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Perhaps the most prevalent—if not the most important—is the mystic’s experience of dying and being reborn. The journey through death followed by resurrection or rebirth was a central aspect of the mysteries at Eleusis, the philosophy of Plato, the initiation rites of the Pythagoreans, and initiation into the Church (symbolized in the rite of baptism and the spiritual transformation of shifting from false to true self discussed by Keating). Whether we express this process in the psychological language of a William James or in the emotive tones of a “born-again” Christian, the “death/rebirth” transformation seems to lie at the heart of religious life, and it is certainly at the core of the mystic’s experience. Write an essay that focuses on the death/rebirth imagery in a context of your choice. You may write about how a death experience transformed the life of a great saint or of a fictional character like Siddhartha. You may also find this process at work in a less traditionally religious context. Do you know of anyone who has gone through such an experience? Can you show a similarity of pattern between your example and the death/rebirth patterns we have observed in our readings and/or discussions?
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