8 August 2004 | Draft
Varieties of Rebirth
distinguishing ways of being "born
- / -
This document provides a structured overview of the variety of web resources concerned
with rebirth in some form. It provides links to a separate document, an annex,
offering brief excerpts from such resources or introducing them: Web
Resources on Being "Born Again": Annex to Varieties of Rebirth
(2004). The materials were gathered for a separate study: Strategic
Opportunities of the Twice Born: reflections on systemic camouflage of mass deception
Cultural rebirth (renaissance, aesthetic birth, mytho-poesis)
Socio-religious rebirth (birthright, destiny, reincarnation, socal
status, ceremony, ritual, group affiliation, games, sports)
Psycho-behavioural rebirth (sin-to-virtue, changing patterns of
Developmental rebirth (education, perspective, initiation, cultural
Therapeutical rebirth (release from trauma, mentors, self-help,
Cognitive perspective (metacognition, critical thinking, philosophy,
aesthetic sensibility, orders of thinking, systematics, orders of abstraction,
disciplines of action)
Experiential rebirth (operacy, flow, embodiment of mind, speaking
with God, born-again, possession, psychedelic experience, embodiment in
song, spiritual rebirth)
There are a number of threads that indicate quite different senses of being
"born again". These threads may interweave to reinforce each other
-- or may reflect contrasting, even incommensurable, understandings or experiences.
In a larger multi-dimensional scheme all these threads may together constitute
a larger fabric of insight to which humanity has yet only partial access.
The threads or clusters explored are tentatively ordered in terms of increasing
experiential implications for the individual. Two "paths" may be distinguished
to relate the clusters
[resources] This is significant as an exciting context from which
individuals may benefit. However its scope, as possibly recognized only with
the hindsight of historical commentary, may well beyond the capacity of any
to recognize in the moment.
- Renaissance as a metaphor: Here the focus is on cultural rebirth,
after a period of decay or some form of "dark ages". The European
Renaisance is a prime example. Such metaphorical use is also employed
to promote a new renaissance, as in the case of European renewal (see
Renaiisance Europe), to counteract the erosion of quality of life. The
term has also been applied to zones in which a form of collective rebirth
takes place (see Renaissance Zones)
- Aesthetic rebirth: A typical characteristic of rebirth is in
relation to art, due to the rich cross-fertilization of insights and perspectives.
Although this may be more immediately evident, it is to be noted that
it is characterized by presenting works for view, with little attention
to their effect on the observer -- it is the art that is reborn and only
secondarily the appreciator thereof.
- Mytho-poesis: This is the larger story that is told, through
epic works of art, to explain and give coherence to a period or a sense
of a larger temporal context. It offers links to the distant past and
serves to bind its relevance to the present. It offers symbols to which
people may relate and which provide a framework for stories of psychological
significance to the extent that the symbols are activated in the individual
psyche. Many births refer to the birth process with specific exemplars
recognized as "twice-born" or "thrice-born" (as with
Hermes Trismegistus). For Louise Cowan (Epic
as Cosmopoesis. , 1992): "If we read epic poems with attentiveness,
putting aside preconceived ideas about the dominance of the patriarchal
virtues, we see in them something of a palimpsest, indicating that nations
are not only 'twice-' but 'thrice-born'"
[resources]: Here the focus is on socially recognized processes
(notably religion), irrespective of the experiential implications for the individual.
Such experiential significance may be deliberately attributed to these processes
and claims may be made in this respect, but the various dimensions of being "reborn"
are here considered primarily in terms of their "external" social implications.
These may not preclude an "inner" experiential sense of having been
"born again" (discussed later), but they should not be understood to
- Birthright: According to some belief systems, being reborn is a birthright.
In Hindusim, for example, males in three castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and
Vysyas) are declared to be "twice born" once
they have engaged in a special ceremony at puberty. In this sense any members
of a hereditary aristocracy could be considered "twice-born".
