Blog: On Retirement
My faithful readers comprise a wide cross section of the reading population. Among them is a group of persons whom I want to address and with whom I wish to share some thoughts that cross my mind daily. This group is the body of persons who have earned retirement after many years of service to the employer. Being a person who has been schooled to make constant self analysis, I am convinced about the intrinsic importance and authenticity of the Vedic belief of the four stages of life.
During my period of retirement I have noticed a radical change in my attitude to time. Time has never been mine since my birth. As a son I always had to be at my desk with a book till I finished my H.S.C.I thought I was liberated when I was abroad at university far from parental tutelage. This was an illusion for I had to steal time from the world during brief periods till the day of my retirement. Soon after I busied myself tying loose ends in my personal life. The real retirement started when I stopped feeling responsible for those who have had the habit of depending on me because I had to respect the code of the social institutions I had been involved in. I felt I did not have to go out of myself to express myself in the world. Time gained a new dimension. It became mine for the first time though I woke up in the early hours of dawn as usual I started the day at my ease and leisure. I was no longer in a hurry because I felt time would devour me. At work time schedules dragged me out of myself. Time distorted me, turned me into a superlative, compliant slave. But then can you live without having knocks at the door to demand your time? You may feel let down when you do not have to pay the toll of your time.
An important transformation that takes place is the distance, almost insensitive, you learn to take from the world you lived at work. Having been a civil servant who climbed the ladder from the low rung of an Educator to that of a Director, the itinerary is full of adversaries, rivals. Government institutions offer to you a society of rival factions jockeying for position to earn a promotion. You had friends but they occupied positions or adopted postures of animosity when it concerned their status in the hierarchy. The dichotomy between administrators and technical staff added another cause for the battle of one–up-manship you were bound to lose if you were one of the technical staff.I now see this world with a mockery for the triviality of human desire and greed. The mixture of political allegiance and professional performance that catapult a few to high places become glass-ceilings for those who have followed dogmatically the principle of impersonality and political neutrality everybody learns when he becomes a civil servant. Retirement is a respite to the life of continual rivalry in the world of work. Now it is a feeling of forgiveness of the backstabbers and arrogant tyrants of the civil chair that one feels. In fact this forgiveness is a subtle form of alienation from the world of sham, hate and arrogance. We carry a horde of unnecessary hostilities in a life of active service. The Mauritian society with its multiplicity and lack of mutual openness generates during your active service conflicting bonds and bonds of conflict. You live that with smiles and elegance. But you carry the scars of all the ill-expressed intentions that aim at reducing you to a non-entity.
Retirement is a feeling of benignant generosity that can see the triviality of all that constituted the core of your active life.
Mr Parsuramen, Chairman of Global Rainbow Foundation, talks of the need to give back to society what it has given to you. I am afraid this ‘give back’ is being motivated by an active-life equation. We are still in the volatile world of give and take. Retirement should be a gift to enrich yourself in terms of soul power in order to understand the essence of life. This force makes of you a giver, a compulsive giver. All those who have tight fists in retirement are still victims of an active life. Retirement is a higher form of action as long as one really retires, and enters the ashram without feeling that one’s previous life is incomplete. A complete ashram leads you to another ashram.
Can you just be a witness without feeling the anguish of joy or sorrow, gain or loss? You can ultimately only stand by the other and be of physical assistance. The sanyasi has reached a level of spiritual ascent that makes him a witness of reality ,and his own witness.
There is more cruelty in the mind of man than what seems to concern us. Debates about the secular status of Mauritius are ultimately an armchair exercise when we find the number of people who live in the horrifying dens of superstition in a country that claims to be modern. I can see a lot of trivialities that are given proportions of national importance with a smirk? Do they matter? Are we not mistaking the tree for the forest? This distance is a depersonalized vision of reality in a twilight vision where opposites have the same value. Retirement has the capacity to show the fact far from emotions.
Retirement is a new lease of life. It is not the end of life. A whole life of active se4rvice will need to be lived fully and to the hilt before sanyasa has any meaning.