I know that there is what is described as universal True Nature - aspects common to everyone. I know about Karma, which can be seen as how beings have tendencies even from birth (which otherwise has no explanation that I can see). This question is whether each person (regardless how you think they exist or not) has a particular set of characteristics that are theirs to express in living their full potential?

Buddhism is sometimes accused of being nihilistic in the way that it seems to leave no reason for people to function when they overcome ignorance and realize the truths. This is your chance to explain, using references, that no, every person is a valid and necessary part of the complex web of Experience, not just a wrinkle that escaped temporarily from The Void.

  • Self Tag was so compelling... Oh! Soul Tag! But I do not accept the concept of a Soul, as I understand it, so don't go there. Don't go in to Reincarnation either - it is not to the point. "Take the instant way..."
    – user2341
    Jul 25, 2015 at 16:46
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    Could you clarify the term "true nature"? Thank you.
    – user2424
    Jul 25, 2015 at 17:31
  • @Ryan: thank you for the link. I am not worried, neither am I grasping. It is merely that we can observe that people vary, in obvious ways like height, and also in less-obvious ways, like temperament. I am asking if Dasein has any characteristics that sprang in to being with it, and are like unto only itself? A purpose or strengths, etc? Every living thing can have different DNA, so why can not people have Different Natural Abilities? Does Buddhism assert that everyone is the same? To what purpose?
    – user2341
    Jul 26, 2015 at 17:33
  • True Nature - Voltaire said that a book is finished, not when nothing more can be added, but when nothing more can be taken away. If we can't take away everything, then what is essential? Was it there to begin with? Can different people be different (else why have them?) Need a few more ?...? ? ? .........?
    – user2341
    Jul 26, 2015 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


To the best of my knowledge Essentialism is not a part of any school of Buddhism. Essentialism deals with metaphysical essentialism, and is essentially on the opposite end of the spectrum from emptiness/sunyata, which might be refereed to by some as Metaphysical anti-realism. However I have not met many Buddhists that want to jump into that classification. Taoists love it though. The Buddhists will assert that there is an Ultimate truth, and so can never truely be metaphysical anti-realists. At least not in the most extreme case of the view. They do show some grey areas from time to time.

A quick dirty and brief summery of metaphysical anti-realism is that there is no "Truth" but some views are more true than others. It is found in various places within eastern philosophy.

Also Buddhism is not nihilistic, never do they throw up their hands and say, nothing matters do whatever you want. The only term with nihilism in it that might come close to paralleling with the Buddhist worldview that I can think of is Mereological nihilism.

  • Mmkay... Essentialism is not quite what I was thinking. If I understand properly, it means that an object of type X has certain essential characteristics (Platonic Idealism), which is actually what I see Buddhism saying: people have senses, objects of the senses, consciousness of the sense objects, and on and on through the 52 things. To me this is somewhat silly and I never thought of it as factual, just a nice description. I was asking: when my friend Mark came in to being, did some "unique particulars" come with him? Otherwise, how in the world can we distinguish him from anyone else?
    – user2341
    Jul 27, 2015 at 0:43
  • @nocomprende so your asking if the "you" that travels with "you" from life to life has particulars that separate it from other "souls" going from life to life? The answer is no. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81
    – hellyale
    Jul 27, 2015 at 1:33
  • At least from the Buddhist perspective... If I am still misunderstanding, please edit your original question. Also Buddhism != Platonic Idealism either...
    – hellyale
    Jul 27, 2015 at 1:34
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    How about just within this life?
    – user2341
    Jul 27, 2015 at 3:19
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    The road does not begin or end, the "can" just keeps tumbling down it. Cyclic existence is not linear, but it is linear. I think you could compile all this into a new question maybe, as really there have been several questions throughout this thread.
    – hellyale
    Sep 18, 2015 at 2:13

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