- Destiny: Some individuals, whatever the circumstances of their birth,
are recognized as having a special destiny which distinguishes them from ordinary
human beings. The much-documented story of recognition of the Dalai Lama is
of this kind. The individual is recognized as "reborn" -- or in
that case as a reincarnation. This category can also be extended to include
those peoples "chosen by God" for a special destiny, or in some
- Reincarnation: This is a form of rebirth that is central to many
religions and was once a feature of Christianity [more].
- Social status: Advancement within any social structure, with the
acquisition of status, may reach a stage at which an individual passes a threshold
or "breaks through" into another class recognized as being specially
privileged, merit-worthy and otherwise distinct from ordinary people. In some
cases this may be purely by marriage, by successful use of wealth, by bribery,
or by patronage, or by achievement. The individual is effectively "reborn"
in the eyes of others (as well as his/her own) and may choose to recognize
this by symbols -- such as a new "look" (clothes, for example).
- Recovery: The process by which an individual recovrs from a life-threatening
accident (including a near-death experience), from substance abuse, or
from other disasters, may be perceived and experienced as a form of rebirth.
The person is "born again".
- Social "death and rebirth": The "death" experienced
may be primarily social in that the person dies to society or is treated
as dead -- possibly as the result of a scandal or conviction for a crime.
Recovery from such a condition may again be perceived and experienced
as being "born again" -- possibly to be repeated. The most frequently
cited example is the recovery of the famous evangelist from being caught
with a prostitute as decribed by Michael J. Giuliano (Thrice Born:
The Rhetorical Comeback of Jimmy Swaggart, 1999)
- Political rebirth: The experience of political failure (or "death")
by politicians, and their recovery from it, may be described as a rebirth.
The probable electoral successes of Tony Blair, John Howard and George
Bush, following the shambles of their initiative in Iraq, are described
politically as being "born again". Many politicians have been
nicknamed as "Come Back Kid": Bill Clinton, Ehud
Kerry, Peter Mandelson.
- Financial rebirth: Many entrepreneurs experience cycles of success
and failure as "deaths" and "rebirths". They may be
described as "dead" as a result of failure (and association
with impromper deals) and may be recognized as "born again",
once their fortunes improve again. Like politicians
- Ceremony and ritual: Society may use a particular prescribed ritual
to signal rebirth. The ceremony may be understood as actually triggering that
rebirth -- if only because of the symbolism of the ritual as layed down in
sacred writings, for example.
- Rite of passage: symbolic death in the context of the initiation
of boys into manhood. The boys' childhood identity must die so that they
may be reborn as men in the community. This process almost universally
involves a ritual in which the initiate must feel the terror of an encounter
with death, frequently combined with the imprint of intense physical pain,
by circumcision or through having a tooth knocked out.1 While such rites
of passage do to some degree constitute a secret (from the women and young
boys) initiation, they are more concerned with acculturation into society
than with true spiritual initiation.
- Baptism and confirmation: For Catholics, the baptism of an infant
ensures and signals that it is "reborn". For other Christian
religion, it is baptism (possibly total immersion) as an adult that constitutes
"rebirth". As an adult, the ceremony may involve a formal affirmation
through which the individual can claim to be "born
again" and is recognized as such. For non-Protestant Christians
(Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, etc) the ritual of confirmation
at puberty (or later) may be interpreted as a form of rebirth. There is
however controversy amongst Catholics as to the extent to which this can
be considered an "initiation". Typically the rituals of one
social group are not recognized as valid by others -- however the individual
may be understood to have been transformed
- Awards, prizes, medals: Social groups may choose to recognize
achievements that constitute a form of rebirth through awarding honours
and medals. The challenge of such ceremonies is typified by experiences
of some who have been transformed by heroci achievements (as in warfare)
but experience their transformation as completely diminished and degraded
by the process by which their achivement is recognized and a medal awarded.
The process may well have more to do with osicty's appropriation of "rebirth"
than with the personal significance of being "born again" through
- Anointment: In adulthood, the embodiment of the highest symbolic
roles may be marked by anointment. Examples include the anointment of pharaohs
and bishops. It may be typical in recognition of advancement within a priesthood.
