If we really are expanded beings of conscious awareness, then why would we ever choose to take on the contracted form of a material body in a material world with all of its pains and limitations?
Contraction and expansion are things that we do. Expansion makes us everywhere and everywhen. Contraction puts us in a particular time and place. Neither is necessarily better or worse than the other.
While the expanded state is one of peace, the contracted state has much to offer. There are enjoyment and growth. Imagine meeting a friend at a nice restaurant, or making love, or reading a good book, or enjoying a sunset, as a disembodied entity. It can’t be done. Perhaps we are spirits that choose contracted incarnations so that we can have specific experiences. If so, then even though our earthly experiences are not ultimately important or all-there-is, it is still wonderful to experience them, for both the immediate enjoyment and the self-discovery that they enable.
Along with the enjoyable things in the contracted state are some unpleasant things. There are material problems such as hunger and war, and there are emotional problems such as fear and anger. These, too, can aid in self-discovery, and in fact usually reveal more about ourselves than pleasant experiences do. How ironic that the experiences we try to avoid can be the greatest help in self-discovery.
Material problems often seem random. We or loved ones become ill, natural disasters occur, we get robbed, and foreign armies invade us. This is precisely why we strive for material protection via dwellings, medicine, locks, and weapons. But material problems can threaten only the particular incarnation we are in – they cannot touch the real us. Our bodies and reputations can be harmed, but the consciousness that contains them can’t. When we believe that we are only this incarnation, and that we can therefore be harmed, we make unpleasant situations worse by creating the emotional problems of fear and anger because we believe that our entire existence is in jeopardy.
There is no proof that we are spirits in a material world. Part of the human condition is this not-knowing. But looking beyond materiality to the conscious awareness we are can help us avoid torturing ourselves with negative thoughts and emotions.