By Gary Z McGee
“As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.” ~Wendell Berry
What does it mean to practice resurrection? It means embracing the life-death-rebirth cycle of becoming whole. Each moment is a rebirth of the dying last moment. Life is lived in between. Or, more accurately, life is lived in abstraction.
Practicing resurrection is honoring change, fate, chance, impermanence, and the transitory, and then riding it out like a surfer on a wave. What’s resurrected is a novel perspective. What’s resurrected is a sense of self that is less rigid and singular and more open and plural.
Practicing resurrection is practicing transformation. Or, at least, it’s owning the transformation that’s naturally occurring. Helping it along rather than fighting it. Flowing with it rather than denying it. Integrating it rather than repressing it.
When each moment is embraced as a life-death-rebirth, as a sacred transformation, our character comes alive. Our time becomes more precious. A world of possibilities opens before us. Life becomes a playground, and we’re suddenly on recess. We free ourselves to live our best life.
As Osho stated, “The man of understanding dies every moment to the past and is reborn again to the future. His present is always a transformation, a rebirth, a resurrection.”
Create and don your masks with aplomb:
“Everything is a mask that is not death.” ~Emil Cioran
Entropy is boss. Decay is absolute. Death is inevitable. There’s no escape. But that’s okay. We need a tragic backdrop to contrast our comedic melodrama anyway. There are masks to wear in honor of death. We don the mask of life and rebirth as a reciprocity.
The key is to own our masks lest they own us. If it’s true that the Self is masks all the way down perceiving delusions all the way up, then it behooves us to make sense of our masks lest we become deceived by our delusions.
The art of rebirth helps with this. When we rebirth ourselves, we allow ourselves to reset, to change, to retune ourselves to higher frequencies. We free ourselves to become. This becoming cannot be self-actualized behind a single mask. Clinging to a single mask is a recipe for codependence, ignorance, and rigidness. Harnessing the power of all our masks (or, at least, making as many masks conscious as possible) is a recipe for independence, interdependence, and transcendence.
We use our masks to detach. We detach to stay ahead of the curve. We stay ahead of the curve so that we are not crushed beneath its crushing rip curl.
The ideal mask is the one we’ve created ourselves. But barring that, there’s an array of masks that can be slipped on. Imagination is the heart of the art of rebirth. Through our imagination we can become anything. Transformation is second nature. Rebirth is the only way to win against entropy, decay, and death. Because rebirth is the only thing death can become.
Destroy your illusions and murder your delusions:
“I understood myself only after I destroyed myself. And only in the process of fixing myself, did I know who I really was.” ~Sade Andria Zabala
The only thing more important than honoring our masks is destroying them. A mask is a psychosocial symbol for whatever delusion we are currently invested in. They represent ideas, ideals, and ideologies. Lest we become mere puppets to our ideas, ideals, and ideologies, we must have the wherewithal to destroy the illusion they create. We destroy the illusion lest we fall into the trap of delusion.
This is a matter of perspective. We can still don our masks, play our roles, and go through the motions of playing our little finite games, and still have a healthy sense of detachment from it all. It’s okay that it’s all meaningless in the grand scheme of things because we understand that our masks are just ways of having fun with the meaninglessness. In fact, they are ways to create meaning, despite.
Our detachment is our saving grace. It keeps things in perspective. Our masks never have a chance to run away on us, or drag us into closemindedness, dogmatism, or one-dimensionality. Even the meaning they create within the cosmic void of meaninglessness is taken with a grain of salt.
The sooner we destroy the illusion, the sooner we can claim self-authenticity and deny delusion. This might mean the need to metaphorically destroy ourselves. This is known as ego death. The ego is simply another mask. We kill our ego’s attachment (belief/certainty/delusion) so that our detached soul can be born (mindfulness/curiosity/clarity).
The art of healthy ego-annihilation is threefold: question yourself, destroy yourself, rebirth yourself. This is the heart of healthy rebirth.
At the end of the day, it’s all a song and dance, and we’re both the singer and the dancer. It’s all a cartoon in the brain, and we’re both the artist and the thinker. It’s time to out-sing ourselves. It’s time to out-dance ourselves. It’s time to transcend the cartoon in the brain and discover the power of rebirth.
Play the game of life like an Infinite Player:
“A person only plays when they are a person in the full sense of the word, and they are fully a person only when they play.” ~Friedrich Schiller
The beauty of rebirth is the sense of humor that’s forged along the way. When we see each moment as a precious thing dying into the next, we have a tough decision to make. Do we balk and despair, attached to the outcome? Or do we laugh and let go, allowing the journey to be the thing? Do we cling to our caterpillar roots, or do we fly into the butterfly sky?
James P. Carse’s idea of Finite and Infinite Games can help with this. Basically, in his book by the same name, he breaks down reality into two types of games: Finite and Infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, even at the expense of play itself. An infinite game is played for the purpose of continuing play, for the sake of play itself. While there are endless finite games (chess, football, war, marriage, politics, religion, all the masks we wear) there is only one infinite game: the game of life.
The art of rebirth is the art of adapting to change. Likewise, the Infinite Game is played by adapting to change. The life-death-rebirth of each moment compels us to carpe puctum (seize the moment), which then compels us to carpe diem (seize the day), which further compels us to carpe vita (seize the life). All the finite games in between are mere playthings, symbolic pieces moved about the board of life.
Seizing our life is playing the Infinite Game. It’s the only game that matters next to death. The Infinite Game honors change as the only absolute. Everything changes, always and at all levels. There’s no escaping change, just as there is no escaping death. But when we have the capacity to rise above our petty finite games (our illusions, our delusions, and our masks), and see how it’s all connected, then we can truly begin to live. We can truly begin to play. A profound sense of lightheartedness overcomes us. Pettiness melts away. Heaviness loses its baggage. We are finally free to honor our roots by reaching toward the stars. By embracing change, we ‘seize the life’.
As James P. Carse said, “Only that which can change can continue. This is the principle by which infinite players live.”
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (The Art of Rebirth) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.