Why Am I Here?

You may ask yourself this from time to time. Not just in reference to a particular place but also here on Earth, in this life. The answer to both is the same: Love. You are here to love—every person, event, experience, and complicated nuance in your life. Why? Because love is who you are at your core; you were born out of love, human and divine, and to express it is part of the human and planetary design. It is as natural as breathing, and as essential to life. Love is woven into the fabric of everything, and it is renewed and enlivened by our expressing it on a daily basis. Without that living manifestation of our core essence, we and the planet would shrivel and die.

Sometimes the path of purpose can be hidden, seemingly impossible to find, but it’s really quite simple. We aren’t here to make lots of money or a name for ourselves, to accumulate possessions or stocks and bonds. Those are distractions, side events that eventually we see through and move on from. The human course is not necessarily self-evident, but gradually our life experiences awaken us to who we really are at the soul level. We finally see the truth that George Bailey did in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life: No one is a failure who has friends, and kindness and generosity made him the “richest man in town.” Without his presence, no one else in his life would have fully lived who they came here to be. Same with each of us. You affect many more people than you know.

You came to this Earth to speak your truth, to be your unique soul-self in the world. Not everyone will hear you. Not everyone will see you. And that is fine. Those who are meant to cross paths with you do so. There is a divine orchestration taking place in which we each meet whom we are destined to meet at just the right moment, and together we sing in harmony the musical notes of our connection. Our songs, individual and collective, are part of our awakening to the presence within each and all of us. We are actually awakening to Spirit itself, whose voice is ageless and limitless.

So, at those times when you feel lost or uncertain, take a deep breath and remember that everything is happening for a reason. Your purpose lives in the fiber of your being, and you breathe it into the world with every breath. In the moments in which you are most compassionate, empathic, and peaceful, it glows like gold and touches the hearts of all those around you. Your purpose is God’s purpose. Your reason for being is life’s reason for being: to manifest love and shine that light within your life. Together we all become one greater light on Earth and fulfill our common purpose: to embody loving-kindness in our human form. That is why you are here, why we all are here.

Precious Moments

Whatever your current age or state of health, you have probably experienced moments when life feels exceedingly ephemeral, as if it could disappear in a split second. This is raw truth. We are here on Earth as human beings for a tiny moment in eternity, yet time itself is always relative—sometimes racing and sometimes “stopped.” As our lives move forward and evolve, we experience the various aspects of life and living and come to know both impermanence and loss. In doing so, our hearts may break, yet we grow wiser. And we begin to see beyond time to eternity itself.

When my mother and father were first married and living in Chicago, they went to see a show called Knickerbocker Holiday. In it, one piece of music, “September Song,” particularly touched them, and they carried it through their lives as their “favorite.” Every time someone sang it on TV or radio, they would pause, listen, and look across the room at each other meaningfully. The main lyric was “It’s a long, long while from May to December. But the days grow short when you reach September…. These precious days I’ll spend with you.” I have such a clear memory of this, which I’ve carried with me all my life. The songwriter, and my parents, had tapped into both the sweetness and the poignancy of life.

My parents were married 57 years when my mother passed away; my father died nine years later. I think I came to know why that song held such significance for them as I lived through their aging years and eventual deaths. Now, many years later, as I myself am aging, as well as facing breast cancer, it all takes on new meaning. In my heart, I feel strongly that I will survive this health challenge, yet you can’t live through such an unexpected and intense experience without being changed, without taking a hard look at your own mortality. Of course, my entire life I have been focused on the mystery of eternity and death, feeling both fear and fascination. (Maybe it runs in my family genes!) None of it coincidence, I suppose. This is my soul journey. Before birth, I chose the parents I had for exactly these reasons.

Over the years, my spiritual path has gradually led me to a “peace that passeth understanding” about it all. Particularly in the last few months, I have come to see an extraordinary beauty in eternity and the nature of the universe. Cancer can be both frightening and soulfully expansive. In recent weeks, I have experienced moments of timeless immersion in infinity, primarily in Nature, which defy description. The heart and soul cannot translate what transpires at those times. But you are transformed; the inner “enlightenment” you were born with rises to the surfaces and shines through your being. Fear no longer defines your days and nights; light does. And trust in something greater than the mind’s limited view. Your inner vision expands to encompass a magnificence and grace that spans all time and space.

