NURTURING YOUR SPIRITUAL BANK ACCOUNT
One of the questions, which I discussed with my father twenty years ago, came up again recently. Only this time it is from my friends facing so called retirement plans. At that time my father insisted very strongly that I pay into the retirement/pension funds by the government. I told him that I didn’t think this would work when I come of age around 2025.
Nevertheless, this early confrontation gave me the creativity and great insight into how to change my so-called retirement plan and to prove to my father that there are other ways. Shortly before he died he did acknowledge my “wise” decisions and actually told me that he was proud of me to be so courageous.
My mother’s retirement situation works out perfectly, as my father always envisioned it. She has an apartment from the state and receives pension and social security money. She has first class health insurance and each month has enough money to travel and even save some. However, I still cannot imagine the same scenario 20 years from now perfectly working for my generation.
My mother lives in a 5-room penthouse apartment in Switzerland, overlooking France and Germany. Recently I took her on a visualization journey.
I asked her to close her eyes and imagine the following situation:
You are living in the same apartment. Your bedroom is the master bedroom. An elderly couple now shares the room I grew up in. My brother’s room is occupied by a single man in his 70’s and in my sister’s room lives an 80-year-old woman in a wheelchair. To take a bath you have to check a schedule posted at the door…
Suddenly my mother opened her eyes and said: ”Stop, my heart is going too fast. I don’t even want to imagine this, I would rather be dead then living like that”.
Well sure, she never had the experience of living in a community or had to share her apartment. This was way over her head and she admitted she is glad she does not has to live like that.
Well good for her, but what about the “baby boomers” who will be ageing without enough money in the retirement fund?
This question came up in many of my late night discussions with my friends living in small apartments who have no family or kids.
Here are some excerpts of what I learned and also read in Germany’s best-selling book, Das Methusalem-Komplott (The Methuselah Conspiracy), which highlights the grim economic reality that faces the country’s ageing population.
German officials are waking up to the realization that their current pension system is headed for imminent collapse. The present demographic trend reveals that, by 2050, more then half the population will be age 65 or older.
Although the trend is uniform across Europe, Germans may feel the pinch most, because of their highly state-funded pension system. Compared to other countries such as the UK, pensioners in Germany receive twice as much money from the public purse as their British counterparts.
In order to maintain the pension system, there must be at least four working-age people for every three retirees — by 2035 every worker will support one retired person.
The pension systems of the major industrialized nations will also be undermined, as a decimated labor force population combined with increased numbers of retirees cripples each country’s ability to afford pensions. For example, active workers in Italy will be outnumbered by retirees by 2030.
The main thesis is that the German population is imploding, not just because of a shortage of children but because young, qualified people are leaving in droves, making many regions even less attractive for job-creating investments. There are many reasons why Germans are waking up now. The reform of pension and healthcare systems, effects of reunification (most imploding regions are in the east) and the fact that Germany’s baby-boomers are becoming elderly, are all taking their toll on our confidence in the future. The fear is that Germany’s ageing will affect not just pension funds, but the whole society in how people live, work and relate to one another. It will diminish entrepreneurship and risk-taking, given that more than one-third of the population is older than 60.
Efforts to raise the birth rate may not succeed so smoothly. As women get better educated, the present lack of or poor child-care support tends to keep down the birth rate. Many young women feel that they cannot have both children and a career. Moreover, high opportunity costs in lost income and career chances encourage women putting off having a baby. The average first-time mother is almost 30.
All things considered, Germany is becoming a country dominated by ageing dinkies (double income, no kids).
Well, this is not only happening in Europe it is affecting all the highly industrialized countries. I have many friends who belong to the “baby boomer dinkies” group including Raphael and myself. I always believed in extended families and spiritual communities. I also know that is not something you will find when you are forced to move into a retirement home (or you may not even have the funds for it or they may not exist).
Friendships and spiritual family is something you create and tend when you are young. Look at it as a spiritual fund for aging. You cultivate good relationships. You care for each other and you may actively look for like-minded people. Invest in property or a house together. Learn skills for living with others such as good communications, how to recognize each other’s needs. Start getting to know your neighbors. Raphael and I are very blessed to live in a valley on an island where most of our friends have settled. We gather, we play, and we have spiritual practices we love to share. Bottom line: we care for each other and when rough times come up, we are there for each other.
I went to visit my mother because she is losing her vocal cords and talking on the phone has become more difficult. Her breath is short and her voice can barely be heard. When I was with her we went to visit some of her friends who now need living assistance. One woman lived in the same house as us, I grew up with her children, is now in a hospital because she cannot move her arms anymore. My mother drops by, brings her newspaper and sits with her. Her voice is good her arms are bad. My mother’s arms are good. She can help and she can listen.
Consider caring and loving. It is important that we are starting to take a look into the future and put some visions and thoughts together on how we like to age.
Where to we want to be. Be outrageous, paint the most wonderful picture and start to dream the future alive.
Now our bodies are strong. We still have some time to put a foundation into works. Aging is becoming a much slower process. We still will be climbing mountains even as we are getting up there in years. We have more longevity than our parents had but we may not have the pension fund they had. Start putting your good deeds onto your spiritual bank account. Create good friendships, care and share and start visioning your “golden age” now and create a future with a sustainable approach.
P.S. You may wonder why I wrote this article. I was stimulated by many of my friends on my recent journey to Europe and Los Angeles. This will be an issue more for the future but for all those who know me……… I am always speeding ahead and like to practice the great art of Tantra in visualizing and manifesting heaven on earth. For more inspiration read our newsletter July 2003 my article on “Visions and Dreams”.