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The Tao Of 'Retirement'

02/01/2016 8:26 AM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 9:02 PM IST
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Senior woman drinking iced water while relaxing on a deckchair in an allotment during late afternoon

What an unusual way of celebrating the birth of a child! Hats off to Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, who, in a touching gesture after the birth of their daughter Max, plan to give away most of their fortune through a new initiative to "advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation."

Usually when a child is born the parents plan to invest in her future, save money so as to give her comfort and education. But this remarkable couple thought of celebrating their parenthood by sharing most of their wealth with the underprivileged. Max was born in the week of Thanksgiving, and what better way there could be of expressing their gratitude?

This reminded me of the recent announcement of Bill Gates about his retirement from the day-to-day workings of the mighty Microsoft. Zuckerberg called Bill Gates his "hero" and has taken lot of inspiration from him. Bill Gates clearly stated that it was not a retirement, it was a reprioritisation. If at the crescendo of his career he wants to spend more time on global health and education work, things that are closer to his heart, I would say it is a natural flowering of a creative genius.

Creativity is ceaseless evolution in multiple dimensions. Renouncing one job and diversifying into something totally different is a freedom enjoyed by rare individuals. The eastern wisdom has supported renunciation as a culmination of a fruitful life. But this renunciation is not pessimistic, or because one has become useless, this a vertical flight of the spirit.

I would like to share the wisdom of the ancient Chinese master Lao Tzu:

Retire when your work is done--

Such is heaven's way

What does he mean, "work is done?"

Osho explains it lucidly:

"When you see that a work has given you balance, that you have attained happiness, don't ask for more. Retire, enjoy it. Revel in it. The mind is always asking for more. There are two dimensions. One is horizontal... more, more, more. You move in a line. You are on the point A; you want to be on the point B, then on C. Soon you will reach XYZ. And Z is the door to hell. This is mechanical mind. No moment to enjoy, no moment to celebrate, no moment to retire and be. Then there is another way of life: the vertical. You move from A to Al to A2 to A3 in a vertical line, in depth. Whatsoever is in the moment you move deep into it. And then even one moment becomes eternity. And your happiness knows no bounds. "

Retirement doesn't happen at the end of your career, it happens every moment, every day. After finishing a project step back and take time off to enjoy it. Retirement has nothing to do with old age or infirmity. It simply means you don't postpone enjoyment, you enjoy the here and now; do not cling to your creations. This is a deep moment of total balance, tranquillity. The Tao.

By Amrit Sadhana

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