Although I don’t consider myself a member of any religion, I traveled from California to Ohio this weekend to celebrate Easter with my family. It has me thinking about the idea of rebirth, and what that means in terms of personal growth.
I have been giving a lot of consideration lately to the idea that happiness is a choice. The anxieties and negative thought patterns that have held me back in the past are, on one level, a choice. This is something I have intellectually understood for some time but am only recently beginning to internalize on a deeper, emotional level. I have not chosen, in the past, to move away from my anxieties because they were familiar. Though I knew I would be more satisfied with my life and more confident if I could let go of the insecurities that were no longer serving me, I clung to my anxieties because I didn’t know who I would be without them. In recent months, however, I have begun to truly feel the extent to which I have control over my emotional life.
If this new level of internalization leads me to finally make the changes I’ve been dreaming of for so long, it will, in a sense, be a form of rebirth. I will still be the same person, but a new incarnation of myself. I will be a version of myself without the self-judgment and fear of uncertainty. In personal growth, every time we come closer to understanding our true nature, every bit of self-acceptance we gain, constitutes a small-scale rebirth.
In Buddhism, there is the concept that we are always changing and evolving. There is no single, solid core of being, like a soul in the familiar sense. The parts of us that make up our being are referred to as skandhas and they include matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. These are not static, rather, they are ever evolving.
In non-Buddhist terms, I subscribe to the idea that we are composed essentially of our bodies, minds, actions, emotions, and states of consciousness, all of which are always changing. Therefore, as we change and grow, we are constantly being reborn.