I'm always looking for new questions for people to use for self-exploration in my classes on creating ethical or spiritual wills. In reading Deepak Chopra's new book, Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, I found seven questions he poses are necessary for knowing "Who am I?":
1. What is your story? Your story is more than just a list of the events in your life. It's about your self-image, how you see yourself, what shaped your mind, which memories imprinted themselves on you. Taken altogether, your story tells you where you are in the cycle of life.
2. What are your expectations? Expectations are seeds. Once planted, they manifest into those things we gain from life, or lose. When you become aware of your own expectations, you discover the unspoken limits you have set on yourself. There is a huge difference between those who expect great things and those who don't.
3. What is your purpose? This is the meaning you are trying to find. Purpose runs deeper than the superficial things we hope to get, which mostly center on money, possessions, status, and comfort. If you know your purpose, you know the deeper project to which your life is dedicated.
4. What is your destination? This is about fulfillment. Human goals are endless; they unfold, not like a road that has an end but like a river that flows to join the sea, merging with ever larger possibilities. If you know your destination, you can envision your highest fulfillment.
5. What is your path? Having identified your purpose and your destination, there must be a way to get there. "Path" has been adopted as a spiritual term, but in fact everyone, spiritual or not, follows certain ways to get where they want to go.
6. Who are your adversaries? Forward motion is never without obstacles. On your path you will find yourself blocked. At times the adversary is external, but if you examine yourself deeply, you will find it is always internal as well.
7. Who are your allies? We all bring others with us on our journey. Just as your adversaries did, you may identify these allies as external, but they only reflect your own inner strength, just as an opponent reflects your inner vulnerability."
Chopra goes on to say that "what we know right now is immediate and personal: how we feel, what we want, whom we love. And that's enough. The decisions we make determine how life proceeds. We don't go through life simply making good choices and bad ones. We go through life making who we are. Choice is the hand that shapes the raw clay of a person."
What choices have you made in your life that have shaped the "raw clay" to become the person you are? Who are you making as a result of your life choices?
I encourage you to answer the "Seven Questions" and, if you're interested in how scientific discoveries and the wisdom traditions provide a map to the afterlife, read Chopra's book. It's a fascinating look at how your expectations, beliefs, and level of awareness in the "here and now" can shape what happens after you die.