore sees only truth and meaning.

note: If you are "Buddhist" I am simply referring to the general existential outlook of Buddhism regarding it as a philosophical pursuit rather as a religious doctrine.
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Re: Nihilism and Buddhism

Postby wolfhnd on January 2nd, 2018, 3:54 pm 

Buddhism does not seem to necessarily be religious in the traditional Western sense of organized worship. It may be spiritual in the broadest sense but again perhaps not defined in the same way it would be in the West. Compared to Christianity then Buddhism cannot be officially defined as promoting a nihilistic world view.

Christianity is foundationally escatological. If it's follows appear nihilistic it is in denial of worldly meaning. Earthly life becomes less important than life after death. Buddhism has the same problem as it focuses on the internal life not those things such as would improve the physical well being of society as a collective.

Neither Buddhism or Christianity are technically nihilistic but they can be used to justify acting in ways that do not engage the world in ways that reduce suffering. Humanists would condemn both for not causing people to act in ways that improve physical and emotional well-being in society. Strictly speaking the humanist's view of nihilism is simply incompatible with and inappropriately applied to people with spiritual orientations.
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