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Thoughts about Birthdays

SystemSystem Moderator
edited October 2018 in General Banter
This discussion was created from comments split from: Birthdays?.

The original thread is 5 years old. Thought a new thread would be topical...


  • "This precious human birth, so favorable for the practice of the dharma, is hard to obtain and easily lost. At this time, I must make this meaningful."

    Does the celebration serve to remind myself and others to practice now and make this present existence meaningful? I think the celebration can be useful and meaningful... It has that potential. And likewise, I think, it can be a distraction, meaningless. But there is no doubt in my mind that this human birth is precious and I should use any tool I'm offered from the toolbox that makes this existence useful and celebrate every opportunity I have to do so. I recently had a birthday and my family celebrated it together. My focus was on each of them, displaying gratitude. My aspiration was to make the celebration a benefit to them. That's what I want them to learn from my life here and now. Was I successful? Only in a very small way. But isn't that what we have, moments, small ways to make a difference? This precious human birth is an opportunity to benefit others, each in their own boat on the same ocean of existence.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    I think a birthday is always a good time to reflect on the passing of the year, to see where we were and where we have gone, the choices we have made. It’s also a good time to celebrate with friends and family, the dharma often doesn’t focus enough on celebration.

    But the years and the celebration change in meaning as you get older. When you’re young it’s a passage towards adulthood, each successive year, but when you’re old it means one year closer to Yama’s hand beckoning you. I think that’s why older people tend to go for progressively more low-key celebrations.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    I avoid mine now lol

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited October 2018

    I favor noting all the holidays, including birthdays. Of course at my age you tend to get forgetful. :)

    PS. Will someone please tell me who, exactly, calls human birth "precious."

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    Well human birth is a wonderful phenomenon, and many women get swept away on hormonal tides at just the memory ;) It’s going to be precious to somebody...

  • What if celebrating a birthday, instead of celebrating one's own, would be a time to self-assess what merits you can deliver? For example, a dishwasher or a hotel front desk that earns minimum wage cannot afford to pay for an elaborate meal and a movie. If they honor their gifts, the ones that are lying dormant inside of them, perhaps they will come up with inspiration for a gift to give? The 1st Paramita instructs the bodhisattva to be generous in thoughts and actions. By meditating a practitioner develops the concentration to develop a project. If for example, the dishwasher knows how to bake bread (like Edward Espe Brown did at Tassajara when he was a dishwasher) he could give the gift of bread. It is a modest idea to put into consideration, also make sure planning is done. To be creative homemade bread can make a breakfast, dessert and a sandwich. Look deeply to understand what your own gifts are that you can share with someone to make their life meaningful, cared for, and thought of.

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