Freedom in Retirement

March 31, 2012

Many people think of retirement as an idealized time of freedom to do what they want, to pursue favorite pastimes and investigate new ones. The pressures and structures of the workplace and daily schedules are left behind. We have freedom to enjoy ourselves as we wish.

The concept of having freedom and taking advantage of it probably seems easy to grasp. But consider another point of view from the Bhagavad-Gita.

The Bhagavad-Gita is an ancient Hindu text dating from about 2,000 years ago. It tells the story of a conversation between a Warrior Prince and his Charioteer in a battlefield prior to the commencement of fighting. The Prince is reluctant to fight because many of the fighters on both sides of the battlefield are his relatives. His Charioteer, who is actually the Lord God Krishna, gives him advice on his duty as a warrior.

Basically, Krishna tells the Warrior Prince that since he is a warrior and the essence of his duty as a warrior is to fight, that fight is what he must do. The Prince has a hard time with this because while he knows it is his duty to fight he doesn’t want to fight his relatives.

Krishna talks with the Prince about yoga. Not the yoga of the modern day yoga studio but yoga in its broadest meaning as discipline. Krishna discusses three types of yoga: karma yoga or the discipline of action; jnana yoga or the discipline of knowledge; and bhakti yoga or the discipline of devotion. The Warrior Prince’s place in the universe, his destiny, is that of a warrior and therefore he must fight; he mustn’t let such ephemeral things as the fact he would be fighting his relatives get in the way.

Krishna’s larger point in this allegorical tale is that we all struggle at times with what we should do and what we might want to do based on ephemeral wants and desires. But discipline is what truly makes us free. Freedom from discipline means we are being driven by temporary, external forces. True freedom comes from self-control and discipline in support of what is truly important in life and not allowing ephemeral wants and desires to dictate our actions.

Food for thought…

R. Kevin Price

© 2008-2012 R.K. Price