Should We Celebrate Birthdays

Today. I’m going to chat about a very important aspect of our lives, which are birthdays. I know most of the people get excited about birthdays and going to big celebrations, a lot of expectations in terms of what you receive on your birthday, in terms of wishes and how many people are wishing you, especially on social media. Now there is a lot of expectation about how many people are posting about you, wishing you all kinds of stuff that happens around these birthdays. And I want to reflect a little bit. Of course I do receive wishes. A lot of people are posting about it, sending wishes, and have a very different perspective about birthdays from the beginning. 

Very early on in my life, I was never much interested in the celebrations as such, and also the day itself used to be a very interesting day for me because I was not very happy on any of my birthdays.I used to be contemplating reflecting on why am I here? What is this about? But parents always want to celebrate this special day and make it special for you. Friends and family were always interested in doing something special about it.

But I used to be in a state of very reflective mode of what is going on. Why am I here? What is the purpose? Why are we doing all these things? So, inside there used to be some unknown lacuna on that day.

After that I used to get busy with studies and education and all that. But that lacking was always there until, when I was 33, when I met ancient Sage Sunita Amma. That completely changed and I never was sad again after that, I was never having the lacuna within, because I’ve realized the purpose of my birth.

I realized, why am I here in this world? I realized what I need to be doing in this lifetime in this world. So that was a transformative moment. And that’s why I wanted to share some of the insights. Some of the wisdom about what ancient text ancient sages have taught us about this cycle of a life cycle of birth and death.

In fact, ancient wisdom says:

vāsānsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya

navāni gṛihṇāti naro ’parāṇi

tathā śharīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇānya

nyāni sanyāti navāni dehī 

which means ‘just like the cloth, the shirt or piece of dress that we wear, very similar to that, this body also gets worn out and withers away or a period of time worn out or a period of time, very similar to the dress that we wear’. You see, I’ll probably wear the shirt for a few months, a few years, maybe. And after that, this shirt is going to be gone to recycle. It gets recycled. Literally. We take it and make a donation. Somebody else may use it or it might get recycled and the threads fall apart. It goes back into the Earth. And again, of course, in the form of plants and the form of cotton thread, everything comes back into life again. And then again, it goes back.

So just like this piece of cloth here, our body also gets recycled. In fact, our body gets recycled every moment. We don’t realize that every moment, thousands of cells in our body are dying and there are new cells forming in our body. So this body is not static. And we know that truth because I am not the same person who I was when I came into this world at the time of birth. And I’m not going to be the same person in a few more years because this body is going to get old. And we see that with our parents, with our elderly members in the society, in our family, that they are not the same people. So this body gets worn out. And then this gets recycled. But ancient wisdom says, yes the body gets worn out, but there is something inside you which is permanent, which is changeless.

And the essence of the birth is to realize that changeless the one that does not die with this body, the one that does not perish with these trillions of cells in our body. So the ancient wisdom says:

nainam chindanti sastrani

nainam dahati pavakah

na cainam kledayanty apo

na sosayati marutah

It means ‘The changeless one, can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burnt by the fire, nor drenched by water, nor withered by the wind. None of these elements in this nature can destroy it’. That is the one that we need to catch. Once I realized that changeless Atma, the soul, the spirit my life has transformed completely. I actually celebrate every moment. Every moment is new to me. Every moment is joyful. Every moment feels blissful because I realized the purpose of this birth is to realize that changeless form.

So, my dear friends, I don’t say that you should not celebrate birthdays. Yes, you’re going to cut the cake, blow out the candles, have those balloons, and have a lot of flowers. But each of those actions start to realize the essence of this birth. Every time you are looking at that candle, see that light that is coming out of that candle. Every time you light the candle with so many other candles equating to your number of birthdays that you’re celebrating, 25 or 30 or 33 or 40 or whatever you’re celebrating. Imagine the power of that single candle when lit can transform so many others. Similarly the changeless light inside you has the power to bring light into so many other lives. We know people are suffering every day out there, and we can eliminate the suffering by bringing this light of knowledge, of the self knowledge of Atma, knowledge of the soul into their lives. If one becomes that candle and starts to light many more candles, we will see more light in this world.

At the same time, also realize that this flicker of a candle is momentary. It’s going to go away, just like the candle is going to disappear in a moment. It’s going to melt away. After a few hours, this body is going to melt away too, but before this body perishes, you can light so many other candles. You can bring light into so many other lives similar to candles.

When you are seeing the balloon, you see the balloon, you blow that air into the balloon. But that balloon is going to burst one day and then the air is going to become one with the air outside. Very powerful lesson from the balloons is that the air that I breathe, you breathe is all the same. In fact, this body is what is separating us. But realize that that one inside is the same in the other person as well. And this is what ancient wisdom speaks about. The unity in diversity. Realize the sense of Oneness. The air inside your lungs and the air in the lungs of the other person is also the same. This is exactly what balloons teach us. You blow 100 balloons, but the air in all the balloons is common. And one day the air in each balloon is going back to its source. The way it came back from that one source, it is going back to the same source. Similarly, this Atma or Soul is the individual consciousness and is going to merge back into the pure universal consciousness. 

We also receive flowers on our birthdays. We celebrate with these flowers. Look at the selflessness of these flowers, how they are bringing joy into our lives.They are part of this beautiful plant. And then we pluck the flower from the plant. We prepare this bouquet and bring joy into our lives. Similarly, become that flower to bring joy into other lives. The way we surrender, they take that flower to a temple or church or to a place of worship, and you give it to others and the flower is surrendered to others. Similarly, surrender this flower of your existence, this beautiful flower of body and mind to that higher energy. Call it God, call it divine, call it whatever you want to call it. But there is that higher power beyond and surrender yourself to that source. Take care of this body as that beautiful flower, nurture this tenderly day by day, giving proper food, proper nutrition, proper habits, proper thoughts, and create this beautiful divine flower. And surrender this divine flower to the highest pure energy. This is the purpose of our birthday and life.