I am going to suggest that the reason we have so much difficulty with the question is because we have not as yet come to the realization of what reality is all about. Most of us here in Western culture are convinced of a separate monotheistic God which has created and peopled a universe for the purpose of companions for himself and is using this earthy experience to test as a means of determining which are worthy. This God is very discriminating in so choosing, selecting only part of the whole and rejecting the rest of his creation to eternal suffering for their failure to rightly choose. Also, if we are to accept this belief we must accept perfection creating imperfection and love rejecting its own creation.
The other is the atheistic view that there is no higher intelligence than that of the human and that all we experience is random happenstance of some evolutionary process having no intelligent direction or plan. The intelligence we have developed by some weird quirk at some undeterminable point in time and space
The third is the Eastern philosophies that came to the realization a few thousand years ago that there is only consciousness, knowing, or awareness. This philosophy states that there is no separation but Oneness which chose to express and its only means of doing so was to project an illusion of duality where contrast and interdependent relations could stage a great drama with infinite variation.
After much contemplation, the last is the only one I have found where the pieces all fall beautifully into place. Expression requires duality where contrast and form provide definition and distinction. Ancient Chinese philosophy described it as the yin and yang. The opposites. There is no appreciating or defining joy without sadness, health without sickness, long or short, hot or cold, etc.
We are here as limited aspects of “All that Is” through which IT experiences and expresses. In other words, we are IT but are just becoming aware of it and will soon be awakened to fuller awareness as this experience is completed and gives way to greater ones. Everyone and everything is special and unique being precisely chosen by the Almighty for this particular experience.
We are not really in control and will find much greater peace, joy and happiness as we cease resistance to “what is”, surrender completely and simply go with the flow. Think about it, if we were in control there would be no duality, we would not chose sickness, poverty, or unhappiness. We are here as experiencers or observers. In reality we are eternal knowing or awareness and are indestructible and invulnerable forever but are privileged to experience various dreams in duality which will enhance our eternal destiny.
I welcome your comments, pro or con.