- Group affiliation: Joining a groups may be perceived, experienced
and dezscribed as a form of rebirth -- of being "born into" the
group and its belief system. Becoming a Freemason has for example been described
as a third birth, or becoming "thrice-born".
- Games and sports: Competition creates situation of "death"
in the event of loss, and a form of "birth" in the event of success
(and being recognized and honoured as "champion") -- people are
"born again" or "reborn", especially after any previous
"death". Of particular interest are the complexities of interactive
internet games in which the participant operates competitively in a virtual
world through a personalized "avatar". Avatars may "die"
many times during the course of the game, through accident or combat, but
on each occasion then have opportunities to be "reborn". Such highly
popular games may be seen as offering a simulation of the cycle of life and
death that is a feature of the belief system of some religions.
[resources]: It is in this category that the possible behavioural
consequences of the forms of "rebirth" noted above may become significant
for the individual and recognizable to a degree by others. A religious community
may seek to facilitate such a shift in behaviour and to sustain those with a tendency
to backslide. The focus remains however on the outer manifestations of any inner
- From "sin" to "virtue": Typical examples are
the shift: from substance abuse (including eating disorders, alcohol, drugs);
from sexual promiscuity; from gambling; and from domestic violence. These
are themes that figure in the discourse of evangelists as necessary consequences
of being "born again". A successful diet may result in an experience
described as being "born again". However it is also the case that
individuals, from a condition of "virtue", may discover such "sins"
and be effectively "born again" into a life of sinfulness.
- Changing pattern of consumption: The emerging challenges to lifestyle,
quality of life and the condition of the environment, and the reduced availability
of non-renewable natural resources, may lead to changing patterns of consumption.
The psycho-behavioural conversion to such patterns can range from mild to
highly radical, as documented by Nadia McLaren (****). Efforts to downsize
lifestyle towards voluntary simplicity may be experienced as a rebirth, as
being "born again" into a new life -- possibly resulting from a
form of conversion experience.
- Conversion: This is the process which may well take place independently
of any ceremonial context -- or unforeseen by an individual in that context.
It is the process in which an individual has (or claims to have, or is considered
to have) a change of heart and mind.
- Political: At one extreme it may be a political conversion through
which the social strucrture is reinterpreted -- from/to communism or capitalism,
- Religious: For the religious, and typically Christian evangelicals
and fundamentalists, it is perceived as a significant transpersonal experience,
possibly triggered by the processes of a religious assembly. Through that
process the person is understood as having "born again" into
Christ. Since it may then evolve recitation of the "sinner's prayer",
there is a natural openness to the conversion of convicted criminals.
Some religious groups are more assiduous than others in seeking to test
and verify claims of a genuine change of heart and mind through a conversion
- Lifestyle: ***
[resources]: The following understandings of rebirth no longer
focus on preconditions but rather on a developmental pathway, or cycle, imbued
by emerging awareness of the subtleties of its guiding values, perhaps as "strange
attractors" (Values as***). The emphasis here might be understood as more
"descriptive" of the stages and their affective dimensions than on the
cognitive insights assocuiated with them (as discussed later).
- Education: An educational pathway (whether imposed, chosen, or the
consequence of circumstances), offers a succesion of steps at each of which
the person may be "born" into a new context. Any graduation may
be understood in that light. The new opportunities and freedoms may be experienced
as a form of "rebirth"
- Perspective: Life may be progressively understood, independently
of any formal education, as the acquisition of experience and maturity that
offer a new perspective on psycho-social dynamics and the identity of the
individual. Each new sense of perspective acquired may be experienced as a
form of "birth", or a "rebirth" -- the emphasis being
on the discovery of new viewpoints rather than subtler insights (discussed
below) that may be associated with such perspectives.
- Initiation: Traditionally the mystery schools of all ages have focused
on a sequence of initiations through which greater or more profound understanding
is progressively embodied. Whilst entry into Freesmasonry may be recognized
as a "third birth", some forms of Freemasonry recognize up to 33
"degrees" -- each presumably associated with a new level of insight.