Does every human soul eventually experience this as an incarnated being on planet Earth? I don’t know for certain. I can only express what I myself am living through. Still, the trust I carry within me whispers that this is the destiny of all human beings: to see the true nature of life and what appears to be mortality. In the calendar of life, the days we are given at first seem long, then short, then eventually become infinite, timeless—and “precious” beyond life, death, and meaning itself.

“You are infinity dancing in impermanence.”—Panache Desai

Seeds of Life

My second chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer took place on 2 Qanil in the Maya calendar. The sacred symbol Qanil stands for “the seed that generates life and creation.” For me, a perfect analogy, because I envisioned life’s seeds of light and love being transmitted to me via the infusions, at the same time that I felt them radiating out from me in my own vibration. This is the circular process of God creating God in the world. We each embody God in our physical forms, and God experiences life through our experiences. As we create, or express our soul selves, God is creating simultaneously. The entire universe is a divinely designed participatory symphony of living light and love. I feel this almost continuously now.

Everything I experience arises from this awareness. During my treatment, the meditations I listened to were Panache Desai’s “Eight Beatitudes.” His words gently carried me along (“You as you have known yourself are dissolving. There is a powerful transformation unfolding within your being….The splendor and magnificence of your soul and the God within revealed.”). The accompanying instrumentals (Pachelbel’s Canon, Ava Maria, Unchained Melody, etc.) had a similar effect. Tears repeatedly filled my eyes as I looked out at the rain and wind blowing leaves from the trees—a choreographed dance of sight and sound. Everything I saw with my physical eyes, heard with my physical ears, and felt with my physical body aligned exactly with my soul’s experience of Life at that moment in time. A blessing—and another blessing just to be aware of that blessing. Gratitude filled my heart and soul.

Later, when I described this experience to a friend of mine, she reminded me that she too has written about the awakening of our souls and the inner guidance that accompanies that,* which explains why I had thought of her during the meditations. We are all here to receive these truths, to bring forward from our past lives and varied traditions the light of awareness and wisdom, sharing with all those we encounter during this bridging time into a future of infinite possibilities. We are a soul family flowing together from and to the source of all being in the multiverse.

This journey I am on with breast cancer is an expansion and opening beyond anything I could have imagined earlier in my life. I was not religious or spiritual growing up, yet I experienced God in Nature in every moment of my childhood in the Illinois countryside. The Spirit within my soul guided me on an ever-widening path to immersion in divine consciousness. We are each on these paths, in our own ways. That is why we are alive at this time. Sooner or later, we all will awaken to cosmic awareness and a sense of oneness with all we see. Even in the midst of challenges or pain, the seeds of life are growing and will eventually flower.

The language you use to express this doesn’t matter. It is the opening of your own heart and soul that will move you forward and ultimately connect you to every form of life you encounter: other humans, animals, plants, insects, trees, rocks, stars, planets. Each part has the whole inside it. You are a sacred imprint of divinity on this planet, in this universe, carrying the seeds of life within you. Awaken to the blessing you are.
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*Laurel Geise, The Jesus Seeds, Igniting Your Soul-Guided Life.

Shedding

In the second week after my first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, I began to lose my hair. Like a white angora cat, I shed hairs everywhere: on my clothing, in the shower drain, on my chair, in my hairbrush. Sometimes they drifted down onto my shoulders like cherry blossoms in the springtime; other times they clumped like small snowdrifts on my pillow. All of it strangely fascinating to me, as if they were bits of my identity falling away, freeing me even further at a soul level.

That may seem an odd way to view it; yet the process feels symbolic of a larger shedding that occurs as I clear out the clutter of a lifetime of identities. To be human is to move through many experiences and identities. I used to gather identities like flowers in a basket (flower child, activist, feminist, lesbian, writer, editor, spiritual seeker), feeling glad that I was eclectic and not tied to any one self-identification. I felt freer that way. As the years went by and my spiritual practice expanded, I began to realize that freedom is a much more expansive designation when viewed from the soul’s perspective.

The soul is pure being. It has no identity in the way we think of that term. The soul comes into physical form to experience life as a human and to evolve and expand its beingness. It has no attachment to any one identification we may claim as we pass through our lives. When we begin to drop attachments to particular identities, the soul moves to the forefront of our experience. We begin to experience being in an entirely new way. And we see more clearly, and intensely, the world we are passing through here on Earth.

