Nihilistic? Not really…

One of the concerns that has been conveyed to me about Buddhism by many people – is that it’s teaching of ‘non-attachment’ is nihilistic. I have struggled with explained how a teaching of non-attachment is, not only not nihilistic, but is all about being engaged in the world. Albeit from a different perspective.

The image of an extinguished fire carried no connotations of annihilation for the early Buddhists. Rather, the aspects of fire that to them had significance for the mind-fire analogy are these: Fire, when burning, is in a state of agitation, dependence, attachment, and entrapment—both clinging and being stuck to its sustenance. Extinguished, it becomes calm, independent, indeterminate, and unattached: It lets go of its sustenance and is released.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “Mind Like Fire Unbound

So, by extinguishing our ‘inner flame’ of emotion driven responses to everything, we gain a dispassionate view, where we can attempt to chart the best course based on long term outcomes, rather then knee-jerk responses.

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