Your account of karma is more reasonable, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to settle here the nature of consciousness, although clearly that disagreement is central to the difference between spiritual and secular enlightenment.

You say that the point of spiritual enlightenment isn’t to bask in a peak mental state, but “merely to see the nature of mind. I.e. no matter how bizarre or mundane the perception, it’s still but a perception. Thus, there is no special, mystical state of enlightenment, and one can do jack shit to consciousness.”

We can agree on that for the sake of argument, so we’re led to the question of what a person does once he or she has made that discovery, has peeked behind the curtain to understand what we are as perceivers. I’d like to focus on the revealing point you make at the end, which is that egoistic behaviour comes with “pointless suffering.”

Can you explain why such suffering is pointless? Is that suffering any more pointless than happiness, joy, tranquility, rationality, or any other human mental state, given the spiritualist’s monism? If there’s only one self in reality and that divine self is eternal and infinite, God surely passes through every conceivable mental state in every imaginable incarnation in all possible universes that this God eventually dreams into being.

In particular, why would it be pointless to suffer in honour of the fact that even God isn’t what we hoped he would be, that God can’t be troubled to create an independent reality but can only fool himself into thinking he’s done so, thus tricking and making fools of each of us who identifies with our apparent bodies?

Is all suffering pointless, according to spiritualism? Is suffering necessarily so? Why is contentment a greater sign of enlightenment than horror, awe, and disgust in light of the magnitude of God’s joke?

Why doesn’t that spiritual situation lead to the kind of absurdity and despair featured in the Rick and Morty show, with its portrayal of the multiverse? Again, given that the difference between selves is illusory, why are pleasurable mental states better than painful ones? They are, according to biological impulses and social conventions, but those would be parts of the grand illusion, so appealing to them would be empty.

As I see it, there’s a popular, optimistic take on this spiritual monism, which is exoteric and which isn’t as profound as the pessimistic and tragic one that draws on existentialism and that I’m trying to explicate.

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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