When we confront the issues of our bodily life, the prospect of rebirth provides us with a sense of continuity and at least some response to the finality of the death of the body. We gain a sense that we have been born before, and that after we die, something will continue and be born yet again.
The impact on our psyche of overcoming death in any manner should not be underestimated. This is the “great fear” that we carry with us all through our lives, and anything that promises us an extension or continuance in some form is generally welcomed.
Sri Aurobindo picks up on this theme: ” For the burden of death to man the thinking, willing, feeling creature is not the loss of this poor case or chariot of body, but it is the blind psychical finality death suggests, the stupid material end of our will and thought and aspiration and endeavour, the brute breaking off of the heart’s kind and sweet relations and affections, the futile convicting discontinuity of that marvellous and all-supporting soul-sense which gives us our radiant glimpses of the glory and delight of existence,–that is the discord and harsh inconsequence against which the thinking living creature revolts as incredible and inadmissible. The fiery straining to immortality of our life, mind, psyche, which can assent to cessation only by turning in enmity upon their own flame of nature, and the denial of it which the dull acquiescence of a body consenting inertly to death as to life brings in on us, is the whole painful irreconcilable contradiction of our double nature. Rebirth takes the difficulty and solves it in the sense of a soul continuity with a beat of physical repetition.”
There is, however, in this baseline analysis, not yet any sense of purpose of this mechanical repetition of birth, death, and rebirth; nor do we have any clear sense of “who” or “what” it is that experiences the rebirth. These questions continue to intrigue us.
“But simple persistence, mechanical continuity is not enough; that is not all our physical being signifies, not the whole luminous meaning of survival and continuity; without ascension, without expansion, without some growing up straight into light in the strength of our spirit our higher members toil here uncompleted, our birth in matter is not justified by any adequate meaning. We are very little better off than if death remained our ending; for our life in the end becomes then an indefinitely continued and renewed and temporarily consequent in place of an inconsequent, abruptly ended and soon convicted futility.”