World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


Born Anew

To leave the condition of worldly existence and enter the realm of God's grace is often understood as a second, spiritual birth. Jesus said, "You must be born anew." The Christian who is born again in Christ becomes a child of God, experiences an intimacy with God, and has the spirit of Christ dwelling in him. The old self dies away, with its worldly desires and false views. To be born again, the Christian must undergo the rite of baptism by which he becomes open to receive Christ and the Holy Spirit. Among the passages from the Christian scriptures, we offer the account of the first Pentecost. The gifts of the Spirit, especially the gift of speaking in tongues, are essential signs confirming the veracity of a person's rebirth in Pentecostal Christian churches.

In Hinduism and Buddhism, the twice-born are those who have received religious instruction and have realized its truths. Their life is now grounded in Dharma and they have rejected a life of sense gratification. The Hindu's second birth is the student's initiation into the mysteries of Vedic knowledge; it must be mediated by an able teacher. In Buddhism rebirth means to become a 'son of the Buddha' after education and training, through which the old ways of looking at life are replaced by the new eyes of the Dharma. Buddha's sons and daughters make vows to follow the path that will lead them to eventual Arahantship or Buddhahood. Initiations in the primal religions may similarly bring about a new birth.1 The mystic transformation of rebirth is integral to salvation as offered through several new religions, most notably the Change of Blood Lineage in the Unification Church.

1 See Sioux Vision Quest, pp. 847ff.

Today I indeed know that I am really a son of Buddha, born from the mouth of Buddha, evolved from the Law, and have obtained a place in the Buddha-law.

Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 3

To all who received him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.

Christianity. Bible, John 1.12-13

Monks, I am a brahmin, one to ask a favor of, ever clean-handed, wearing my last body, incomparable physician and surgeon. You are my own true sons, born of my mouth, born into the doctrine, created in the doctrine, heirs to the doctrine, not carnal heirs.

Buddhism. Itivuttaka 101

Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I say to you, 'You must be born anew.'"

Christianity. Bible, John 3.3-7

Repentance makes man a new creature; hitherto dead through sin, he is fashioned afresh.

Judaism. Midrash, Psalms 18

He from whom the pupil gathers the knowledge of his religious duties is called the teacher. Him he should never offend. For he causes the pupil to be born a second time by imparting to him sacred learning. The second birth is the best; the father and the mother produce the body only.

Hinduism. Apastamba Dharma Sutra 1.1

Lotus Sutra 3: The Mahayana goal was that each person himself become a Buddha. Cf. Parable of the Prodigal Son, Lotus Sutra 4, pp. 510ff. John 1.12-13: Cf. Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3.19, p. 912. Itivuttaka 101: In traditional Hinduism, the term 'twice-born' applied only to those who undertook instruction from a brahmin. Sakyamuni Buddha was not a brahmin in the conventional meaning; his caste was kshatriya. But as the Enlightened One, he declares himself to be a brahmin in the true sense of one who has attained Brahman. Thus he is qualified to initiate his followers into the Buddha doctrine and give them a second birth. The words 'born of my mouth' is an allusion to the Vedic myth of the creation of the castes--see Rig Veda 10.90.11-12, p. 275, in which the brahmins were born out of the mouth of the Supreme Being. Buddha is abolishing the caste system by declaring that all his followers are, as it were, brahmins, born out of the mouth of the Buddha by virtue of receiving his instruction. Compare Vacana 589, p. 280. John 3.3-7: To be 'born of water and the Spirit' refers to baptism with water, through which one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit: cf. Acts 2.38, p. 854; Romans 6.3-11, p. 754.

In the eighth year after conception, one should perform the initiation (upanayana) of a brahmin, in the eleventh year after conception of a kshatriya, and in the twelfth that of a vaishya.

Thus has been described the rule for the initiation of the twice-born, which indicates a new birth, and sanctified.

Of him who gives natural birth and him who gives the knowledge of the Veda, the giver of the Veda is the more venerable father; for the birth for the sake of the Veda ensures eternal rewards both in this life and after death.

Hinduism. Laws of Manu 2.36, 68, 146

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.

So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of son- ship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Christianity. Bible, Romans 8.9-17

These same people, though wrapped in all these veils of limitation, and despite the restraint of such observances, as soon as they drank the immortal draught of faith, from the cup of certitude, at the hand of the Manifestation of the All-glorious, were so transformed that they would renounce for his sake their kindred, their substance, their lives, their beliefs, yea, all else save God! So overpowering was their yearning for God, so uplifting their transports of ecstatic delight, that the world and all that is therein faded before their eyes into nothingness. Have not this people exemplified the mysteries of "rebirth"... ?

