Week 1: Addicted to the Rewards of the World

“Whilst we thus dwell with earnest minds, eager, unweariedly, the memories of household things pass from us; and as they so pass, the heart grows ever more steady, becomes quieted and unified, finds peace.”—the Buddha.

For this course I will be both your guide and your companion. I will organize the sessions and introduce some inspiring readings which also offer practical and sober views of the latter part of our lives. However, this is a path that all of us take, in one way or another, and I intend for us all to be involved in discussing our personal lives, aspirations and fears. I would like to organize the discussion around what you are all comfortable with. I will begin the sessions with short remarks. We will have some exercises and a contemplation. The core of the class will be a conversation. I hope it will be challenging and loving and helpful for all of us.

A Note on Class Discussions: These are extended discussions. For those of you who enjoy talking (like me!) try holding back and give others a chance (I, too, will make this effort, although I will also work on encouraging people and coming up with new discussion ideas). For those of you who tend to be quiet, make an effort to move out of your comfort zone and share your thoughts with the rest of the group.  Everyone should be sensitive to each other’s feelings. On the other hand, we’re not fragile flowers either: we should all be able to handle some lively discussion. If you feel distracted or emotional, you can opt out of the discussion at any time by muting the video or blanking your screen. Also, be aware of what the rest of us are seeing on your screen. If you have to move around during the meeting, turn off your video while you’re doing that: a rapidly moving video can be very distracting. If you have to talk to someone, turn off your sound AND your video for that period of time.

Thoughts for the first week’s discussion.

We’ve been conditioned to reject the idea of retirement because we’ve spent our entire lives being told we have to be successful.  We may love what we’re doing, or we may hate it. We may not know how we feel because of our deep habits. How do we figure out what we really want?

The Buddha repeatedly told us to examine our conditioning. His teachings on Dependent Origination explain that our suffering is caused primarily by ignorance. We are ignorant or don’t fully understand the extent of our conditioning, which gives rise to a continuing cycle of desire and pain; that is, wishing things to be other than what they are. This constant dissatisfaction born of ignorance leads to suffering.

Which leads to retirement and all that signifies. Retirement is really just a concept, and I believe, as we all discuss our individual stories surrounding it, we will find out that the actual experience of retirement is very different from its concept.

Contemplation:

You may, if you wish, think about your feelings right now on retirement. As I state in my short contemplation below, retirement means a lot more to me than just not formally working. What is your experience when you think about your retirement? You can write about it if you wish, and share with the group if you wish. We can discuss how that might work during the meeting.

Wendy’s contemplation:

Sept. 14, 2019

It will be 3 years since I retired: This is third autumn that I haven’t had to start teaching classes again. That means we can stay at the cottage and not go back to Cincinnati: so now we can watch the changes: the hummingbirds have left, mushrooms are popping up, the trees are taking on that undefinable yellow-green tinge, and geese are flying overhead: south.

A small thought comes up: how many more beautiful autumns will I see? That darkens the beautiful day a little as I become  uneasy and a little sad, like a cloud going over the face of the sun. There is some grasping after the happiness I just felt, and with that comes suffering. Just a slight turn of thought.

Readings

The readings are just meant to give you some food for thought and ignite our discussions. And, by the way, you are all welcome to share articles with the group. Send me links and I’ll post them here!

1.

A Noble Path

2.

How Van Gogh Found His Purpose: Heartfelt Letters to His Brother on How Relationships Refine Us

3. Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/07/work-peak-professional-decline/590650/

4. The Biggest Wastes of Time We Regret When We Get Older

https://lifehacker.com/the-biggest-wastes-of-time-we-regret-when-we-get-older-1755526646

 

Link to Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, October 23, 7 to 8:30 pm:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/992048238

Recorded session: link