by Jonathan Robinson, M.A., M.F.T.: The Near Death Questions.
Back in the mid 1970’s, Dr. Raymond Moody wrote a book titled Life After Life in which people described their experience of temporarily “dying” and then being brought back to life. Perhaps the most striking element of the book was the fact that people reported extremely similar events upon being pronounced dead. Almost all people who had a near death experience (NDE) noted they heard certain sounds, went through a tunnel, and eventually encountered a bright light that seemed to emanate love. Upon further investigation, various researchers discovered that most people who have had this experience felt they were asked two questions during the time of their “death.” No matter what culture a person was from, or what religious beliefs they held, the two questions were always pretty much the same. I think of these two questions as the “final exam” of our life. They represent what God or our Higher Self is ultimately concerned about as we journey through our brief tenure on Earth.
In order to align ourselves with “God’s mission” for us, it’s helpful to know what these two questions are. The first question people report they are “asked” when having an NDE is, “What did you learn about being able to love?” It’s probably no coincidence that almost every religious and spiritual tradition points to love as its core teaching and goal. In order to experience a deeper level and purity of love, there are many spiritual practices that have been passed down through the ages. For example, service to those in need, praying for others, and certain types of meditation can all be seen as methods to help us learn more about the experience of love. When we focus on feeling love for God and for all the people in our life, we become more aligned with our higher purpose.
The second question that arises for people who are near death is more complex than the first. Yet, there is still an amazing amount of agreement as to what is basically being asked. Roughly translated, the second question is, “How well did you use your gifts to live your unique life purpose?” Implied in this question is that we each have some specific contribution to make. Our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to figure out what our particular gifts are, and how we can use them to better the world.
Six years ago, before I had heard of the “near death questions,” I had an NDE as a result of a car accident. Although I was being tossed around in a van that had overturned at high speeds, the two questions were my immediate companions. While close to death, I had the chance to review my life in relationship to the two questions. I was able to see where I had successfully aligned myself with “God’s mission for me,” and where I had not. When I was asked about how well I had served my unique purpose on Earth, I immediately understood that there were some books I was “supposed” to write that I had not yet written. Upon recovering from the accident, I soon began writing. In just four years, while maintaining a full time job, I’ve managed to write seven books and get them all published. People often ask me, “How have you been able to write so many books in so little time?” I tell them, “When you feel aligned with your Higher Self, you become filled with more energy than usual, and things can happen very quickly.”
What are your unique talents and abilities? How can you use these gifts to contribute to the people around you and the world at large? How much have you learned about being able to love, and what still keeps you from being a more loving person? These are difficult questions to ponder. However, as you attempt to answer them, you can become more aligned with the underlying purpose and meaning of your life. In this age of countless distractions, it’s more important than ever to keep track of the basic “tasks” our Creator has given to each of us. Only a life lived “on purpose,” can feel truly meaningful, satisfying, and fulfilling.
A couple of years ago, I decided to ask myself the two “near death questions” on a regular basis. Now I take time about once a month to get quiet inside, ask the two questions, and then think about the answers. I ponder how effective I’ve been in learning about love and living my unique mission during the previous four weeks. By reviewing my life in this way, I gain valuable insights, and become inspired to stay even more aligned in the future. It helps me get back on track when I’ve veered from what is truly important—which is often. Yet, simply knowing I’m “accountable” to the near death questions on a regular basis has helped me stay on track more regularly. Try asking them to yourself right now, and then a month from now, and see if they can help you become more aligned to what’s really important.