World Foundations I
23 January 2018
Rebirth the Concept
of being Reborn
What does it mean to be reborn? Does the
concept of rebirth motivate people’s actions? Is the idea of being reborn
something that people know to be true? Does it change the way people look at
life? Rebirth is the process of being reborn or “reappearing” after death, also
known as resurrection. Resurrection is known as the process where our bodies
and our spirits have been separated due to death, and then are joined back
together. Rebirth or being “born again” can also be seen as a concept that
requires humans to “put off the natural man, in order to have a change of
heart” (Teachings and Doctrine). It is something that motivates people because
they believe it is the only way to be saved, or that it is a new way to create
themselves. Rebirth, is not just based on faith, there has to be experience
which causes faith to become absolute knowledge.
Rebirth is not
something that occurs immediately but rather gradually overtime. It comes in a
variety of forms such as temporal, spiritual or physical change. What a
person is struggling with determines the type of change they are going through.
In the Pear of Great Price it states that, “rebirth means to be quickened in
the inner man” (Moses 6.65). Within society there are innumerous examples of
rebirth. There is the shedding of skin on an animal, planting of a seed, or the
bulb of a flower. When a flower dies the bulb stays buried beneath the ground rising the next spring
to form a new flower which is viewed as the process of rebirth. A snake
shedding its skin helps people better relate to the concept of repentance and
being reborn where people change and are forgiven. The snake skin that is left
behind is in direct relation to the sins and mistakes that are left behind when
a person goes through changes. (Brother Barker room 2). Another example of
rebirth would be the “flash fires that are ignited by lightning” they seem to
have completely demolished the land due to the fire, but several days later
“tiny green shoots begin to poke above the surface of the soil” (Brehony). The
ground in a sense is born again. These are just a few of the different
instances where rebirth is experienced by people.
Within the LDS church, there are many
different examples of how rebirth is implemented into the members lives.
First, the LDS people believe that in order to be spiritually reborn
they have to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through
baptism, a person is fully immersed in water and then rises becoming renewed,
and completely forgiven of the sins they have committed. They also believe that
through the Atonement of Jesus Christ they can be forgiven of their sins
through the process of repentance. Repentance can take time just as the
shedding of snake skin does and is seen as another aspect of
spiritual rebirth. Lastly, members of the LDS church partake of the
sacrament each week in order to remember the Savior’s sacrifice.
Each Sunday the members experience the process of rebirth as they
partake of the sacrament renewing their covenants, and repenting of mistakes
they have made. Repentance, baptism, and the sacrament are all aspects of
the LDS church that take time and experience to know if they truly work. A
person cannot say that they know these aspects of being reborn such as the Atonement,
or baptism work unless they experience it themselves, otherwise they are basing
their knowledge on faith and belief in someone else’s experience.
Although rebirth is a common concept
that most people understand, it wasn’t always that way. Rebirth is a belief,
something people have faith in. After trial and error, people are then able to
experience rebirth and know with a surety that it is true. One example of that
would be using the Atonement and repenting. Every single person in this
universe makes mistakes and is called to repentance in order to receive
forgiveness for the mistakes that they have made. It isn’t until a person
experiences true sorrow, and pleads for forgiveness striving to change,
that they understand not only the process of repentance but also the concept of
rebirth. Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated, “Spiritual rebirth begins and ends
with belief in Christ. When repentant souls turn to Christ and seek new life
with him, the processes of rebirth commence.” This statement helps embellish
the idea that faith and experience come before knowledge. In the Buddhist
practice, the Buddha explained the concept of rebirth to his people and how he
knew it to be true based on his own experience. He then stated that he knew
that “until the people had gained experience for themselves through
practice—his listeners could take his statements on the efficacy of action and
the truth of rebirth only on faith” (Thanissaro Bhikku). The people were
relying on what he knew to be true. Bruce R. McConkie and the Buddha both state
that rebirth is first based on faith, then through experience it becomes
something known to be true.
Rebirth is first faith, and then
experience changes a leap of faith into absolute knowledge. How is it that
people can say they know that rebirth is true and that it works without having
had any experience? They have faith, but “faith without works is dead”
(James 2:26) Faith is an action word that requires acting, seeking, and
learning. Through experimenting people can know that the atonement works
and that they can be forgiven for the sins they have committed.
Through experience people know that if they plant a seed or a bulb again
that it will grow into a beautiful flower. In order to know with a surety
if rebirth is a real concept that applies to different aspects of our lives
there has to be experience involved to gain a true knowledge.
A. “Awakening at Midlife.” The Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996, NY.
McConkie, Bruce R.
Spiritual Rebirth Is Most Often a Gradual Process. Doctrinal New
Testament Commentary; 3:402.
and Doctrine of the book of Mormon Teacher Manual. Salt Lake City, Utah: The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2015, lesson 12.
Bhikkhu. “The Truth of Rebirth: And Why It Matters for Buddhist Practice.”
Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 Nov. 2013. www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/truth_of_rebirth.html
The Pearl of Great Price.
Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1979,