Worthy To Be Acquired Art ……. 4th Chapter of the book ‘Address of Happiness’ [a.k.a. સુખનું સરનામું] by Shri Haresh Dholakia

  • The Government is seriously thinking of reducing the retirement age.
  • The private companies offer voluntary retirement scheme to employees beyond 45 years in age.
  • The Indian politicians are too old to remain efficient. The youth should be given the due opportunity. – An opinion
  • A very old president of the trust, who had stuck to the post for many years, removed at last by the demand of the majority.
  • An old man was caught eve-teasing.

A middle aged lady came to a professional counsellor and narrated her problems as hereunder;

“I will be 60 very shortly. I am from rich family. I have all material comforts. I have a vehicle, servants, everything at my disposal. I have travelled to many countries either alone or with my husband. I have travelled all over India, too. In short,  I lead heavenly life.”

“In spite of all these, why is mind so restless, why so loss of peace? My husband is a true gentleman. Even as he is fully engrossed with his business, he does respect me. My sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren are all very nice, too. Of course, they are occupied with their activities and do not find much time to talk to me. I am alone at home. Everything is so all right, still, why am I restless?”

The counsellor stares at the lady and replies: “Madam, do you want the real answer or the answer that you would like to hear?”

The lady looked back confused and said, “of course, the right answer.”

He said: “You will not like it.”

The lady was now more upset, but said: “It doesn’t matter. I wish peace, hence give me the right answer.’

He said: “Your restlessness is not because of material comforts but because of individuals.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that your husband is a nice person, but does not have time for you. Can he not spare even some time for you? Sure, he can. But he no longer needs you. He is no more dependent on you. His all requirements are met, even without your physical presence. He gets more pleasure in company of others, may that of his young professional colleagues, which he used to get in your company earlier.

“In the same way, your sons are occupied with their families. Your place is now occupied by their wives and children. Your daughters-in law have to look after their husbands and children. The children have their parents, their education and have other activities to enjoy. For all of them, you are an old, out-of-date person, so they avoid you.

“You have all material pleasures, but you do realize that no one needs you. This is what pains you. That’s why you are not happy.”

She then continued in the response: “But, sir, I have observed one more thing these days. They all get-together and talk very happily when one someone visits us. The moment I enter the room, they will recall some task and start dispersing one-by-one. Why?”

The counsellor smiled and said: “Because you carry the smell of your past birth with you.”

“What does that mean?”

Have you experienced mosquito repellent? How the mosquitoes get repealed by its smell? I am sorry to say, but you are probably human repellent!”

She responded with visible irritation, “But why? I love them all a lot.”

“True. You love them a lot. But, possibly, you have two common weaknesses of old age.”

“Which are they?”

“Whenever old people are with the young people, they talk of two things – one is: “The youth is quite spoiled” or the other one is: “Ours was such a good period.””

“The youth dislikes the first one and either they are not interested or are doubtful about the second one. This why they run away from the company of the old as if they see bomb to explode, even though they love them.”

‘’But then, what is the solution?” the lady asked.

The counsellor was now quite pensive while replying to the lady: “First, accept candidly that ’you are no more wanted’. Never be under the illusion of indispensability.  Accept that your time is running out. Be prepared to live alone. That is important.”

“You need to develop a sense of detachment. If anyone, either your husband or your children, seek your help, please do so, but do not interfere if not called for. Don’t’ proffer unsolicited advice. Do love all, but do not be possessive. Provide freedom to them. This is called – (disciplined) detachment. Accept their non-acceptance, even though they are yours. That’s all. You will have your peace in no time.”

This is common story at all levels – at home, at organizations, at national level. Most of the people suffer from this disease of ‘indispensability’ as they grow old. The illusion develops like rheumatism in the minds of the old people. So they get hyper-active, increasingly try to grab the status, counsel more whether called for or not. Then dawns, the grudging realization. People look at them, listen to them but their attention is somewhere else. The old now feel neglected.

Why this illusion?

As a person grows in retirement, he nears retirement. He sees reins of control passing over to the young. He seems to be getting pushed to the backseat. Because he is now on pension, his earning has gone down. That breeds more insecurity. His authority, status, power, respect are on the wane, which were his symbols of existence till today. When these things have receded, what is now left out for him? This phobia further fuels possessiveness to these things. He catches hold of his family members, seeks more status in his organization, yeans for more power, and in turn becomes more unpopular. He is further neglected. This sets in a vicious circle. No harsh dialogues, no insults traded, no visible signs of violence, but still, there all pervasive feeling of neglect is now being felt all the time.

As they become more upset and restless, they seek solace in meditation camps and religious discourses, but return home in the original state of mind. They waste a fortune in this way.

In reality, this never was the problem. If a problem has to be identified with a name, this will be known as ‘problems of lack of understanding.’

As one gets old, one needs to learn the art – the art of retirement. Retire voluntarily, before it enforced.

The Indian Culture calls this as ‘vanprasthashram.’ – the stage in life where one takes voluntary retirement from the active life of ‘grihasthashram.’

As a sage has said, “’Sanyas’ means become sanyasi before the god forcibly does do” .In other words, one of the spouse is bound to die of old age earlier than the other one. This is when the other one will be compelled to live alone – the life of a’sanyasi’.  So why not cultivate the habit of staying alone, before forced, while living among all. This is called ‘sanyas.’

“But would one not be bored after retirement?”

Retirement does not mean being inactive completely. You are free to work or serve, but not with any ambition of status, appreciation or frame in return. Dedicate your remaining life towards discharging your dues to the society, which is possible with only the selfless service. Advise the new generation only if asked. Else, follow them and do what they say. Leave the organization if you cannot do this. But do not carry illusion that the organization will suffer in your absence. Even if such an eventuality does happen,  be at ease, with reasoning – “what would have happened, If I had died?”.

Your desire and insistence should be dead. Then you are free to work.

The following sentence in Karsandas Manek’s “Mahabharat” is worth remembering, “The most important characteristic of Purushottam or the greatest person is they have the intuition, when to take leave from the stage of life. They know when to retire.

It is all right  if we are not Purushottam, but we can develop this intuition, we can be one.

And then our life will be full of peace, calmness and joy.

Translated by : Susmita Vaishnav, Ahmedabad

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