- Cultural creativity: Independently of any particular therapy or experience,
and perhaps sustained by the cultural context, individuals may acquire a distinct
set of values, behaviours, perspectives and insights. Recent surveys have
identified the set of such people as "cultural creatives" -- significant
to the renaissance of society. The values may be associated with a form of
altruism, but not necessarily in its traditional philanthropic sense [more
- Individuation: Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy of the "healthy"
may focus on an individuation process (a journeying or life pilgrimage) through
which a person is successively reborn into new understandings -- notably guided
by inner imagery rather than inculcated by outer prescription.
- unborn, animals, blacks etc untermensch
- Nibiru, gods on earth
- achieving Nirvana: twice born capable of achieving Nirvana in any given
[resources]: In this cluster the focus is on the experiential
quality of the individual, of which any behavioural consequences are merely
symptoms. Here however the concern is with the actions of the therapist seeking
to facilitate the "rebirth" of the person. In an ideal spiritual or
religious community, this therapeutic preoccupation for the transformation of
the inner life of the person would be distinct from any preoccupation with its
outer consequences. The focus here might usefully be understood as being on
the preconditions for any subsequent acquisition of transforming insight.
- From anxiety, trauma and neurosis: As with the preceding "sins",
people may experience the release of these psychological constraints as a
process of being "born again".
- Midwifing the conversion rebirth: Evangelical assemblies seeking
to encourage conversions making extensive use of facilitation techniques to
bring about a healing process
- Psychotherapy: The many forms of psychotherapy are particularly focused
on means of facilitating a change of awareness than may be experienced and
labelled as a form of "rebirth" or feeling "born again".
One form of psychotherapy is termed "rebirthing".
- Mentors, tutors and coaches: Although such guides do not claim to
be qualified psychotherapists, they may offer insight specifically focused
on a shift in the attitude of the person (see Attitude Entrainment ****)
- Self-help: As the term indicates, this is a form of do-it-yourself
therapy that may offer the promise of being "born again" or "born
anew" -- or becoming a new person.
- Discipleship: Individual therapy may also be obtained through discipleship,
affiliation with a guru or master.
[(resources]: Here the emphasis is on knowledge and how it
is organized in terms of different levels of insight.
Metacognition: Educators recognize the role of metacognition at a very
early stage in cognitive development in children. Animal behaviourists seek
traces of it in animals. Its emergence is a form of "second birth".
Critical thinking: This is the capacity to reflect on thought processes
and to determine their adequacy to a situation. It is characteristic to different
degrees, of a number of disciplines and professions. The breakthrough into critical
capacity is intellectually a form of "second birth". It could be considered
basic to any form of "research". It is a necessary characteristic
of consultants in general (notably management consultants), therapists, professional
critics (art, drama, literary, etc). It is also a characteristic of sceptics
(cf the Sceptical Inquirer **). Management consultants in particular
are highly focused on the transition from an outmoded form of framing operational
reality to one that is more appropriate (eg Edward de Bono. From Rock Logic
to Water Logic). These transitions may be understood in terms of being cognitively
Philosophy: Whilst critical thinking may be essential to some forms
of philosophy, a philosophical perspective might be characterized primarily
by a radical search for comprehensive coherence -- engaging the knower with
the known. The point has perhaps been well made by the statement of Socrates
that "An unexamined life is not worth living" -- or the Delphic injunction
to "Know Thyself". A person's philosophical development may be marked
by various forms of "birth" into new understandings. The flavour is
also well carried by a book title of Mary Catherine Bateson (Composing a
Life ***) or by the experiment with reality that Mahatma Gandhi used to
frame his life (My Experiments with Truth***).
Aesthetic sensibility: For John Keats (Negative
Capability 21 December 1817), as a poet, the quality of knowing is as
important as the grasping after what may be known. He recognizes the need to
be "capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable
reaching after fact and reason". The sense of beauty then "overcomes
every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration". (see
inf qual ****). Achieving such heightened sensitivity is a form of rebirth.
