There is a considerable amount of talk about being “born again” in the modern-day Christian tradition. When we explore what is meant, it seems like it is a matter of accepting in one’s heart a certain belief set central to the denomination that espouses this idea. There does not seem to be any experiential activity required, other than an acceptance of faith in the belief system.

There is, however, a different understanding and interpretation of an individual undergoing a new birth, and that is based on the individual making a definitive shift to the divine standpoint from the egoistic human standpoint. Once that shift occurs, it dominates the way one sees, thinks and acts. It is not a matter of mental belief or vital adherence, but a matter of a true alteration in the very way one lives and breathes.

When various countries sent astronauts (or sometimes called ‘cosmonauts’) into outer space, the participants experienced a profound and life-altering change of standpoint, which may help us understand something of the type of change that a true shift of awareness and consciousness can bring about. Astronauts reported that just seeing the earth from outside, as a fragile ecosystem shared by all beings that inhabit the planet, made them profoundly awake to the oneness of all life on earth, the interdependence of every being and the environment, and the need to protect and preserve the earth and its beings rather than carry out wanton, unthinking destruction. Some of these individuals took up spiritual research and practices, explored the need for an evolution of consciousness and began teaching along these lines, all of which represented a major change in their thought process and career path marked by the experience of seeing the earth from outside. Even the photographic images taken from that perspective have had a profound effect on many individuals around the world since they were published. A standpoint shift, albeit one that still relies on the mental development, can be seen here. A new birth would involve a shift to a new form and power of consciousness, the next evolutionary stage beyond the mental stage. This comes about through the soul taking charge of the life and directing it to the development of a spiritual purpose and understanding of the life one leads.

Some people report a major change in their lives based on some extremely traumatic experience, such as a near death experience. They begin to try to grasp and embody spiritual principles and take up spiritual practices. Some people are simply ‘ready’, possibly based on past lifetime development, and open, in what seems to be an almost effortless eay, to the promptings and aspirations of the soul, and the call of the Spirit.

The Mother writes: “What is called ‘new birth’ is the birth into the spiritual life, the spiritual consciousness; it is to carry in oneself something of the spirit which, individually, through the soul, can begin to rule the life and be the master of existence….”

“In the individual existence, that is what makes all the difference; so long as one just speaks of the spirit and it is something one has read about, whose existence one vaguely knows about, but not a very concrete reality for the consciousness, this means that one is not born into the spirit. And when one is born into the spirit, it becomes something much more concrete, much more living, much more real, much more tangible than the whole material world. And this is what makes the essential difference between beings. When that becomes spontaneously real — the true, concrete existence, the atmosphere one can freely breathe — then one knows one has crossed over to the other side. But so long as it is something rather vague and hazy — you have heard about it, you know that it exists, but … it has no concrete reality — well, this means that the new birth has not yet taken place. As long as you tell yourself, ‘Yes, this I can see, this I can touch, the pain I suffer from, the hunger that torments me, the sleep that makes me feel heavy, this is real, this is concrete…’ (Mother laughs0, that means that you have not yet crossed over to the other side, you are not born into the spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter IX Reversal of Consciousness: The New Birth, pp. 171-172

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.