Is Scott Shaw a Nihilist?


I was cruising down the coast between Santa Barbara and L.A. a couple of weeks ago with this sweet young lady. She was looking at her twitter feed and she noticed that somebody had quoted me.

It is pretty common that people quote my books, Zen O’clock, About Peace, and Nirvana in a Nutshell on twitter, because they are made up of short spiritual aphorisms.

Anyway, she noticed that somebody had commented on the original tweet, “That sounds pretty nihilistic.”

She turned and asked me, “What does nihilistic mean?”

Her question made me smile due to the fact that she didn’t know what nihilism was.

I gave her the basic off-the-cuff definition… Someone who is nihilistic believes that life has no absolute meaning and that religions and philosophies hold no absolute truth.

“Are you nihilistic,” she asked. Again, I smiled.

Do I believe that life holds an absolute meaning? No.

Do I believe that religion possesses an absolute truth? No.

Do I believe in a specific religion or philosophy? No.

Does that make me a nihilist? Maybe… But, I think it is a bit more complicated than that. By nature, I am extremely optimistic. I believe in people. I believe in goodness. I believe that people will make the right choices and do the right things — even though I have been proven wrong time and time again. But, I still believe!

So, is Scott Shaw a nihilist? Maybe. But, as a nihilist that would mean that I also don’t believe in absolute definitions. So, the whole question possesses no merit.

Ultimately, if Scott Shaw is a nihilist, he is an optimistic one. :-)

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