A Spiritual Interpretation Needed
The true spiritual seers of ancient times, like those of all ages, have had a clear vision of the need for human rebirth, or spiritual regeneration. For lack of better language, they have always described it in terms of ordinary birth.
Our Lord did this when He said, “Unless a person is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” But as the rest of what He said shows, he was speaking of spiritual rebirth, not physical rebirth. It is only a grossly literalistic outlook which leads readers of ancient Eastern Scriptures to find statements in favor of reincarnation in them. In the Bhagavad Gita there are frequent passages which describe spiritual rebirth in physical terms. So we read, “We have been born many times, I and thou, Arjuna” And again, “Those unhappy ones, who hate and are cruel, I cast from one reincarnation to another.”
Indeed, in a spiritual sense we are born many times in the course of our labors. Without our taking particular notice, we are reborn every time a new motivation takes over in our lives. We are a new person, a different person, under the rule of new and vital interests. A changed person is a different person, and when we see a definite mental or moral development in a friend we even speak of him as a new person. Yet he is the same individual the difference comes from his new motivation and changed outlook.
Most mature people can look back over the years and notice the changes which have been critical in causing a remade personality to emerge in themselves. A person is spiritually reborn when, from being completely apathetic, he becomes motivated by the love of truth. He is again reborn, becoming new, when he lives according to the vision of that faith. And he is a new person once more when love for the Lord and kind goodwill toward other people rule his outlook and his life. The rebirths referred to in the Bhagavad Gita are spiritual, not physical. The language used is figurative and should be interpreted in spiritual terms, not literally. Rebirth, in these Scriptures, is a figure of speech. Anyone who has a spiritual understanding sees in it a picture of the states of mind and heart which we must pass through to reach true spirituality.