We have grown up knowing that we are born on this planet and we will eventually die when our time comes. So, we learn from our experiences and work towards a certain goal and live according to societal norms and hope our goals are attained before we die. The idea of death can be something that we fear or something that we accept as human beings, because we are mortal beings. That being said, we ensure that our lives are safe and secure, so as not to “die”, or hurt ourselves physically.
However, as we go on with our lives and start living, we come across various other concepts in relation to spirituality and religion.
According to various religions and belief systems, we are introduced to an aspect called spiritual death and rebirth. Here we find that we live in a multi-dimensional universe where we as human beings can connect to ourselves and consciousness as a whole. This is achieved when one chooses to pick a path that is spiritual in nature. Something that connects with them on a deeper level, which can bring them happiness and bliss ultimately. The spiritual path is a path less taken. It is a hard one, for those who don’t understand or who are uncomfortable with going beyond what our mind has been conditioned to believe and perceive. There’s a lot of undoing of belief systems, societal norms, preconceived notions and really being true to you or your soul, so to speak.
Spiritual death meanings and definitions
The word death could really put you off, but according to Buddhism and various other Asian religions and practices, they don’t mean physical death. As a person begins their spiritual journey, there’s a lot that comes up. We understand that “death” refers to shedding or letting go of all the illusions of what we think we are or who we think we are. These can be achieved through spiritual practices and Vipassana is one of the ways to get there. Vipassana is also termed as insight practice, through long hours of meditation, one point focus and concentration. One can delve into consciousness and gain insight into yourself by practicing mediation, mindfulness and awareness.
We come to find that as we go on with life, our true selves or spirit starts getting clouded under the weight of the world. The pressure we feel from the outside, responsibilities, stress, life, circumstances, loss and most of all, grief.
When a person chooses to go on a spiritual journey to find themselves, they basically shed this idea of themselves and let go to truly embrace who they are. This can be termed as spiritual death, just as a snake sheds its skin to give room to new and healthy skin, human beings can also experience shedding.
We are also aware of the Christian representation of spiritual death, where the idea or concept of spiritual death can have a variety of meanings in different contexts. Spiritual death, according to Christians, is a life away from God or a life that does not include the idea or belief of God. This translates to a person who is not spiritual as he/she identifies or connects with their physical being rather than their spirit or the spirit of God.
Overall, we can conclude with the idea that spiritual death is the death of an idea of you/ego. Contemplations such as this can lead to a loosening of the human tendency to grasp onto life, and opening up to the ultimate mystery of our true nature.
How does a person spiritually die?
According to eastern religions and beliefs, to ensure or go on this path, there are certain spiritual practices to follow and ingrain into your life. There are rituals that are also involved that cater to the journey towards spiritual death. There are a few obstacles or ideas that a person will have to overcome on their spiritual journey. Here they eventually give up material aspirations, and forgiveness becomes second nature. A person on this path usually has a guru or spiritual guide who is present to guide and discuss their state of mind at different intervals. Long hours of meditation to connect with the inner consciousness is clearer and the true “I” becomes the main point of concentration or focus.
Spiritual rebirth meaning and ideas
The Christian scriptures call the process or idea of salvation or accepting God/Christ into their lives again as rebirth. The doctrine of washing off all your sins and being born again by the simple act of accepting Christ as their one true Savior. There isn’t any ritual or path taken to reach this, except truly having faith in God.
According to the West or Christianity in general, people who are born again have basically experienced a big change in heart. Born again persons have experienced this mighty change of heart. They do not desire or glory in evil, but glory in good. They are eager to listen to the voice of the Spirit, the Light of Christ, the prophets, and the scriptures. They are willing to be the light that has been shown on them by God/Christ. The negative aspects of a human being, such as lust, greed, hatred, selfishness, and more are temptations. But they are on a path to control these feelings with the help of the belief that Christ will protect them from all of it.
In some traditions, the Gift of the Holy Ghost is offered to a person who is spiritually reborn.
On the other hand, according to eastern beliefs, a person goes on with their spiritual journey and attains spiritual death after following their true intuition. And with the help of all these spiritual practices, he/she is reborn.
Rebirth in this context is not a physical one where your flesh is reborn, rather, a person’s spirit and being is wholly accepted. A spiritually reborn person will now live a life where lower emotions like selfishness, greed and materialistic ideas will be replaced by wisdom, compassion and understanding. In Buddhism, this person has been reborn and the new being attains Bodhisattva.
Generally speaking, this person feels refreshed, new and looks at the world in a much different and calm manner. In a way, their eyes have been open to their true nature. Now, they will live their lives without being controlled or swayed by their ego.
If we can wrap our heads around the fact that death can mean something other than physical death. We can understand what the spiritual death and rebirth concept is.
We can come to a conclusion that spiritual death has varied meanings, but the one concept that stands out is the death of our ego.
A person on this spiritual path can attain spiritual death and rebirth through a series of rituals and practices. The main practice that seems to lead them there is the practice of meditation and mindfulness. By practicing this, a person can let go of the dominant ego that motivates negative aspects such as selfishness, anger and resentment. This will eventually leave room for positive aspects such as love, compassion, and wisdom. When this happens, the person attains spiritual death and gives way to his/her true self.
The idea that the true self is pure and non-egoistic is also an Eastern belief. This is very different when compared to the western belief that human beings are sinners and God/Christ is the purest form/soul.
What we can understand is the fact that human beings are capable of being the change that they want to be. Even a person who does not choose the path of spirituality can practice meditation and one-point focus. By doing this, he/she can become more mindful and aware of his/her actions, which will ultimately lead to shedding of previous or conditioned beliefs.
We are all in this world to live a life where we can evolve and grow from each experience. Spiritual rebirth would be the purest form. Where a person can attain this state of bliss and happiness as he or she practices spiritual and one-point focus for long hours.
However, everyone can also start doing things that connect with themselves more. Having goals that involve growth and non-violence makes us more aware. Rebirth can mean awakening of the spirit. This could also mean holding space for more gratitude and accepting the good things that happen in our lives. In comparison to a spiritual path, there may not be spiritual enlightenment after rebirth, but there will be growth.
In the end, building awareness and mindfulness in everything that we do can help us live a better life. Not holding on to negative experiences and thoughts by meditating and letting go will go a long way.
These ideas and thoughts are very thought-provoking. They seem to also give you a sense of hopefulness in this world that can seem very dark at times. We can start to be more mindful and try to clear our minds from all the clutter of our thoughts.