Thursday, August 29, 2013

Retirement at 40-45?

I have met people, who though financially successful in their jobs, want to retire by 40-45. In most cases I sensed some sort of burn out and frustration in the background leading to the conscious mind seeking, what it feels as, the best possible exit from the situation. In other words, retirement by 40-45.

Of course it is the individuals choice. But, I felt it was not, at least in most cases, a free choice - meaning not a choice born out of a clear understanding of oneself. In most of the cases, I was reminded of the following fabulously deep insight from the yoga sutra (chapter 2)

ब्रह्मचर्यप्रतिष्ठायां वीर्यलाभः
Brahmacaryapratiṣṭhāyāṁ vīryalābhaḥ

The above sutra basically means, if one is established in brahmacarya, one gains potency. Normally this is understood as, if one is careful about ones sexual behaviour, one gains energy to pursue other activities in life. This interpretation is of course true. Olympic level athletes are indeed regularly advised to stay away from sex for a certain time period before their performance. Nevertheless, this interpretation is at a very gross level. There are deeper meanings (as always, with the yoga sutra).

Brahmcaryam literally translates as 'moving towards the Brahman'. This is no simple task. This means different things for different people. Even for the same person, this will mean different at different stages of life / in different situations in life.

To understand what it could mean for one, one needs to look at ones life and ones vision for ones life. This is just the first step and most people do not even cross this. There is no concept of vision in most peoples life. The subtext in most persons lives is avoidance of pain and pursuit of pleasure. Of course, neither is this wrong nor are they against brahmacarya when done in appropriate quantities. To figure out what is appropriate, the vision becomes all important. Without a vision, these two activities becomes the sole motto of life. But, when there is a vision, all of life's challenges (pressure exerted by pain and pleasure on ones life) are dealt with in order to progress towards the vision. 

So, at some stage of life for some people, it might be important to choose a job purely for monetary considerations. But, that may not be appropriate all along. If it outlives its longevity, it will start causing trouble. This will become evident by the loss of enthusiasm for work and life. This indicates that one is going against brahmacarya.

I would wager that most of the people who have spoken to me about retirement at 40-45 belong to this category. One has chosen a profession purely for monetary purposes (though superficially one may claim one is interested in the technical aspects of the job). It may even be for other purposes. But those purposes have outlived their normal life span. But, the individual is still stuck with it and the prana has become stale leading to dullness and lethargy.

When one recognises this, then one starts to question the lack of vision in ones life. The easiest way to figure this out to ponder about the value ones life is adding to the world. A deep vision emerges both gradually and as quantum leaps. Slowly one becomes dissatisfied with every aspect of ones life that is not in line with the vision. This fire of dissatisfaction engulfs one and eventually all of ones life is aligned with some higher goal. This process itself gives the energy needed to take the next step in the process. This is brahmacaryam. Continuous refinement of oneself and moving towards higher and nobler aspects of life.

A person on this path clearly sees that there are a zillion tasks of high importance to be done in this world and the world needs highly motivated people with deep vision. The individual on the path of brahmacaryam naturally and willingly take up those tasks that are appropriate for the individual to deal with. There will be no slacking of energy as one can get all the energy needed in the wellspring of energy within. One may switch professions etc but there would be no retirement motivated by lack of enthusiasm. Thus, any time one feels lethargic and dull about of life, it might be useful to see which parts of ones life are not in alignment with brahmacaryam. That's were work is needed to fix the dullness!

1 comment:

Saravanan Mathialagan said...

More breeds more. Retiring at 40 to me, is like the story of cutting the hen to find all the eggs at once. Most of my colleague here have the same goal to make, save money so greedily that one can save himself from wither and tither in the economy and live without external dependence. There is more life in the present moment.