The Retirement Trap

October 6th, 2014




“Everyone may appear to be asleep but some have only a little sleep in their eyes and will awake when they hear the truth.”


– Ananada (first cousin and attendant to the Budhha)



Last week I attended a birthday party of a friend. It was particularly special because it also marked the official end of his working life. His last day at work was the day before and now, for his 65th birthday, a surprise gathering had been organized. We had been asked to write some words of advice or inspiration for how he might spend his retiring years and put them in hat for him to take out and read later.



My advice to him was simple:


“Pretend to others, if you must, that you are retired but never actually retire.”


It came across as a joke but it was also serious. Because retirement has serious consequences for personal and collective health.



Did you know that actuaries for insurance companies – the people paid to put hard numbers to seemingly intangible things like life expectancy – estimate an average of only 5 years life after formal retirement? It is even more quantifiable where a job has been a career; that is, where a person has gained no small measure of identity from their work.



The removal of this identity is tantamount to instructing the body that its time of usefulness is over and to begin programming its own demise. This is important to be aware of because it is an unconscious creation.



You may remember from last week’s blog (and many others for that matter) that we discussed the role of unconscious creation and attraction. (Here is the link)



In another blog the role of the collective ‘super-ego’ was seen as one that guides our thinking and therefore also what we create and attract. (Click here for more on that)



Retirement is often positioned by banks, pension funds and social conditioning as the time where one can finally  begin enjoying the ‘good life’. Let us see about that…




Aging by numbers


Here is an example. I recently read a newspaper article that was meant to be a humorous look at the ‘problems’ of each age group. It went through each decade of life but mysteriously stopped at retirement age stating that the problem with this particualr age group was the thoughts of ‘approaching infirmity and death’ that sabotaged all those ‘what I’m going to do when I’m free from work’ dreams.



The trouble with super-ego values are that people in the groups subscribing to them, believe in them. Strangely enough, if we believe, for example, that “I am now a certain age. Soon I will probably get sick and die.” – our body will oblige us.



On the one hand then we are told we are free. On the other those same pension funds and insurance fund companies are betting their profits upon freedom not lasting that long. Recent attempts by most Western governments to raise the age of retirement only makes their motives more transparent.





“You are getting sleepier and sleepier”: Collective hypnosis and retirement.




In the 1970’s I remember predictions of the future being centered around all the leisure time we would be enjoying and the new industries that would arise to cater for it. We would have a three day working week. Technology would replace menial work and free our time for more Platonian pursuits of beauty and truth.






Look around you now. Is that what you see? What happened to this dream world? Instead we have seen:


  • The systematic breakdown of social contracts built over the preceding eighty years.
  • The crippling of union movement and collective bargaining to be replaced by individual, temporary ‘work contracts’.
  • Public utilities were sold off without a public referendum.
  • Deregulation of the banking system that led to the current crashes and scandals we have experienced in recent times – including the outright robbery of many pension funds.



So it seems the secure dream we were promised was just that, a dream.





Dreams however are the entertainment of the sleeping.





A New Age or ‘Same as it ever was’1



Many people have been talking about a ‘New Age’ of enlightenment for some time now. In the West, during the first 30 years of the 20th century, a veritable pot pourri of influences were streaming in from all over the world giving rise to a vibrant culture of new ideas.



It was dampened by the Great Depression, World War Two and the cold war that followed. It was not until the counter-culture revolution in the 1960’s that this spirit arose again. It even proved strong enough to stop the Vietnam war. As it so happens, many people from that period are now of retirement age.



What dispersed this movement was not the moral decay of drug abuse (the oft repeated argument for the end of counter culture) but something far more addictive: greed.





From the generated fear of fake oil crises in the 1970’s to Reaganism and Thatcherism of the late 70’s and into the 1980’s we were drawn into a dream of wealth. The retirement dream was also fueled by this even as it was being systematically dismantled.




Retirement: A trap for older players







Is this really a dream worth pursuing anyway? Sure, ‘selfies’ of our beach brown legs and feet looking out to sea at some resort might seem like the harmless fun of Facebook photo fodder but it isn’t sustainable – for anyone. The luxury addiction is not only a trap for the young, superficial or ambitious.