... Nothing short of this mystic transformation could cause such spirit and behavior, so utterly unlike their previous habits and manners, to be manifest in the world of being. For their agitation was turned into peace, their doubt into certitude, their timidity into courage. Such is the potency of the Divine Elixir, which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmutes the souls of men!

Baha'i Faith. Book of Certitude, 155, 157

Apastamba Dharma Sutra 1.1: Cf. Atharva Veda 6.121.4, p. 531. Romans 8.9-17: Cf. Mark 8.34-36, p. 897; Galatians 2.20, p. 898.

Do you have true love? True Parents have absolute and eternal love. But we inherited the wrong root of love through the fall. Here in the Western world, many deny that the fall occurred: "Who has fallen? What has anyone in my lineage done wrong?" But love, in the beginning of mankind, started in the wrong direction. Without recognizing this, then salvation and a religious life become meaningless. What is the final purpose of salvation? Mankind, represented by a tree, has multiplied fallen nature throughout the world. Restoration of love, life, and blood lineage must occur.... For the original "me" to emerge, I must originate in God's love, God's life, and God's lineage. It did not happen [at the time of Adam and Eve], therefore we are still trying to connect to these three things....

In restoring all of these three elements it is necessary to have the parent/child relationship. Fallen man exists only as a shell. Inside he is nothing; it's just like a scarecrow with a form but nothing else. He must receive love and become one with the parents. Before finding new life, there has to be love. In our case, we have life, but since there was no true love, our originating point was not God....

Most Christianity emphasizes Jesus' blood. Why is the blood so meaningful? Jesus' blood means the parents' blood before the fall: true blood.

Can [True] Father alone, by himself, bequeath these three things? Not without [True] Mother! That is why the goal in the Old Testament was to have the Marriage of the Lamb.

Where do fallen people belong? They are born and become mature physically, but in essence they have not been truly born. It is written in the Bible, "Unless you are born again, you cannot be saved," which means exactly that. They have to go back into the mother's womb and even before that--back into the father's bone marrow. That means his blood lineage is mine, his love is mine, his life is my life.... Basically all that we have to know is that True Parents embody the new love, life, and blood lineage. Unless you connect with all three, you cannot connect with God.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 8-20-89

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Lybia belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel,

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

Christianity. Bible, Acts 2.1-18

Sun Myung Moon, 8-20-89: Rebirth means to leave the lineage of Adam and Eve--fallen humanity stained by the original sin (cf. Divine Principle I.2.2.2, p. 429)--and be engrafted onto the lineage of the True Parents, who embody God's true love--as God purposed for Adam and Eve had they not fallen (cf. Divine Principle I., p. 253). This Change of Blood Lineage occurs spiritually at the holy wedding; it is substantiated through a God-centered way of life which embodies the True Parents' standard of godly love. Book of Certitude, 155, 157: See Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 7, p. 897. Acts 2.1-18: This is the Bible's account of the first Christian Pentecost. In Judaism, the Pentecost is the day commemorating the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. The gift of tongues to the disciples, on the very day commemorating the giving of the Law ages before, marks the beginning of a new dispensation of God's grace, a 'dispensation of the Spirit'--see 2 Corinthians 3.7-16, p. 634. By quoting the prophet Joel, Peter declared that these phenomena of tongues and prophesy are signs of the Last Days and testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus Christ, who had been crucified. Jews and Christians alike, who even today look to a future new age, often describe it as an age of the Spirit, when the Spirit of God will become manifest in the hearts of all people; see Jeremiah 31.31-34, p. 1115 and Tanhuma, p. 1115. Note also that testimony to the Lord in every tongue is a characteristic of the Last Days according to the Jewish prayer Alenu, p. 1112, and in the Jesus' Great Commission to preach the gospel to all nations--see Matthew 28.18-20, p. 1027. Hence the Christian Pentecost is regarded both as the beginning of a new dispensation of the spirit and as the momentary sign of an even greater outpouring of the Spirit which is yet to come. The gift of tongues is a living reality for Pentecostal Christians, manifesting the power of the Spirit to transform their lives and make them new creatures in Christ. Cf. John 3.8, p. 531; Ephesians 5.18, p. 498.


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