I heard someone make this statement:
"Buddhism denies the value and existence of life."
How would you reply to this statement?
I know that this is technically incorrect, but I do feel that Buddhism often presents itself in a way which can seem overly depressing and negative to most people.
Buddhism has had a long history of being incorrectly labeled as "nihilism" by outsiders.
Buddhism correctly teaches and understands that all of samsara, all of it, is suffering. Samsara is a great slaughterhouse where all of our loved ones and ourselves, will inevitably meet our deaths. Samsara is a place where there can be no last happiness from experiences. People do not like to acknowledge these facts and want to impute some degree of happiness upon samsara. This is inevitable and the teachings in fact say that people will do this. The reason people do this is because they grasp at pleasure and think that they find happiness in pleasure and reject displeasure. People want to see samsara as a mixture of pleasure and some small degree of unpleasantness and furthermore they want to make the unpleasantness as small as possible. In other words, they want the existence of the god realms and actively grasp at thaat and try to achieve it in many different ways.
This view, this activity, is unrealistic. This is the actual problem. The reality is, as I mentioned, that literally all of samsara is actually suffering.
The main reply I can think of is that Buddhism finds value in life as a result of its concept that all sentient beings have buddha nature.
Buddhism says that all sentient beings are of infinite value because they have Buddha Nature and can actively experience and realize that Buddha Nature. However we are enmeshed totally in a slaughterhouse and can really do nothing about that environment.
_________________Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes
"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche