Description: The need to be born again - we are not real people
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
How Can a Person be Born Again #2
by Ernest O’Neill
Have you ever stood on an escalator going down the underground and looked at the person in front of you and
wondered, “What are they thinking?”, or sat in a bus and looked across at someone else and thought, “I wonder
are they feeling the same way as I am? I wonder, do they think they’re as different from everybody else as I
think I am?” And often as we see crowds of other people, we reflect on whether they think the way we think, or
whether they feel as different from everybody else as we do.
And often we pass on in our thinking very quickly, because we have to get off the escalator, we have to get
off the bus, and we don’t dwell upon it any longer. But yet there are those moments, aren’t there, when you
look at some of the other four billion people in the world and you wonder if they think they’re as different
from everybody else as you think you are. And yet as you look at them, too, there comes another thought into
your mind that you’re very like them and they’re very like you.
And then often there is rather a depressing thought that occurs to you that you’re becoming more and more like
them and they’re becoming more like you every day. And indeed, there isn’t perhaps very much difference
between you. And that, of course, is a miserable thought that there isn’t very much difference between you and
the other four billion people. Because of course you do feel different. And yet, it is true that as the years
go by you do more and more what all the rest of the people do. And often you seem to think the way they do
also and respond the way they do.
Because we are all being stimulated by the same external events and the same circumstances. And more and more
we’re all responding in the same way. And of course, you’ve only to watch the TV commercials to realize that
the media and the mass merchandisers treat us as if we are all the same. And often we don’t mind that, except
that we have the growing suspicion that we are very much the same. And yet there is something inside us, isn’t
there, that keeps on saying, “Yes, but you’re different. You’re different. You may wear the same hat as a
thousand other people. You may drive the same car as a million other people, but you are different. You do do
And yet part of the problem is nobody else seems to really realize how absolutely unique you are. And of
course, you have to try to get them to realize that. And that’s where we all seem to stick our elbows out and
show our idiosyncrasies as bluntly and as awkwardly as we can to make sure that we aren’t missed. And though
we look with amusement at the little child that shows off when visitors come, we often feel that we ourselves
“show off” when the visitors come because we don’t want to be missed in the crowd.
And yet as we approach the time when we will be lowered into a hole in the ground, or maybe we will be burned
in cremation, we sense that we seem to end up very much the same as everybody else. And we walk among the
gravestones at times, and think that, “Well, we may as well all be buried the way the soldiers are, under a
plain cross, because we are all the same. And yet there’s something in us that still rebels against that and
says, “Yes, but we are different. We are different.” And the truth is you are different.
You are unique. You’re absolutely different from everybody else in the world today. And you’re different from
anybody that has ever lived, and you’re different from anybody who ever will live. And you may say, “Well,
why? Why do you say that so confidently?” Well, for one thing you feel it, don’t you? Even if you are an
identical twin, you’re still vitally different from that identical twin. There’s some way in which the
combination of personal psychological traits and emotional tendencies in you is different from him.
But the other reason we say that is because in our discussion of these matters over the past year, we’ve come
to the conclusion that there is an intelligent personal mind behind the universe. That whether we were created
through a process of evolution or not, there has to have been, as Einstein said, an intelligent mind that was
responsible for programming into whatever process caused our existence, there has to have been an intelligent
mind that programmed into that process a direction and purpose that would lead to a development of the complex
from the simple, or would lead to a development of order as opposed to chaos.
And He had, in fact, power to leave this world and to go where His Father, the Creator, was and to come back
and tell us what His Father had intended in our creation. And actually He said that the Creator of the world
made you unique. There’s only one of you. And He made you for a certain purpose. That was to become His
friend, to be His child, His son or His daughter and to come to love Him. Because He in fact loved you, and
that’s why He made you.
He made you so that He could have a relationship with you, and so that together you could develop the universe
that is so infinite, after this world is over. And that’s why you were made. And that’s why you still keep
thinking you are unique, because, in fact you are unique.
But, of course, the tragedy is, that most of us have not believed that at all. We have disappointed our Maker.
We have rejected any belief in Him as sane or sensible, and we have lived as practical atheists. And have
become, in turn, dependent people — dependent on all the other people in the world to give us a sense of self
worth, dependent on all the other things in the world to give us a sense of security, dependent on the happy
circumstances in the world to give us a sense of happiness.
Instead of really taking the Creator for real and treating Him as our Father we have ignored Him, and we have
had to try to substitute for Him the attention of other people. And of course, they never give us enough
attention, and they never give us enough acknowledgment or recognition. And so we have become little robot
slaves to them to try to get that attention. And that’s why we sense there’s something in us that is beginning
to die. That sense of uniqueness in us is beginning to die day after day, because we are subjecting ourselves
to all kinds of habits and practices that will please other people or that will get us more security. And in
the doing of it we are losing our own spirits.
That’s the unique part of you, your spirit. That’s the part that really makes you, you. And that part of you
is dying day after day after day. And of course, our Creator, His own attitude is one of grave disappointment
as He sees us become more and more like little machines, like little computers, instead of the original
individualistic human beings that He had made us. What we have been saying is that He, therefore, is the only
one that is really vitally interested in us finding ourselves again.
He’s the only one that is interested in our spirits coming alive. He’s the only one interested in us starting
life again, and beginning again, and being born all over again and coming alive again. And He is able to make
us alive. He is able to bring that spirit of yours into life again. But it does mean that you have to believe
Him. You have to start believing that He is really real, and that these things are true. And then you have to
start living the way you would if He were your Maker and if He were your Father.
In other words you have to change your mind, or, it’s put this way by Jesus of Nazareth, “You have to repent.”
You have to express some sorrow to your Maker for the way you have become a little robot, depending on
everybody but Him. And you have to change your way of going. Instead of depending on all of us to give you a
sense of self-esteem and self worth, instead of depending on your boss or your father, on your mother, your
husband, your teacher, your professors — to begin to depend on Him. And to begin to treat Him as somebody who
will begin to be real in you in your thoughts, and will begin to come through you in your thoughts. And He
He will begin to feed the thoughts into you and feed His sense of what you should do in your life into your
spirit. And you’ll begin to sense direction in your life. But you need to do those two things: believe that
He is really there, and then begin to live in dependence on Him instead of in dependence on all the rest of
us. And in that way you’ll begin to come alive again inside.