Rebirth: the action of reappearing or starting to flourish or increase after a decline; revival.
Rebirth in Buddhism refers to the teaching that the actions of a person lead to a new existence after death, in an endless cycle called saṃsāra. This cycle is considered to be dukkha, unsatisfactory and painful. The cycle stops only if liberation is achieved by insight and the extinguishing of craving. Rebirth is one of the foundational doctrines of Buddhism, along with karma, nirvana and moksha.
The rebirth doctrine, sometimes referred to as reincarnation or transmigration, asserts that rebirth does not necessarily take place as another human being, but can also lead to an existence in one of the six realms of existence, which also include heaven realms, the animal realm, the ghost realm and hell realms.
Rebirth, as stated by various Buddhist traditions, is determined by karma, with good realms favored by kushala (good or skillful karma), while a rebirth in evil realms is a consequence of akushala (bad karma). While nirvana is the ultimate goal of Buddhist teaching, much of traditional Buddhist practice has been centered on gaining merit and merit transfer, whereby one gains rebirth in the good realms and avoids rebirth in the evil realms.
Carl Jung is famous for among other things, his Theory of The Psyche. In this theory, individuation is a psychological concept that can be defined as the achievement of self-actualization through integrating the conscious and the unconscious parts of our mind. Its aim is to become aware of who we truly are without any filters or barriers, and reach our full potential by acknowledging all parts of our mind. or as Jung prefers to call it ‘’ psyche”.
According to Jung, most people do not understand the role that the unconscious part of their minds plays in their lives and how it controls and manipulates their actions. So, it is their duty to discover it through bringing it to the conscious realm and becoming aware of it. As he said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
The psyche, based on this theory, has two parts. The conscious, which is the part that we are aware of. And the unconscious is the part that controls our life and behavior behind the scenes because of our unawareness. So, the process of individuation consists of bringing parts from the darkness of our unconscious into our conscious side in order to prevent it from controlling us. We recently talked about the shadow and its integration. This is what we mean when we talk about individuation and Jung believed that when we reach this integration, we experience a rebirth.
Consciousness is the part of our minds that we know through our thoughts, emotion, etc, and the center of this side is ego. What is ego? It is a projection or a reflection of the “unconscious” and a result of social conditioning. Our ego is like a cloud that appears to have a form, but it changes constantly. It is the mask that we wear to hide our true “self” from ourselves. It is not solid but a misinterpretation of who we are and who we should be based on some idealized traits and false notions that differ from one person to another according to the context and the environment. Unfortunately, we over-identify ourselves with our Ego to believe that it is us.
Ego is shaped through our growth. When we were brought to the world, we had no sense of self, and no association with different names and opinions (which gradually develop to form our ego). As we grow older, our brains become more conditioned according to our environment. So, the first part of the individuation process is to learn how to separate our ego from ourselves and understand that it is not our identity, but just its external layer.
Some people misunderstand this concept of individuation as getting rid of our Ego, but that is impossible. Our ego is essential for us to survive in society, it is what gives us the subjective experience of life. The aim of individuation is not to get rid of it but rather identify it, understand it and control it. In order to do that, according to Jung, we have to go through “ego transformation”, which means reconstructing our ego (thoughts and beliefs) all over again in a healthy way without identifying it as who we are.
People tend to resist this transformation because it represents a threat to their identity and the foundation of the character that they adapted for too long. This ego transformation does not happen deliberately. It happens when you realize that your beliefs contradict with reality through a hard experience, which may lead to an identity crisis, or even as what some people call an existential crisis. which ends up with the rebirth of a new healthy ego.
The persona is a reflection of our ego. It is the mask we wear to hide our real selves from the others. The more comfortable we are around some people, the less it conceals parts from our real character. If you have ever wondered why we subconsciously act differently around people, it is because our ego dictates how we should act according to the context. Some people may face trouble trying to understand themselves through judging this persona which may lead to confusion, but they are merely a reflection of the ego.
The unconscious realm is the hidden side of yourself, it is the main and the leading part of our psyche. It is made of many archetypes and each one of them has a role and an effect. The unconscious projects itself into our lives without our awareness, it controls our behavior while we think that we are fully aware and responsible for our actions.
The unconscious produces our thoughts that we display through our ego, but we identify ourselves as the thoughts while ignoring its real source. For example, some people go through traumatic experiences in their childhood, take as an example physical abuse, it makes them feel unworthy of love as children. This part of their lives is hidden in the unconscious part, but this traumatic experience comes from the unconscious and projects itself on the ego as thoughts like, I am worthless, I hate myself, no one will love me… Unfortunately, the individual starts believing what his ego repeats regardless of its validity.
A huge part of our personalities is built throughout our childhood.
According to Jung, it is wrong to identify ourselves as good or bad because we are inherently flawed. As we have discussed before, the unconscious part is made of archetypes including the shadow.
The shadow is the dark side of your personality, and by dark, we do not necessarily mean negative, but it is hidden and repressed somewhere in our unconscious. It consists of both negative or positive qualities that your ego considers as unacceptable, so you have subconsciously disowned them through time. Because ego does not know what is right and what is wrong.
It is a survival tool that aims to keep you away from any potential danger even if the threat is not real. We hide sides of ourselves because we fear judgments and need to fit in, which creates a false sense of self that is made of these beliefs, thoughts, and conditioning.
After becoming aware of our ego, we start to understand how our thoughts are a product of the unconscious. Then we move to the next step which is the Shadow Work.
As we have explored, shadow work is the process of exploring your inner darkness, it uncovers every part of you that has been disowned, repressed and rejected and not displayed in public. Shadow work is one of the most important parts of in-depth psychological work. Jung used this method in his analysis because Jungian Analysis encourages us to seek out our shadow. It is liberating and would enable the individual to discover who she or he really is and reach their full potential using the traits that were oppressed before.
We should proceed by accepting the fact that we have flaws and hidden parts that need to be worked on without feeling ashamed because the refusal to accept our dark side is a refusal to accept our entire being.
But how can we reach individuation and re-make our character? Can we become another as if born anew? Most models of human development place tight bounds around our capacity for self-directed change. Although I work with clients in the realm of the subconscious and often achieve rapid change, we are a conservative creature. We crave order and a have a deep need for a stable sense of self.
Change, according to these models, is best accomplished in a gradual manner. We need to focus on taking small steps each day in the direction of the person we wish to become. We need to break down our bad habits, cultivate good ones and over time these small changes will cumulate to produce impressive results.
This approach to self-change is not the only way that we change, nor is it adequate for all situations. For while we are conservative creatures, we are also mortal creatures with limited time and a limited capacity to endure suffering.
Sometimes life requires radical change, not merely a change in a habit or two, but a change of such significance that it leads to what is known as a psychological rebirth. Fortunately, this type of change is possible and occurs in more lives than is often realized.
Doing the work of integration, taming the ego and the shadow can lead you to a realization that your beliefs contradict reality. You can avoid this realization being the result of a hard experience, which can lead to an identity crisis, or even as what some people call an existential crisis. Instead, doing the ego and shadow work before a hard lesson can end up as a rebirth of a new healthy ego. A psychological rebirth of integration and individuation.