What is the meaning of transcending birth and death?
Transcending birth and death is to attain the extinction of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, and return to God’s Kingdom. Transcending birth and death has two implications – that mankind must realize where the True Self comes from and that the True Self must return to where it comes from. In the domain of the spiritual expanse, all phenomena and matters, emotions, and desires on Earth are merely facades and mirages. Unfortunately, mankind pursues after materials and desires idolatrously, resulting in the perpetuation of birth, death, and rebirth. Only by transcending the cycle of birth, death and rebirth can one surpass the affinity to illusory facades and images; this is the meaning and the ultimate goal of practicing Tao.
If one realizes where he comes from and where to return to, he reaches the state of transcending the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John,3:3) To be born again is to be enlightened to Tao. Tao is not a substance but a level of spiritual consciousness. To be enlightened to Tao is to achieve communion with one’s own True Self. God’s Kingdom is the home of the True Selves of mankind. The first emperor of the Qing Dynasty Sun-zhi wrote a poem when he decided to become a Buddhist monk: “I come to this world in ignorance, and I leave this world again in ignorance. I come and leave without attaining Tao. I wish I do not come and do not leave; so to be without worries and grieves.” That summarizes achieve the state of transcending birth and death.
Why can’t mankind transcend birth and death? The reason is that by the influences of the senses, the human consciousness is fully filled with desires and emotions. This diminishes the aureole, and disperses and contaminates the Ling-qi. In addition, the force of karma interferes and blocks the path of returning to God’s Kingdom. For these reasons, the helpless souls do not have any way to interfere with the process of birth, death and rebirth. Zhuang-zi said: “I do not wish to come, yet suddenly I was delivered into this world. I do not wish to die, yet suddenly I have to leave this world.” This is the kind of helplessness when one loses his Origin, and thus becomes a traveler of the journey of life.
Once mankind loses Tao, the only salvation is to receive Tao of Heaven. By the power of God ordained, the Enlightened Teacher with the Heavenly Decree points out the True Path – Tao of Heaven, and transmits spiritual energy to the baptized. When this spiritual energy is transmitted, the diminished aureole receives the critical elements to be born again and could be restored to full radiance. If all live in the benevolent and just way and excel in ethics and morality until all reach the utmost perfection, everyone in this world will return to God’s Kingdom.
Since the ancient time, Tao of Heaven has rarely been revealed to human. Transcending the cycle of birth and death was very difficult to achieve. In those times, one must have practiced Tao for many lives and have traveled widely to seek the Enlightened Teacher in order to receive Tao of Heaven. Today, mankind is approaching the Final Judgment. The good and the evil must be separated from each other. The catastrophe that will end the world is coming. To save the good, God makes Tao of Heaven available to everyone. It is only in this short time that everyone has the chance of receiving Tao of Heaven without excelling in the five virtues of Tao. That is truly what the saying: “Now I easily get what I have sought unsuccessfully with lots of effort and time.”