Knowing and following your existential beliefs provides for the ground of understanding everything else in your life. For Christians, this understanding comes from the teaching found in the Bible. For example, John 3:1-3 recounts a conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and member of the Jewish ruling council. Jesus told him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Let’s look the concept of being “born again” to see what this might tell us about our neurobiology.
Nicodemus clearly took Jesus quite literally and was confused! He replied, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Let’s look carefully at how Jesus responded, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Born Again, Neurobiologically Speaking
When studying the neurobiology of our conscious and subconscious minds with an eye towards these scriptures, several possibilities come to mind. Conscious mind’s ability to process information is quite limited. Jesus may be leading us into the awareness of the powers of his subconscious mind. This part of your mind processes much more of the information around you than you ever could consciously.
Reaching into your subconscious resources in a balanced effective way requires self-identification with something larger than yourself, for example the Christian statement, “I am a child of God”. Trying to self-identify with something within this world tends not to work. For example, some use drugs and alcohol as their primary focus or “their God” thus living a life of addiction also called, “A separation from God” Choosing anything in the world eventually creates imbalances within and around you. Even choosing something more noble leads to problems for example, “Winning at any cost” or “Living for your children”.
A Christian’s existential belief is very personal. This may explain the role of the “interoceptive system” and its ties to your “sense of self”. Your belief system also defines how you see and treat others, thus giving purpose to mirror neuronal system. The more your existential connection as a “child of God,” the more you will be able to experience others in the same way. This may explain the function of your mirror neurons and their ability to read into the intent of others. This seemingly magical gift is called empathy.
Finally, Jesus talks about how being “born again” affects how you think and feel. He tells Nicodemus, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Here “coming into the light” may represent knowing and accepting consciously that you are a “child of God”. This practice aligns your conscious and subconscious mind creating a unity of purpose of everything within your subconscious mind’s awareness. When mentally aligned your past memories and future possibilities focus their efforts on the present moment. This is likely carried out by the recurrent loops of your striatal circuits. These circuits give final release to the next thought you think and the next word you speak.
Apply Your Faith Each Day
All of this can help you discover even more about the importance of your faith in your life. You are made for much greater things than your conscious mind could ever imagine. Apply your faith each day a little more to your relationship with God and with all others. Live each day a little more “In Him”. When problems come ask yourself, “What strength within me is calling out for a little more wisdom? Watch as your brain, your many gifts, your relationships and your life grows!
Learn more in our Growing in Oneness video series.