What is life for? So many things seem important; there are so many things to do. All of them are vying for our attention, and our interests drive our lives via the many seemingly small and insignificant choices we make each day.

But what is it that is ultimately important? Why does this world, with all its limitations, struggle, opposition, and darkness exist? I believe the answer is fundamentally quite simple—that this world exists for us (consciousness) to learn about who we are. The ancients called this self-knowledge.

The ever increasing number of recorded near-death experiences (NDEs) provide some of the most compelling evidence for this. Floating away from their bodies, no longer constrained by the physical world and soaring into the majesty of an eternal and spiritual realm, the experiences of those who have died and been sent back share many consistent and common themes.

All of a sudden, the career, the kids, the TV, the projects they were working on are totally gone, and many are faced with what is called a “life review” in which they experience every moment of their life all over again, but feeling in a profound way not only what they went through, but also how their own actions made others feel. This learning is the sum total of what they took from the life they’d left behind.

What was important was not what they’d learnt from reading or degrees, or watching videos or the news, but from their interactions with others. Most of all—how they had treated those around them. It’s easy to get caught in the events of life and to miss what is really important; it’s easy to go off on tangents of just acquiring intellectual knowledge and information (even of a spiritual kind), and feel a sense of progress. But an intellectual knowledge is totally different from self-knowledge, which is based on conscious experience.

In NDEs there are no congratulations for becoming a bestseller, and no one else to blame for whatever they did or didn’t do. There is no special treatment for the famous or the expert – everyone is graded by their level of consciousness.

Many who’ve had an NDE also describe experiencing an understanding and knowledge of the universe from a spiritual perspective that was beyond words, and that this understanding was instantaneous. It becomes apparent then, that the understanding they had to get in life was not even about the universe itself, but about who they are.

This video interviews a number of people who had an near-death experience, with many of them recalling a life review and being guided as to what was important in their lives.

As my husband Mark writes, life is a school for consciousness; sometimes people from NDEs are told to go back to learn and do more. He explains how the higher part of our being has chosen for us to be here, whatever our circumstance, and our job while we’re here is to learn about ourselves and realize our full inner potential. It is the one type of understanding that can’t be gained anywhere else or in any other way, and is what this world is for. The understanding of the world around us only serves as a mirror in which we can see ourselves more clearly.

Like any school, life has different grades and levels, and someone can progress to higher and higher levels of learning the more they grow in consciousness (and all its qualities like love and peace); graduation from this school of life is called enlightenment, but the learning is infinite. The interactions we have each day are what we are being graded on. How we spend our day, is how we spend our year, and how we spend our life etc.; it’s important to get it right and actively determine where we are headed through our own learning.

The struggle against darkness in the world, and the wish to spread the light of truth, brings even greater opportunities for learning as well as creating them for others too. Someone working for truth in the world, for example, is going to learn more about who they are as well as help others to realize the same, than someone who spends their life in front of a television and even shut away in a meditation room.

Today, is an important day. There is something each of us has to take from it right now and use in the eternal journey of our consciousness.

[Jesus said] Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself. And I know that you have understood, because you had already understood that I am the knowledge of the truth. So while you accompany me, although you are uncomprehending, you have (in fact) already come to know, and you will be called ‘the one who knows himself’. For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depth of the all.
~ Jesus to Thomas from The Book of Thomas the Contender

His disciples asked him and said to him, “Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?” Jesus said, “Don’t lie, and don’t do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed.”
~ The Gospel of Thomas

Lara Atwood