April 30 is Sri MA Anandamayi’s jayanti, or birthday.When MA was alive, her devotees celebrated her birthday with lavish ritual.
This body says that it was not born. But by celebrating such occasions, there is an increase of devotion, true knowledge, and satsang among devotees, and therefore I do not object to these activities. I enjoy them as others enjoy them. [MA called herself “this body.”]
There are riches of teachings in these few words.
From one View, there is no coming and going, no being born or dying. From this View, taken on its own, the celebration of a birthday makes no sense.
From another View, there is the utility of ritual and the possibility of increasing devotion and understanding. This is the View of sadhana, or practice. From this View, we are on a path. We are learning. The experiment of sadhana has purpose and direction.
From another View, there is simple enjoyment of what is. We simply enjoy the meeting place we call “duality.” At its most expansive level, this is actually living while holding no View.
MA comprehends and embodies all of these simultaneously.
For many of us, the View that there is no being born and no dying is as yet inaccessible except as a dimly perceived concept.
Simple enjoyment is also fleeting. Our tensions cause us to super-charge the details of our lives with dramatic importance. We are attached to spiritual earnestness. We are attached to the calamity of everyday life: a parking ticket, a fight with our boss. We are attached to the hysterical over-inflation of happiness or bliss.
Only when we relax the grand story of our lives–our triumphs, our failures, our beliefs, our victimizations, our anger, and our passions–do we discover abiding, simple enjoyment of life as it is.
However, the View of life as a path, with purpose and direction, the View of sadhana, is familiar to many people.
What MA’s birthday teaching conveys is that each of these–the View of no birth, the View of sadhana, and simple enjoyment of duality–is proper and appropriate, but no single one of them is complete when taken alone.
People sometimes said that MA’s state of consciousness was radically different from that of her followers. This is a View that emerges from an experience of separation. But each of these is true from a certain View: that her state of consciousness was radically different and that it was not different at all.
So MA says: I enjoy [these celebrations] as others enjoy them. She enjoys them in an ordinary way.
On another level, she experienced no difference between her own enjoyment and that of her followers. On this level, the concept of “my enjoyment,” and “others’ enjoyment” makes no sense.
MA teaches us, on her birthday, that the human inheritance is the capacity to participate in these modes of experiencing simultaneously. Likewise, her simple, down-to-earth words unfold the infinite potential of human life.