Compass of the Times 216

Compass of the Times 216

Going Beyond Nihilism

Keiko Takahashi

The Problem of Nihilism Brought About by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has lasted for two years, has brought us many trials and tribulations. Among them, what we should not forget, is the problem of nihilism, which has been eroding our minds without us realizing it.

Along with the anxiety over the unknown infectious disease of COVID-19, a dark cloud of no prospects has brought an unimaginable burden to people.

In particular, the reality of death, which had been kept at a distance and hidden in the world of modernization, surged into our surroundings, greatly amplifying our fear and sense of avoidance of it. In the midst of all this, we were consumed by three distrusts without even realizing it.

The fear of coronavirus amplified our distrust of others who might spread the virus. The fear-mongering media repeatedly encouraged people to criticize others, spearheading the divide and reinforcing the distrust of others.

In addition, with its consecutive new waves of infections coming and going, with the end of the pandemic not in sight, people strengthened distrust towards the world.

Feeling helpless, people could not help but be driven to distrust themselves as well.

With the spread of the three distrusts, if we cannot trust ourselves, people around us, and the world, how is it possible for us to feel happiness?

The World of the Left Door Is a Hotbed of Nihilism

The problem of the three distrusts is not something that started with coronavirus. Modern society, steeped in a materialistic view of humanity and the world that only believes in what is visible, has always been a hotbed of the three distrusts.

There is no reason for believing in the empty self, in which people are nothing but a lump of material substance. The three distrusts lead us to consider other people merely as rivals with conflicting interests; they can easily become the subject of our criticism. How is it possible that we can believe in ourselves when we may just appear to be the product of a collection of coincidences and in a world which is unrelated to us? The more we think about it, the more we may be convinced that the three distrusts are inevitable tendencies in modern society.

Can we not say that, in a sense, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed fundamental problems in our modern society?

If we unconsciously live in the flow of this world, we cannot stop the erosion that results from nihilism.

It is precisely for this reason that I believe there is now a crucial choice we must make. That is the choice between the two doors I have explained in my book, The Two Doors.

Do we choose the world of the left door, the world where we end with death, seeing humans as simply material substance, or do we choose the world of the right door, the world where we live eternally, seeing humans as a soul?

If we live in the world on the left, everything that happens in that world is a coincidence that happened by chance. Life is nothing but a series of coincidental events, and there is no connection or special meaning to it. When we die, it is over, and everything returns to nothingness.

The fact that you are living now with your family and friends, or that you have chosen your profession and are working at it, is a result of a series of coincidences. Naturally, there is no purpose or mission in your life. You can never find a deep inevitability, solid reason, or clear meaning for your life. As a consequence, we have no means to avoid the erosion of nihilism.

Going Beyond Nihilism

On the other hand, what if we choose the world of the right door?

Then, the events that occur in our lives have meaning. They are connected to one another and are trying to teach us the purpose and mission in life. Each one of us is not an isolated being but we are connected to each other.

Even when we end our life in this world, it is not the end of everything. The progress of the soul will continue without interruption and will never return to nothingness.

The basic idea of such a world is an inevitability with a meaning. Everything that has appeared in the world has its inevitability, its reason, and its meaning.

If we live in the world of the right door, we can naturally free ourselves from the nihilism that regards events as a coincidence that occurs by chance without meaning or connection.