Sorry that that tangential paragraph triggered you. Could it be that you feel unconsciously guilty about the implicit conflict between your mystical hobby and your life in the corporate world of sales? Or are the standards of profiting from sales in a capitalistic marketplace supposed to be perfectly consistent with nondual wisdom? None of my business of course, but you brought it up.

I’m sure you understand suffering, science, and philosophy like you say, and I’m sure your interest in “identifying with cosmic interconnectedness” is genuine. Nevertheless, the heroes of mysticism like Jesus and the Buddha give up the profane life because they deem it absurd compared to the mystical experience of cosmic oneness. Those who try to have it both ways are in danger of being hypocrites.

The most respectable reason why these half-in, half-out folks wouldn’t sell all their possessions and go live in a cave somewhere is that they suspect the mystical experience isn’t as complete as it’s supposed to be. Similarly, there’s something undignified about the prospect of living as a naïve child forever, even though that’s precisely the state of mind Jesus says is needed for entrance to God’s kingdom (Mark 10:15, Matt.19:14). Hence the comparison of mine which you find offensive and cynical. Take it up with Jesus, will you?

Much of your criticism strawmans my view. You write like I’m opposed to the idea of going against the social norm, as if the existentialist lifestyle I’ve advocated in dozens of writings doesn’t do precisely that. I’m fine with “choosing a different perspective than the norm,” since that’s literally what all my writings do. But not all minority perspectives are equal. And it’s hard finding a way to live that’s honourable from the perspective of unconventional ideals. It’s much easier to go with the social flow.

You allege I’m being merely “cynical.” But I’m not cynical in the technical sense, because I respect the human creative and progressive potential. The Cynics thought we’re no better than dogs. I write about our capacity to be godlike, which is closer to promethean secular humanism. Where I may seem cynical is my Straussian realism about the need for the esoteric-exoteric distinction, or about the social classes that tend to form because most people prefer to be unenlightened. But it’s cowardly to shoot the messenger.

You say I maintain there’s only one way to live a responsible life. Of course, that wouldn’t be true if “responsibility” were defined as living up to some ideal. Multiple ideals will entail multiple responsibilities. The question is whether all the ideals are equally valid or whether some are better than others. I don’t claim to have fully worked out mine yet. I write to get people to think about the existential, cosmicist, philosophical problems. I’m not a prophet who claims to have all the answers.

Finally, you suggest I advocate “deep nihilism.” That’s not so. I reconstruct moral values from an aesthetic perspective that piggybacks on objectivity and that’s thus compatible with science and philosophy. See, for example, “Life as Art,” on my old blog (link below).

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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