Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

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manas
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Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by manas » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:01 pm

Greetings all,
ever since listening to Thanissaro Bhikkhu's series, 'Romanticizing the Buddha', in which he explains how the modern malaise of Post-modernism in Western lands, has it's roots in the philosophy of the German Romantics, I've become more aware of how, usually while being quite unaware of it, so many people have swallowed it's lies, which induce the sense of despair and meaninglessness plaguing so many in modern societies. While the solution is clearly not to go back to blindly accepting the plethora of religious traditions whose often hypocritical actions were the understandable spur for their rejection by so many, neither are Nihilism or moral relativism the answer. There IS right and wrong, objective truth and untruth. It's not surprising depression and other mental and social illnesses, are so prevalent, when Nihilism (and it's modern offshoot, Post-modernism), has so thoroughly permeated most modern Western societies. Read about this pernicious philosophy for yourself, if interested, below.

kind regards

http://www.iep.utm.edu/nihilism/
Last edited by manas on Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:16 pm

Greetings,

Well said.

Religions in toto are something of a mixed bag, but nihilism and post-modernism are arguably worse.

On a related note, you may be interested in this somewhat lengthy, but related topic:

Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by SarathW » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:30 pm

I just wonder who's in a best position to learn Buddhism.
Eternalist or Nihilists?

So I tried to investigate this in the past but I still do not know the answer.

Not believing in God is not such a good idea.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15942&hilit=


Did Buddha say annihilationism is the best of wrong views?

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=28572&hili=
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by DNS » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:34 pm

Nihilism is a false dhamma and has detrimental human effects. It would give no meaning to staying alive and if one had the most trivial suffering, one might consider suicide. It is no wonder suicide rates have been rising in recent years, becoming a leading cause of death in some age groups.
Suicide is a major national concern in the United States. There were 42,773 recorded suicides in the U.S. in 2014 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).[1][2][3] On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% over the 15 previous years (1999 to 2014), from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.[4][5] Due to the stigma surrounding suicide, it is suspected that it generally is underreported.[6]

In 2009, suicide was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the 16th leading cause of death for females. In 2015, suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24 and the third leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 14.[7] From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among American ages 35 to 64 increased nearly 30 percent. The largest increases were among men in their fifties, with rates rising nearly 50 percent, to 30 per 100,000. For women aged 60 to 64, rates rose 60 percent, to 7.0 per 100,000.[5] In 2008, it was observed that U.S. suicide rates, particularly among middle-aged white women, had increased, although the causes were unclear.[8] According to the last study done by the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention,[6] in 2014 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the US.

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by Modus.Ponens » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:37 pm

Hello.

Thank you for this topic as it is one of the things that interests me the most at the moment.

It occured to me recently that I should abstain from wrong view just as I would abstain from lying. Wrong views are not just innocent opinions, even when there is a case to be made for some wrong view or another. Wrong views are the sort of thing that drive tyrants and mobs to create hell on Earth. Maybe we buddhists should try to abstain from believing in wrong views, by recalling our limited knowledge and experience compared with the Buddha, even if we don't have a solid case for the corresponding right views like the existence of other worlds and of karma.

As for modern societies, I agree that nihilism is dangerous, especially the postmodern nihilism. I do not know an apealing alternative for non buddhists, except maybe for Jordan Peterson's Maps of Meaning (this book is available on youtube as a 13 short episode series for TVO
https://m.youtube.com/#/playlist?list=P ... UDAGJ7_G5e
).

One thing is for sure: we can't avoid the question of meaning, just like we can't avoid the question of morality. No matter how much of a relativist you are, your moral options have consequences in this life within yourself. The same is true for the question of meaning. Nihilists say there's no meaning but they have a deep seated anguish, a sense of being lost and without an inner direction.

Can you link me the ven. Thanissaro dhamma talk about postmodernism?

Añjali

edited
Last edited by Modus.Ponens on Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by JohnK » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:46 pm

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... icism.html
This is his on Roots of Buddhist Romanticism.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by manas » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:37 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:37 pm

Can you link me the ven. Thanissaro dhamma talk about postmodernism?

Añjali
Hi,
the talk is primarily about how Romanticism has influenced how Dhamma is taught in the West, but yes there is a direct correlation to Post-Modernism. To listen (it's quite entertaining also), here is a link where the audio version can be found:
http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/16/

It's the 8th topic down on the list :anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by dharmacorps » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:23 am

I found the Dhamma at time when I expressed nihilistic views and had nihilistic feelings. I think that perspective increased my suffering to such a point that I began trying to find some other way of processing things. It is a horrible place to be. Like others have said the critical piece is discovering your actions DO matter and your happiness is based on them. Therefore, morality matters. The problem the west has is, that is the world morality is equated with judeo-christian judgement and has really negative connotations. So we have to re-frame what morality means and how we talk about it. Not an easy task when the word has been owned by those religions for so long.

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by aflatun » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:51 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:16 pm
Greetings,

Well said.

Religions in toto are something of a mixed bag, but nihilism and post-modernism are arguably worse.

On a related note, you may be interested in this somewhat lengthy, but related topic:

Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Metta,
Paul. :)
Another great thread! Thanks for that, wasn't aware of that one :twothumbsup:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by binocular » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:36 am

manas wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:01 pm
ever since listening to Thanissaro Bhikkhu's series, 'Romanticizing the Buddha', in which he explains how the modern malaise of Post-modernism in Western lands, has it's roots in the philosophy of the German Romantics, I've become more aware of how, usually while being quite unaware of it, so many people have swallowed it's lies, which induce the sense of despair and meaninglessness plaguing so many in modern societies.
One doesn't need the German Romantics, or Postmodernism, or Nihilism to feel crappy in a samsaric existence; the samsaric existence takes care of all that on its own. Frenchy turtle-neck-wearing intellekshuals are just a bonus for it, but not necessary.

IOW, it's not clear that people have really "swallowed the lies" of Nihilism etc.
There IS right and wrong, objective truth and untruth.
That is a statement of faith.
It's not surprising depression and other mental and social illnesses, are so prevalent, when Nihilism (and it's modern offshoot, Post-modernism), has so thoroughly permeated most modern Western societies.
It's not clear that this connection is as strong as you suggest, or that it even exists. Especially given that diagnosing those illnesses is in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry and other people seeking power.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by padmini » Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:47 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:23 am
The problem the west has is, that is the world morality is equated with judeo-christian judgement and has really negative connotations. So we have to re-frame what morality means and how we talk about it. Not an easy task when the word has been owned by those religions for so long.
:goodpost:
The idea that your actions matter because they have consequences (and not because some god will punish or reward you for them) is so powerful that I think it is unknowingly shared by many so-called atheists in Western countries. At least that's my perception of things.

Once the Christian concept of morality fades, the "natural consequence" (at least for me) is to believe that your actions are moral or immoral based on the results they produce for you and others around you.

I don't mean to say that Westerners are unknowingly Buddhist, I jus want to point out, as dharmacorps said, that Buddhism can offer a great alternative to those disillusioned with Christian values and morality in the West.
The Buddha's path is simple and meant for ordinary people; anyone with goodwill and determination can follow its steps toward freedom of heart and mind
-- Ven. Ayya Khema

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by Bundokji » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:38 am

I think somehow that a Buddhist is more likely to be a Nihilist until he finds Nibbana. The following is my rational:

The problem as Shakespeare put it: "to be or not to be, that is the question" so the unenlightened mind is inclined to think in terms of exit or does not exist, there is a meaning or there is no meaning. In Ven. Nanananda's book the magic of mind, he explained the following:
If, in the ignorant worldling's reflection, `selfhood' appears as something self-evident, it is due to this predicament in which he finds himself. The self-image follows him like a shadow that can neither be outstripped nor escaped. Hence one can sympathize with the 'self'- created problems of both the Eternalist and the Nihilist. The Eternalist's discomfiture in the face of impermanence is easily understood but perhaps not so easily the Nihilist's. He is dismayed to find the `self' which he vehemently denied dogging him close behind, when he turns back to introspect. Thus whether one takes up the viewpoint `I have a soul' or the opposite viewpoint, `I do not have a soul' he is bound either way"
Is not the nihilist above is what Buddhists do? A Buddhist knows somehow that the self image is a delusion and probably when he started to practice he was challenged to find it or give an account of it, and at the same time, he is told that the there is a state of being that is more real called Nibbana, and his seeking of Nibbana becomes exactly what Ven Nanananda's described as the nihilist behavior, to quote it again:
He is dismayed to find the `self' which he vehemently denied dogging him close behind, when he turns back to introspect.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by Pseudobabble » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:07 am

binocular wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:36 am
There IS right and wrong, objective truth and untruth.
That is a statement of faith.
No - there are objective truths, it's just that they only come in the forms of analytic statement, or empirical measurement.

The albedo of granite is 0.3-0.35. That is an objective truth. But it has little bearing on anything, little use, without being situated in a context, and in so situating, we step away from objectivity.

Likewise the statement 'all unmarried men are bachelors' is an analytic truth. But tautological and basically useless except as an axiomatic feature of language.

I'm being somewhat pedantic, but it isn't the case that there is no objective truth or untruth.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by binocular » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:03 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:07 am
binocular wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:36 am
There IS right and wrong, objective truth and untruth.
That is a statement of faith.
No - there are objective truths, it's just that they only come in the forms of analytic statement, or empirical measurement.
/.../
I'm being somewhat pedantic, but it isn't the case that there is no objective truth or untruth.
The poster was talking about morality/ethics, about the objective moral/ethical right and wrong (which also appears to be the thrust of the OP). To this, it is my response that it is a statement of faith that there exists objective moral/ethical right and wrong.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Nihilism has poisoned modern society; as Buddhists, we should reject it.

Post by Modus.Ponens » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:25 pm

Perhaps it is. There are some moral rules on which there is no consensus, such as euthanasia. But others seem objectively true, or at least unobjectionable. For example, "One should not torture people for no other purpose than sadism". This seems to be objectively true, at least as objective as morality gets. If there are people who do it, or cultures that promote it, they're wrong.

One of the main problems today is that some people do say that there's nothing wrong with this if it's a cultural norm from some other culture and we have to respect it. We can even be berated for being against needless and sadist torture. Ironically, the people berating generally live very confortable lives by comparison. "Liberation for me, but not for thee".

This is a perversion of tolerance that serves only the self satisfaction of solipsists. It is also a sympthom of a sickness of the Westerm mind, i.e., postmodern nihilism.

EDIT: I have to add that this was not directed at you, Binocular, but at the radical relativists that do the berating.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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