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  • Writer's pictureSusan Plunket

"What Are We Doing Here?"

One morning when I was in first grade sitting at my little desk on my little chair on the bulletin board side of the classroom, I had been moved away from the window side of the room for day dreaming too much, my teacher, Miss McGinness, stopped next to me and leaned over to inspect my arithmetic. I hadn't finished it yet because I had a question on my mind, the same question I often thought about. So I asked her, "What are we all doing here on Earth?"

"What do you mean?" Said Miss McGinness?

"Why are we here? What are we here for?" I said.

Miss McGinness looked down at me from what seemed a great height to my small six year old body and declared more than asked, "Aren't you Catholic?"

I said that I was. "Well then," she said as she walked away.

I was confused. What could being Catholic have to do with my question? At six I didn't connect going to church on Sunday with all the things I wondered about when I lay outside on the grass and looked up at the sky. It would be another fifty years before I figured out the answer to my first grade question. And the answer is so simple. We're here to learn how to love everybody as one being, to understand that we're all nodes or sparks of light on one light net, one cosmic being, all of us together. All species, all races within species, are part of this one being.

Though the answer is simple it didn't come all at once. First I had to learn that loving all beings as one was the path. For me that's both a spiritual and a political statement. If you love everyone as you love yourself how could you rip a child from it's mother's arms and put that child in a cage as he cries for her. How could you kneel on a man's neck ignoring his pleas for mercy until he is dead? Or tell a grown man of seventy who has come to vote that he must tell you the number of jelly jeans in the large full jar on the table before he can exercise his right? Or knowingly allow poison water to flow from the faucets of an entire community? Or lie about a deadly virus to get people back to work so you have a better chance of being re-elected?

Though it seems simple to love all as one, it wasn't easy to put in practice. First I had to wrestle my selfishness, greed and fear to the ground. That's ongoing work. It's so much easier to project all the things I don't like about myself onto others. But that's a dead end. So I had to discover a different way forward and realize there are only two states - love and fear. Fear takes many forms, jealousy, anger, hatred, to mention only a few and they all feel bad. Being in a state of love for all beings feels good. Since I learned that I've been a lot more peaceful.

Then there is the next step, consciously living with the awareness that all of us are one being, much like different cells in one body, or sparks of light in one giant light. I'm a little clumsy putting this into words. It's a challenging state to hold to live as if we are all part of one being. I work on it every day and often fail when fear creeps in and I then have to retrace my steps back to the truth that we're all one and to what that means for how I live my life.

I wish I could go back in what we think of as time and speak to my six year-old self and ask her what other questions she has that I've forgotten and tell her that her questions are what got me to my present consciousness. Then I would introduce her to Soonam, our Higher Self, and we three who are one being could lie in the grass and look together through the dark to see the stars.


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