How to Retire Comfortably Now
- Realisation: How to Retire Comfortably Now
The subway bank ad asks, "Will I be able to retire comfortably?" I see on it a young man frowning in deep thought as he sees a happy old couple with a luggage trolley. They look like they are going on tour. Financial planning, investments, stocks and shares, bonds and unit trusts, insurance schemes... This guy got me frowning too, as I start worrying about my future. Have I saved enough for my rainy days? How many rainy days will I face? How much is enough? How do I save or create more wealth? So many bothersome questions- and hey, I'm not even middle-aged. Well, the in thing these days is to plan young and retire young. The above questions are reasonable. But do they prepare us enough? What if I end up saving for a rainy day that never comes? What if it's much ado about nothing, as I scrimp and save for a non-existent future? What if I die young? Will I live long enough to retire? What if I live longer than expected? Will I have to "un-retire"?
Isn't material investment a gamble to some extent? Obviously, the solution to the dilemma is not to forsake planning, but to plan appropriately, with balance on the Middle Path, without going to the extreme of over-speculating about the shifty unpredictable future. There is no foolproof financial planning, but trust karma to always be foolproof in dishing us our just deserts. The investment more worth making is in spiritual happiness (the ultimate being Enlightenment), for money cannot buy happiness. History tells us the richest are seldom the happiest. It is interesting though, that sharing material wealth wisely and willingly can be a source of happiness. If one takes care of one's spirituality, practising generosity and loving-kindness with wisdom, one will always have adequate material needs. But if one practises only to acquire wealth, it limits its merits as it becomes an act of selfishness instead of pure generosity. Selfishness also leads to less generosity, as we give less readily to the needy, thinking we will need all our wealth for the future. Failing to "invest" in generosity, we become spiritually and materially poor.What I am sure of is this- I can never be sure whether I can retire comfortably, if I do retire at all... (what if I love my work so much that it does not feel like work?) But I can choose to live comfortably now. If I were to live each moment mindfully with Compassion and Wisdom, I would be planting karmic seeds for future happy moments to be possible. This leads all the way up to old age, death, and the next life (if any)!
Fill in the blanks with your planned age: Get promoted by __, married by __, car by __, first child by __, second child by __, get house by __, retire by __, tour the world by __, die happily by __ . Is this a perfect plan? Only if life unfolds as planned. No one knows when death will strike. Real practical life planning would include planning for how you would handle it should you not survive the next second. Will you leave life unwillingly, hankering on your inability to live your "perfect" plan? Or will you leave content? Don't just plan for the long run, but for the shortest run too. You can buy material insurance, but do you have spiritual assurance?
You can "retire" comfortably NOW. Yes, even if you are young and working hard. The old retired couple in the ad are happy because they got no worries for the future, and do not drag past concerns with them on their holiday. Every day is holiday to them. Real happy retirement is thus retiring, returning, into the present moment, without unneccesary burdens of the past or future. To retire is to rest. What will you rest for? Do you rest for resting's sake, or for a more important goal? For serious cultivation for Enlightenment? What makes you think you should practise hard only when old, when the day might never come? Interestingly, the Buddha never retired from preaching what He practises, from practising what he preaches, even giving his "last" sermon moments before parinirvana. The Buddha revealed that His infinite Compassion never exhausts, as He continually manifests in countless worlds to share the Truth. Yet in the midst of His activity, He rests retired in His inner peace and stillness. Let's learn to retire like Him! I look at the young man again, and thought... Let's not frown too much about the future now, and forget to smile the Buddha's smile.
Any thoughts or similar experiences? Tell us!
- shian@... | www.stonepeace.blogspot.com
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