The universe started as oneness, and then with the Big Bang, duality was born. There became a before and an after, being and non-being, light and darkness. Matter interacted with matter to increase in complexity, and eventually, life arose on Earth. All species and lifeforms, just like planets, stars, and galaxies, have a birth and a death. The universe itself will undergo a heat death and return to oneness. Each life cycle paves the way for the next.
Planets and stars are at the mercy of physical processes, while organisms are at the mercy of evolutionary ones as well. What separates life from inert substances is their sensation, perception, or emotion — in a word: consciousness. The purpose of consciousness is to ensure the survival of the organism. Evolution is driven by differences in consciousness, which are adapted to the species’ ecological niche.
Humans in particular have a very sophisticated consciousness. We rose to world dominance using our ability to create belief systems which served as models of reality. We have invented elaborate games, languages, stories and rituals in order to organize ourselves and collaborate on large projects.
Beliefs determine our goals, which determine our actions, which determine our identity. We feel good when our goals succeed, and bad when our goals fail. Positive or negative responses to stimuli is a basic survival mechanism.It might work for animals, whose biological programming puts their survival on autopilot (at least for those animals who can co-exist with us). But for humans it is a glitch that has some unintended consequences.
Humans have extraordinary cognitive strength, but also extraordinary cognitive biases. This combination is a double edged sword. It allows us to build civilizations, but also destroy them. Under false beliefs, we may pursue goals that are actually detrimental to our survival. If no one does evil knowingly, then it follows that to be good, one must know. To be beneficial to humanity, a belief system must be consistent with reality.
There is only one constant in the universe, and that is duality. In order to fulfill the purpose of existence, we must find the light in the darkness. We must bravely face the unknown; cooperate, not compete; create, not destroy. Our fragile humanity is the only light in a dark and dying universe (as far as we know). Let’s keep it alight for as long as possible.