There are two major systems for understanding life.
One is Science. The other is Spirituality.
These two systems give us contradictory approaches to living life. We explore these two systems through the lens of consciousness.
Each of us has to choose one system of life or the other. Or we have to figure out how to integrate them together to give our life fuller meaning.
The Scientific View of Life
The first view of reality comes from traditional (Newtonian) science. It tells us that reality is the outer world of matter and form. This reality began with the big bang and developed over time through evolution and the survival of the fittest. We — the human race — are the pinnacle of this evolution.
Humans have evolved in two ways. Our physical body has evolved from more primitive forms of life. But the more significant aspect of our development is our mind. Our mind has enabled us to become the masters of this planet. And many of us act as if we own it.
This science tells us that consciousness is created by the brain. Consciousness only exists while the body is alive. There is no before-life. There is no after-life. There is no meaning or purpose to life beyond the sheer will to survive.
How do we live in a world without meaning? We make up our own meaning. We develop beliefs about who we are as a person, what the world is like and how we have to interact with others. We create a narrative about our life and we set about to live out this narrative.
We need to ask ourselves: how well are we doing?
The Spiritual View of Life
Most religions believe in some form of an afterlife. They address directly or implicitly the relationship between this life and the afterlife. Religion regards consciousness in a very different way than science. Science puts the body before consciousness. Religion says consciousness comes first.
Tibetan Buddhism has much to say about consciousness. For them, consciousness is the Source of all life. It is infinite and eternal. Universal Consciousness is the experience of Pure Love. There is only one consciousness and we are all part of that cosmic consciousness. Transcendent consciousness — often portrayed as a deity — lies at the heart of the spiritual system.
If everything is a manifestation of the One Consciousness, then who are we? We are consciousness in a body. This creates an inherent tension because consciousness and the body are opposites. The body is temporal; it has a beginning and an end. The body has needs that must be met. Consciousness is eternal. It has no beginning. It has no end. And it has no needs. And yet we are both these things.
This creates within us the paradox at the core. We are a living contradiction. There is no resolution to this paradox. It is the existential tension we all live with.