When I began to become interested in Zen in the early 1960s, at this time, I had no idea how much Western culture had been greatly injured and deceived by WWII especially, by communism. After the war, with the sharp rise of consumer culture came also pop culture. Looking back, from what I can tell pop culture overtime became gradually more nihilistic which is where we are today. I hasten to add that this strong sense of nihilism from pop culture led me to Zen.
Pop culture is incapable of rising to a higher state of being. It is certainly not interested in the rich stores of mysticism that Buddhism offers. On the same score, this is not to imply Western culture is also nihilistic which includes its literature, music, art, law and science. The two cultures are quite different and quite apart.
If you watch the nihilist closely, he has no interest in true knowledge but, instead, wants its destruction. Already he is dehumanized and alienated. He is also a conformist. He cannot tolerate those who want no part of his pop culture; who don’t find the disgust the nihilist finds with Western culture.
A nihilist is a man who bows down before the sensory world, especially, his own senses and desires; who does not take any principle on faith.
Do not be deceived by him although it is easy to be deceived. This is why a nihilist cannot become a Buddhist or a Zennist. They have no faith in the transcendent. They are only waiting for another sensual pleasure or another drug high. And recently I discovered that very angry and often depressed.