I first experienced this “dropping” of identity when years ago (2005), I was invited to travel to Guatemala with Maya elders Mercedes and Gerardo to participate in ceremonies at sacred sites there. I was both honored and excited because the Mayan cosmology held great meaning for me. However, the “gateway” I had to pass through was the fact that women traditionally wear long dresses at every ceremony. As a lesbian feminist, I had not worn a dress in 30 years; consequently I found my attachment to that particular identity being challenged. In my heart, I knew there was no way that I would ever turn down such a precious invitation from the elders. So that meant opening to a different way of being in the world. At the time, I experienced this as a complete falling away of who I had been before and going to Guatemala “naked” at the soul level. I honored the Maya tradition by wearing a beautiful long skirt, and in the process, I stepped into magical interdimensional experiences at the sacred ceremonies, beyond language and definitely beyond identity.

As I continued on my soul journey over the years, I found that the more I dropped identification with any identity at all, the more I experienced a beingness without beginning or end …. and the more I knew God, or Spirit, in a way I never had before. Ultimately, I came to understand that the final realization is that all identity is an illusion. Our identities are merely the costumes, or disguises, that we put on for this human ride; when we take them off, all that remains is Spirit.

So this is where I am now. Yet another identity falling away with the hair on my head. Perhaps one of the last identifications and attachments: to my physical form and what I look like. Once again, soul-naked before the universe. One definition of the word bald is “undisguised” or “unveiled.” The process of life often removes our protective veils and disguises if we don’t do it ourselves. Either way, it is liberation for the soul. I can feel that. To live my life as pure spirit, unfiltered and free. It is our collective human destiny to shed identity and shine the light of soul presence in this world.

A Camino: Firewalk and Life Streaming

When I first heard the diagnosis “breast cancer,” I was lost in shock and fear. How could this happen in my life? To me?! After a few days, I gradually was able to re-center in the peace within me, to remember that everything that happens in my life is part of a soul plan that I was part of designing before my birth. Nothing is a coincidence, and everything is connected to everything else. I am one soul in one lifetime on one planet. Yet I am also part of the entire fabric of being in the universe. Sometimes it takes loss or crisis in our lives to fully realize this. When things fall away or apart, the long view becomes more visible.

Illness or disease can stop you short in your tracks and remind you of your own mortality. Even if you think you are unattached to outcome or completely surrendered to however events unfold. Even if you feel connected to a greater consciousness beyond life and death. There is always more surrender available, deeper all the time. And there is always more letting go of attachment—until there’s nothing left but soul. The physical body holds within it the last attachment. You definitively let go of that attachment at death. But you can also let go of it as part of life. This is what is meant by “dying unto yourself.” You release attachment not only to your identity but to your physical form. You live your life as your soul, immersed in peaceful Presence. The same immersion in Presence that occurs at death. Only you are radiantly alive and aware.

I have experienced times of surrender and Presence on my spiritual journey, but when breast cancer came into my life, I stepped onto an accelerated path: my own Camino.* The more I trusted that I was being divinely guided on this path, the more everything flowed. During and after surgery, I felt surrounded by angelic healers, floating in profound Oneness. My physical form seemed almost nonexistent. I returned home to heal and rest quietly. A week later, the pathology report showed wide clear margins—excellent! Then my surgeon told me that new test results indicated I should probably include chemotherapy in my treatment plan along with radiation. I had already accepted the latter, but the combo frightened me. Attachment to my body as it currently looked and felt was front and center. I was being asked to dive even deeper into acceptance and surrender.

My breast-cancer-survivor friends helped me with this acceptance (as did my very knowledgeable and kind doctors), but then my own inner genie handed me a vision that changed the way I saw everything. During a powerful meditation one morning, I suddenly understood what breast cancer represented in my life. In my mind’s eye, I saw an image of burning coals, like those used in the traditional firewalk, practiced by many cultures for thousands of years as a rite of faith, healing, or initiation. Immediately, I knew that for me radiation and chemo were the “burning coals,” and that I would safely “walk” through them as I surrendered attachment to my body and trusted my soul’s journey. My Camino walk is a fire of initiation, transmutation, and expansion beyond the physical. I envisioned myself afterward as pure soul light. No attachments, just life streaming through eternity in timeless splendor.

This is our collective destiny: to walk through humanity’s fires and emerge as light, each in our own way. Every person’s journey is unique. Each soul path divinely orchestrated. On the other side of our firewalks is a Presence that permeates the universe in life and in death. In truth, they are one: infinite beingness. When we realize that, all fear falls away, and we can live our lives with peaceful, open hearts and souls.
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*The Camino is a well-known path of spiritual pilgrimage across northern Spain.