Why do we exist? (Answers in Quora)
You could equally have asked: Why do stones and trees… the earth, the universe exist? There is no answer to any of those questions – other than by the various theologies. Existence is, and is the way it is, how it is – it is a given. No reasons can be given, in the same way that we cannot find a meaning to it all.
But we can assert with confidence that there is intelligence in the world, in the universe and, by extension, in all it contains; intelligence is participated in by all beings. By persistent questioning, it is possible to find an answer as to what is the nature of the universe, of existence, and of ‘me’. That answer is both personal and impersonal. Find out what the rishis of old revealed, which goes way beyond religion.
Speaking strictly from the tradition of the Indian Advaita Vedanta (many Indians and Easterners contribute in Quora), being or existence, the supreme metaphysical principle, IS its own essence – there is no other essence or essences. The same can be said of consciousness. Now consciousness and existence are ontologically equivalent (sat-chit), two aspects of the same reality which are approximations (or analyses) made by the mind in its search for direct, unmediated, unitive understanding – or which occur spontaneously to a contemplative mind. The mind is dualistic by nature, and thus its operations (distinctions, discriminations, etc.) are necessarily dualistic.
Unlike most western traditions (with the exception of Plato, Dionysius the Areopagite, Berkeley, some Sufis, and the mystics and poets) intuition by the intellect (a part or aspect of the mind – writ large) is the means of grasping the reality of everything. In this operation or act, the mind is subsidiary to consciousness, its substrate. In sum, there is lower or empirical knowledge, and higher ‘knowledge’: intuition plus ‘higher reasoning’, the latter inspired by intuition (anubhava).