Orders of thinking: Various efforts have been made to distinguish different
orders of thinking. The implication in this context, being that the discovery
of the relevance of a new order of thinking is a form of cognitive "birth"
- Cybernetics: For Francis Heylighen: "First order systems thinking
assumes that there is a 'real world' of systems that we can know, independent
of the observer. Second order thinking adds the dimension of the observer
into the approach. I contend that if we continue this process to a conceptual
3rd order thinking process, we'll realise that ONLY the observer is of any
significance. If external events are unregistered by the observer, it is
as if nothing has happened for that person. With this 3rd order (?) subjective
model, different items become important than with the so-called 'objective'
- Cognitive development: The model cognitive development of R Kegan
(In Over Our Heads: the Mental Demands of Modern Life. 1995), according
to Bernie Neville (Some
Gebserian and Keganesque Reflections on Academic Writing), proceeds
through a series of increasingly subtle subject-object differentiations.
- In infancy (first order thinking), subject and object are not differentiated.
- In early childhood (second order thinking) the immediate perception
moves from being the subject of experiencing to the object of experiencing.
The child identifies with her experience.
- In late childhood/early adolescence (third order thinking) cross-categorical
meaning-making becomes the subject which acts on the objects of experiencing.
The adolescent identifies with the contents of his mind.
- The older adolescent (fourth order thinking) can disidentify from
her thoughts (My thoughts are something I have, not something I am)
and becomes capable of reflecting critically on the contents of her
mind, which now become the object of her experiencing.
- The mature adult (fifth order thinking) can make a further subject-object
differentiation, disidentifying from the system of thinking which frames
fourth order consciousness and relativising its truths.
- Cognitive structures: Bernie Neville (Some
Gebserian and Keganesque Reflections on Academic Writing) acknowledges
that Kegan's model (see above) deals only with cognitive development. He
sees Jean Gebser's archaic and magic structures (The Ever Present Origin.
1985 ) in first and second order thinking.
- Third order thinking is grounded in the mythical structure. A great
deal of what we habitually refer to as "thinking" is a rationalisation
of myth. Our beliefs and reflections are collective, not individual,
enmeshed as they are in the taken-for-grantedness of our tribal narratives.
We can reason abstractly within a cohesive set of assumptions but fail
to disidentify from our reasoning, which is framed entirely by a consensus
view of reality which is identified with "truth" within our culture
- Fourth order thinking is grounded in the mental structure. We engage
in it when we leave the security of consensus reality and critically
reflect as individuals on the validity of our ideas.
- Fifth order thinking may then be thought of as a manifestation of
the integral structure. In Kegan's description we find reiteration of
essential characteristics of an aperpectival, ego-free, integral consciousness:...In
Gebser's notion of integrality and Kegan's notion of fifth order consciousness,
reality is manifested not only in the aggregation of complimentary and
incomplete "truths", but also in the contradictions and tensions between
them. Where mental/rational consciousness fragments reality, the efficient
integral consciousness "prehends the whole".
- Systems comprehension:
J. G. Bennett (The Dramatic Universe, 1956-1966) articulated
12 levels of systems comprehension to replace the dualistic Aristotelian
and Kantian categories (see Representation,
Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, 1978)
and developed an approach to organized complexity termed systematics
of which Anthony
Blake is now the key investigator. Comprehension of the systems proceeds
in a definite sequence, given their order of emergence into awareness and
the minimum number of terms required to exemplify their attributes. Although
systems of any number of terms may be considered in order to encompass whatever
degree of concreteness an individual is capable of grasping. The limitation
is one of understanding.