What sort of conscious dream depicts us as some spoiled pasha being served cocktails by a minimum wage slave in a resort who’s very existence plunders the environment – in itself an insulting eyesore of decadence in a poverty ravaged third world country?



After giving the majority of our time to work and personal responsibilities are we really going to waste this short window of freedom turning our minds to mush on ‘the good life’ of luxury consumerism, organized tourist activities or mindless TV distractions interspersed only by the rhythmic tick tock of meal breaks – whether we are truly hungry or not?



This only dulls our mind and fattens our body for the inevitable culling to come. Why do you really think dementia is at an all time high in developed countries? We have simply lost our true purpose so our mind has fled ahead of the body.




Playing the percentages



So now we know that the hard numbers are against us as the bean counters play the percentages that their pay out in our retirement will be much less that what we have payed in during our working life.



There is another percentage game to play however. A few years ago a theory was brought to my attention about the nature of collective consciousness.2 It used an interesting formula to explain the so-called ‘100th monkey’ idea.



For those not aware of it, in the 100th monkey metaphor only relatively few young monkeys need to learn how to peel bananas to access the delicious pulp inside before the whole group ‘knows’ what to do. This ‘group mind’ is affected by the highest denominator of consciousness overruling ignorance. It was given a percentage:


The square root of 1% of the population


In a world of nearly 7 billion that is a little over 8,000 people. Now does it look so impossible and unrealistic that what we do consciously, matters?







There is more we can do than just meditate, however worthy a practice that is.




Don’t retire!



old yoga


Retirement age is not the time to be a shy, retiring type. We need the rebellious, lateral thinking of this valuable group that is still somewhere in there from more youthful times.



So much of the world has a full time job just surviving. The privilege afforded us in so-called first world countries also presents both an opportunity and a responsibility to focus a little further up the chakra chain away from survival and power concerns.



This was the original purpose of the Brahman or priest class in the Indian caste system. Those that were afforded the time and opportunity could explore consciousness to aid others who did not.3



We have the opportunity to contribute to raising collective consciousness through the choices we make with the time we have. Yes, our youth-obsessed culture may have devalued the older members of society – but so have many of those of pension age through buying into the collective hypnosis of retirement.



Is this the world we want our children and grand children to live in? No? Then do something about it:


  • Agitate for change by making your voice heard. Politicians pay serious attention to the so-called ‘gray vote’. Use it to support the bigger picture of equality and social change more than self-interest.
  • Use what financial resources you have to buy yourself time by releasing yourself (not buying more of) material things.
  • Make it your personal responsibility to maintain a calm, joyful state as much as possible. Resist the urge to be a relay station for negativity. Make it known to others who do that it is not something you wish to nourish with them.
  • Join in with younger groups and enlighten each other with the cross-pollination of ideas and creativity that flow from such meetings.
  • Organize your own for body-mind practices like meditation, creativity and sharing ideas.
  • Participate in meaningful activities that stimulate your spirit with joy, creativity and love while avoiding hypnotic, repetitive distractions.
    • Learn something new. Whether it is a musical instrument or a new skill keep your mind and heart limber
  • Read inspiring books. Resist the urge to follow the trend into distracting negativity (crime novels, ‘food porn’, gossip and scandal stories). That will just take you away from your Self.
  • You are older. You are not growing and probably not exercising at an elite level. Cut down on all that food that you are really only eating out of mechanical habit. It is just sludging up your system and speeding your demise.
    • Even more important then to make sure what you do eat is of high quality.
  • Set an example to your kids and grand kids through your choices and actions. Inspire them. Otherwise you are just contributing to the collective hypnosis.



Instead of living a cynical, programmed dream to be among the ‘one percent’, let us set our sights higher: To be among the square root of one percent.


Not only will the collective consciousness benefit from our efforts, so will we. A mind and heart that has purpose and inspiration will tell the body to stick around for the ride.


And what a ride it could be…



May Mondays never retire,




1 ‘Once in a lifetime’ Talking Heads. Written by David Byrne, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth. 1980

2 It is attributed to a Harvard university study on meditation in 1993

3 Of course it became corrupted as the whole of the caste system was rigid and essentially flawed. The idea that a group might choose willingly to take on this role after a life of more worldly service is still valid however.



© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:

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