Thursday, March 01, 2012

Buddhist Economics

One of my co-workers gave me an article on “Buddhist Economics” by Jim Grote. It contains some intriguing ideas, especially about retirement. It says that some life planners are counseling their clients to “focus less on retirement and more on finding meaningful work, and perhaps not retiring at all”. The article quotes the actor/comedian George Burns, who lived to be 100, who supposedly said “Do something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. Let’s be honest. Most of us dream of retirement because we have spent years of our lives doing work we do not love. We do this for a number of reasons. Some people work only for money. Some people don’t know what they love. Other people can’t make enough money doing what they love to support a family in today’s challenging economy. I have a friend who is a retired Methodist minister. He refers to his retirement as his “re-firement”. Too many of us have a narrow view of retirement. I think for most people retirement means no longer having to work. Retirement should be more than not working. My friend is using his retirement to re-fire and renew himself by doing meaningful work that he did not always have time to do when he had the demands of full time ministry. Another idea in the article was the idea of voluntary simplicity. Instead of always wanting more stuff, learn to live with less. A simple life is much cheaper than a life filled with many things and coupled with the desire for even more things. I am not advocating poverty. A life without the basics and the essentials is not a satisfying life. I think the Buddhists are on to something. A simple life filled with meaningful work, where money is not the primary motivation, would be a great retirement. This is the kind of life I hope to have in the final season of my life.

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