- Orders of abstraction: Alfred
and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics,
1933) proposes a focus on orders of abstraction in order to break away from
the limitations of daily language through new ways of "thinking"
He advocated 'thinking' on silent levels in terms of visual images, and
he developed many visual aids for his theories including the Structural
Differential, which in its most detailed form was a '3-dimensional' model
of the differences between the orders of abstraction. Differences between
the orders of abstraction include differences between verbal and non-verbal
levels, between descriptions and inferences, between descriptions (2) about
descriptions (1), between inferences (2) from inferences (1), between affect
(2) about affect (1), between what we see and the external stimuli themselves,
between one person's abstractions and another's abstractions, etc. [more]
However it is claimed that the relevant work done in recursion theory, linguistics,
artificial intelligence, the philosophy of language, natural language processing,
formal semantics, denotational semantics, has been undertaken after Korzybski's
formulation [more |
more] although questions
continue to be raised as to whether this is based on a misunderstanding
- Processing levels of scientology: These are the levels through
which a person is claimed to progress by "auditing",
from first beginning in Scientology
(L. Ron Hubbard. The Creation of Human Ability: A Handbook for Scientologists,
1954) to achieving the celebrated state of Clear,
as a basis for the Operating
Thetan levels beyond. This is defined as a state of complete spiritual
freedom is attainable, achieved not on a temporary basis but on a stable
plane of full awareness and ability, unqualified by accident or deterioration.
The succesion of levels is known as the "Yellow Brick Road to Total
- Expanded grades:
- ARC Straightwire: Restoring a person's direct and immediate understanding
- Grade 0 (Communication): Ability to communicate freely with anyone
on any subject
- Grade 1 (Problems): Ability to recognize the source of problems
and make them vanish
- Grade 2 (Overts and Withholds): Relief from the hostilities and
sufferings of life
- Grade 3 (Upsets): Freedom from the upsets of the past and ability
to face the future
- Grade 4 (Abilities): Moving out of fixed conditions and gaining
abilities to do new things
- Solo: Freedom from dramatization and return of powers to act on own
- Clear: A being
who no longer has a reactive mind
- Operating Thetan:
Levels I-VIII: Knowing and willing cause over life, thought, matter,
energy, space and time.
- Disciplines of action:
- Disciplines: Peter Senge (The
Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization,
1990) has articulated a set of disciplines for an organization that
are primarily complementary rather than successive in their acquisition:
- First discipline: Personal mastery is an individual's ability
to know what they want and to work toward their goals. To foster
this discipline, a learning organization would create an environment
that will allow members to shared vision, develop themselves toward
the goals they choose.
- Second discipline: Use of mental models as an organization's and
individual's internal picture of the world. In other words, this
picture of the world is a paradigm to the organization.
- Third discipline: Shared vision where there is a building sense
of commitment among the members of an organization to develop a
common image of the future.
- Fourth discipline: Team learning works toward developing the collective
thinking skills of members in an organization.
- Fifth discipline: Systems thinking as a way of thinking members
adopt about the forces and interrelationships that shape the overall
behaviors of a system.
- cognitive dissonance
- Operacy: This is an approach articulated by Edward de Bono (New
Thinking For The New Millennium, 1999) that focuses on the essentially
experiential skills of doing or making things happen, as well as devising
mental patterns more effective than the mind's routine habits -- in marked
contrast to descriptive thinking. Operacy is the management of thinking
about doing. These are the skills gained in the process of developing a
new idea (a strategy for action), developing a plan of how to implement
the idea and then implementing that as an action, are important life skills.
Operacy is the learning involved through the process of creative thinking,
developing action plans, implementing these plans and reviewing the effects
of their actions.
- Flow: A particular kind of rebirth is the understanding associated
with the dynamics of the "flow experience" as documented by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
(Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1991).
- Embodiment of mind: the embodiment of complex conceptual structures
(in the sense of Francisco
Varela et al. The Embodied Mind, 1991 and the understandings
and their generation (Francisco Varela. Laying Down a Path in Walking:
essays on enactive cognition, 1997). Also: En-minding
the Extended Body Enactive engagement in conceptual shapeshifting and deep
- Speaking with God: the interaction of an individual with God, during
a period of prayer or meditation, may .... God speaks to me (Catholic dscipline
wih respect to its assessment)
- hearing voices
- voice of one's conscience
- guardian angel, spirit
- Born-again: This is the conversion or resurrection experience,
in Christian terms -- understood as an event which the spirit rises from
the dead, where the conscious mind becomes aware of the superconscious mind.
