Living and Dying
“I declare that you must be reborn.” (140.6.2, 1576.2)
This command is very important. To be reborn means that you first must die. Of course, this teaching invokes the spiritual meaning, not the cessation of physical life. Since the body and mind do not die with this rebirth in the spirit, what exactly does? What must die before something new can be reborn?
If it’s not the physical self that must die to be reborn, perhaps then it’s our preoccupation with the material self, endless thoughts about ourselves. When a spiritual aspirant is told that to see nirvana, discover their soul, or achieve union with God, that he must be reborn—the fear of death is inevitably triggered. It’s a natural fear, though God has told us that we live again, even proved it one Sunday morning. Yet even a unique and holy resurrection may fail to stifle our preoccupation with self since deep instinct repels us from death and dying. We may believe our spirit self transcends time and space, but death remains a powerful mystery for the living. The rebirth teaching is one more spiritual paradox for us tadpoles; for us to progress, something of us must die, anathema to a fearful self.
We rest and relax, we pray and worship, because stress and anxiety are the enemies of healthy body and mind, because jagged thoughts and emotions subdue the spirit. When we are stressed and anxious, we are clogged with self, usually. Concerns about our lives and our loved ones must be addressed, it’s true. But most of the routine fears that distract and distress us trend into self-welfare, even self-obsession. Legitimate concern about our daily bread is so often overlaid with petty worries, restricting the flow of vital spirit currents. “What he preached against was not forethought but anxiety, worry” (140.8.3). Yet we may always choose baptism in the living water, releasing the flow to spirit-thirsting souls. Jesus taught his followers this truth: “I am the living water” (182.1.11).
The self exhibits a range of maturity, or evolution. The best spiritual advice is not to “kill your self,” but to “grow your self,” from the naturally selfish child to the wise selfless adult. The approach taught by Jesus lends dignity to the self, a component of our personality.
What he aimed at in his life appears to have been a superb self-respect. He only advised man to humble himself that he might become truly exalted; what he really aimed at was true humility toward God. He placed great value upon sincerity — a pure heart. (140.8.20, 1582.1)
Prayer is self-reminding — sublime thinking; worship is self-forgetting — superthinking. Worship is effortless attention, true and ideal soul rest, a form of restful spiritual exertion. (143.7.7, 1616.9)
The journey of transformation, to being grown in the spirit, is dramatic but not necessarily traumatic! Personality is the container and unifier of our self, a precious gift from Father because each one is unique. We can trust that growth can—and will be—accommodated within the protective sphere of our personality, since, subject to our free-will fusion decision, progress is an eternal process. The assurance of personality survival is the flagship of faith.
Thus, an intellectual and spiritual grasp of immortality is the foundation of personal progress. The full and absolute embrace of personality survival is the secret to the most joyous existential sigh of relief a mortal being may experience. This faith attitude removes all fears and anxieties about death; it promotes living to our full potential.
Our Master’s most dramatic lessons focused attention on the fact and truth of immortality. Lazarus survived death. Jesus survived death. So will you. Relax. Focus on being grown. Pray. Worship. Rinse away the clog with the living water of Jesus.