- Possession: The, "born-again" experience, can be associated or
confused with a "walk-in" experience in which another entity takes over
the body and possibly the person's life, completely transforming the personality.
- Psychedelic experience: Users of psychedelic drugs claim that they
offer a direct experience of the divine, undistorted by church, belief or
revealed word [more |
more | more]
- Multiple personality (disorder): The transition of an individual
(or a group) from one personality mindset to another (in a set of such personalities)
may be perceived as the re-emergence or rebirth of the second [more]
- Embodiment in song: The embodiment of knowledge in the light of
the chanted hymns of the Rg Veda has been explored by Antonio de
Nicolas (Meditations through the Rg Veda, 1978), using the non-Boolean
logic of quantum mechanics (P A Heelan, P A Heelan. The logic of changing
classificatory frameworks, 1974). Language grounded in music is grounded
thereby on context dependency; any tone can have any possible relation to
other tones, and the shift from one tone to another, which alone makes melody
possible, is a shift in perspective which the singer himself embodies. Any
perspective (tone) must be "sacrificed" for a new one to come into being;
the song is a radical activity which requires innovation while maintaining
continuity, and the "world" is the creation of the singer, who shares its
dimensions with the song.
- States of consciousness (see John C. Lilly. The Center of the
- Perspective of yoga (I.K. Taimni. Science of Yoga)
- Vitarka: Neutral biocomputer state, the state for the absorbtion
and the transmission of new ideas
- Vicara: Level of professional Satori or of basic Satori.
- Sananda: Blissful state, making the Christ, the green qutub, realization
of baraka, the reception of divine grace, cosmic love, cosmic energy,
heightened bodily awareness,
- Sasmita - nir bija: Point source of consciousness, energy, light,
- Dharma-Megha Samadhi: Classical Satori. Fusion with universal
mind, union with God
- Gurdjieff vibration level
- Spiritual rebirth [more]
- spiritual death and rebirth
Perspectives for the understanding of forms of rebirth
From the above schema, links are provided to excerpts from web resources
presented as an annex (Web
Resources on Being "Born Again": Annex to Varieties of Rebirth,
2004). Some of the distinctions made above are quite artificial. They are
not necessarily mutually exclusive. There is a high degree of overlap or mutual
entrainment between some of those highlighted -- consistent with their interweaving
within a larger fabric. In considering understandings of rebirth from the
above distinctions, it is useful to draw attention to the following :
Perspectives for the understanding of forms of
(derived from Varieties
of Rebirth: distinguishing ways of being "born again",
Metaphors of qualitative emergence
||A "rebirth" may
not necessarily result in significant new insight; it may be more the
transition to a parallel or alternative perspective, or to even "more
of the same". Political "conversions" may well be of this
kind. As noted by Karin Jironet: "conservation of a dual conceptual
structure can prompt the re-birth of the once-born, the 'twice-once-born'".
alternatives are suggested by Howard Gardner's classic study Frames
of Mind : The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983).
|cyclic metaphor (repetition)
||A succession of "rebirths"
may repeat in a cycle, a concept explored in the Hindu and Buddhist understanding
of the "wheel
of suffering", "wheel of birth", or the "wheel
of life", to which individuals are "bound", being currently
unable to achieve the insight to release themselves from it
|depth metaphor (superficial
||Any term such as "born
again" does not adequately distinguish between superficial (even
very superficial) experience and that which is profoundly transformative
of understanding. The "rebirths" of some may therefore be considered
essentially trivial by others. In these terms, "birth" is potentially
the emergence of greater insight, possibly understood as integration of
the unconscious in an individuation process -- and notably the reframing
of the relationship between subject and object, knower and known. But
some "births" may be a "peak experience" of only momentary
significance, possibly only temporarily evoked by circumstances.
||Being "born again"
may be understood in terms of being in some way embodied by reality or
embodying reality to a progressively greater degree. For example Michael
Future of the Body: explorations into the further evolution of human nature,
1992) identified 12 attributes or developmental classes that give rise
to the extraordinary: perception, cognition, volition, the hedonic response
(namely relation to pain and pleasure), sense of self, movement abilities,
abilities to manipulate the environment, capacity for love, and the very
structure of the body itself [more];
pr the work of Francesco Varela, et al. (The Embodied Mind: cognitive
science and human expression, 1991). Christians use this metaphor
in terms of embodying Christ or being embodied by Christ. From a shamanic
perspective there may be a sense of possession by spirit.
|vertical metaphor (levels)
||Different degrees of understanding
may be understood as being achieved by a succession of "births"
through which more comprehensive perspectives are progressively achieved.
According to the understanding of various spiritual disciplines, access
to these may be described in terms of a metaphor of "ascent"
Alternative Conceptual Realities, 2002). Being "born again"
may then be understood as being "twice-born", "thrice-born",
or possibly more. Esotericists may distinguish a number of "initiations".
Freemasonry may distinguish up to 33 "degrees" of understanding,
into each of which a person may be successively "born". Many
computer-based (internet) games allow for a number of levels to which
access may be achieved. Some works of art, especially sacred literature,
may be explored at different levels of significance -- some skillfully
||The quality of experiential
"rebirth" may be dependent upon factors that lie beyond human
ken. This might be understood as the supernal dimension.
|sudden vs gradual
||It is often implied that "rebirth"
as a peak experience is "sudden" and spontaneous. However, in
Buddhism, for example, a distinctionis amde between "sudden"
and "gradual" processes of enlightenment, both of which are
recognized (Peter N. Gregory (Ed). Sudden and Gradual; approaches to
enlightenment in Chinese thought, 1991).
||This understanding of "rebirth"
is associated with the sense of being drawn into new experience as if
by a "strange attractor" (Human
Values as Strange Attractors, 1993; Varieties
of Encroachment, 2004). The attractor may be understood in terms
of the highest spiritual experience or those of the greatest perversion.
||Understandings of rebirth,
or being "born again" at one level may be primarily symbolic
of qualities of rebirth at another level, possibly only indicative of
||The symbolic relationships,
notably in ritual, may activate resonances important to understandings
of subtler forms of rebirth
||Different forms of rebirth
may be considered as "nested" within other more external, mundane
or less subtle forms through which they may be sensed by others. Experience
on more tangible and mundane levels may then embody one or more levels
of insight of a progressively subtler nature -- or it may only appear
to do so, or be claimed to do so. As with a set of nested Russian dolls,
from the outside it is challenging to verify how many layers within have
been transformed by the rebirth..
||The above listing suggests
a reality to a linear sequence of "births" when the relationship
between them may be neither circular nor nested; any mytho-poetic cultural
"births" may be very intimately related to the experiential
"births" of the individual
||Education (through a succession
of qualifications) can model the succession of "rebirths", and
the facility through which they may be achieved. Authenticity may be challenged
by "tests" and "interviews", and recognized by "certification"
and "qualifications" following specified periods of training
or experience. As with education, the qualifications may also be obtained
by deception, by payment, or be associated with false claims and counterfeit
certificates with the complicity of bodies of the highest repute [more
The nature of the rebirth may be a matter of assertion by those so "reborn"
and any lack of verification may be tolerated by their communities
Both the schema and the selection and presentation of resources are considered
tentative. They are presented in this way as a means of introducing an argument
Opportunities of the Twice Born: reflections on systemic camouflage of mass
deception, 2004) regarding the vulnerability of society to those of
"higher" orders of insight -- who may not necessarily act in the
interests of those of "lower" orders of insights, whether or not
they make the unverifiable claim to be doing so in the longer term.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD is the wisdom of man--
This is the end of Being, wisdom; this
Of wisdom, action; and of action, rest;
And of rest, bliss; that by experience sage
Of good and ill, the diametric powers
Which thwart the world, the thrice-born might discern
That death divine alone can perfect both,
The mediate and initiate; that between
The Deity and nothing, nothing is.
by Philip James Bailey (1816-1902)
In: Nicholson and Lee, eds. The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse.