RETIRE when your work is done.

Rajiv Vaishnav
8 min readJun 2, 2024



WHEN YOU SEE that a work has given you balance, that you have attained happiness, don’t ask for
more; when you feel good don’t ask for more; when you are surrounded by a well-being don’t ask
for more. RETIRE, enjoy it. Revel in it. Dance with it. Don’t ask for more. The mind is always asking
for more.

The mind says, ”Okay, this is good, that I am feeling a certain well-being, but more is possible.
So first I should attain the more.” Then you miss that which was possible; that which had already become actual, you miss. And if you listen to this mind, which goes on for more and for more and
for more, it will lead you to the end, to the extreme. And suddenly you fall into hell, and you are
miserable, unhappy.

Whatsoever you gain, make it a criterion: if you are feeling good, if you are feeling well, if you are feeling blissful, silent, peaceful, a certain delight around you, life has become a song for this moment — then sing it! Don’t ask for more! Chew it, absorb it. Don’t ask for more. Retire… that is the meaning of retire. Now stop further efforts — enough! You have gained — now let it be, enjoy it. Live it! And then you will see: a different dimension comes to your being.

There are two dimensions. One is horizontal… more, more, more– that is the horizontal dimension. You move in a line. You are on the point A; you want to be on the point B. When you are on the point B, you want to be on the point C. Soon you will reach to XYZ. And from Z is hell. Z is the door of hell. But you cannot stop, the mind goes on. The mind says, ”Look, you are on C, and D is possible.

So why waste time on C, go to D. Then E becomes possible, so go to E.” No moment to enjoy, no moment to celebrate, no moment to retire and be. Doing, doing — never being… because being means that C is enough, now enjoy it. You have earned the bread for today — now retire. But the mind says, ”What about the safe in the bank? It is still half-filled. You have to fill it completely….”

In India, we call it THE VICIOUS CIRCLE OF THE NINETY-NINE. We have a story.

A poor barber was very happy, tremendously happy, as sometimes only poor people can be. He had nothing to worry about. He was the barber to the royal king; he used to massage him, to trim his hair, to serve him every day.

Even the king was jealous and he always asked him, ”What is the secret of your happiness? You are always bubbling. You seem not to be walking on the earth, you are simply moving on the wing. What secret is there?”

The poor barber said, ”I don’t know. In fact, I have never heard the word ‘secret’ before. What do you mean? I am simply happy. I earn my bread and that’s all… and then I retire.”

He must have been a Lao-Tzuan.

Then the king asked his vazier, his prime minister — and he was a man of knowledge, a very very knowledgeable man. He asked him, ”You must know the secret of this barber. I am a great king. I am not so happy, but this poor man, having nothing, is so happy.”

The prime minister said, ”He does not know anything about the vicious circle of ninety-nine.”

The king said, ”What is this?” The vazier laughed and said, ”You are in it but you don’t know it. We will do one thing. Tonight, we will throw a bag containing ninety-nine gold coins into the barber’s house, and then see what happens.”

They threw a bag containing ninety-nine gold coins into the house.

The next day the barber was in hell. He came very sad and worried; in fact, he didn’t sleep the whole night. He counted the coins in the bag again and again — … +..+…ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine. And he was so excited — how to sleep when you are excited? The heart was throbbing, the blood was circulating; there must have been a high blood pressure, an excitement. And he tossed and turned, and he could not sleep.

He would get up again, touch those golden coins, count again……+..+..ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine. He had never had the experience of counting coins but ninety-nine was the trouble — because when you have ninety-nine you want them to be a hundred. So, he was planning what to do the next day to get one coin.

One golden coin was a difficult thing to get. He was getting only a few paisa, and they were enough in those days. How to get one coin? — because one rupee, one golden rupee meant almost one month’s earning. What to do? He planned many ways — a poor man, not knowing much about money, he got into trouble. He could think of only one thing: that he would fast for one day and eat for one day. This way, by and by, he could accumulate one rupee. And a hundred rupees would be good…

Mind has a stupidity: to complete things. Mind is a perfectionist. Ninety-nine? The obsession is created: they must be a hundred.

He was sad. Next day he came– he was not flying in the sky, he was deeply on the earth… not only deeply on the earth, but a great burden, a stone-like thing hanging around his neck.

The king asked, ”What is the matter with you? You look too worried.”

He said nothing, because he didn’t want to talk about the bag. But every day the situation grew worse and worse. He could not massage well — he had no energy, fasting.

So the king said, ”What are you doing? Now you don’t seem to have any energy. And you look so sad and miserable. What has happened?”

So one day he had to tell the king; the king insisted: ”You tell me, I can be of help. You just tell me what is the matter.” He said, ”I am now a victim of the vicious circle of ninety-nine.”

When you have ninety-nine there is a vicious circle — you want them to be a hundred. This is the horizontal line. And don’t think that when they are a hundred, things will stop. Things never stop.

Mind does not know where to stop. It knows no stopping. That’s why it falls. It goes without stopping anywhere, from A to B, from B to C, and goes on and on until at Z it falls into hell.

Then there is another way of life; the vertical — not horizontal. You don’t move from A to B, from B to C — no. You don’t move in a line, on the same plane, on the same level — no. You move from A to A1 to A2 to A3 in a vertical line, in depth. You move into the depth of the A. Whatsoever is in the moment you move deep into it — not from this moment to the next, but in this very moment you move as deeply as possible. And then even one moment becomes eternity. And your happiness grows, knows no bounds. Your bliss grows, knows no bounds. And there is never an imbalance. You are always balanced.

A vertical mind is always balanced because a vertical mind is no more a mind. The whole effort of meditation is to give you a vertical mind. A vertical mind virtually means no-mind.

Then you move from A to A1, A2, A3 in depth, or in height vertically. When B comes, again you move from B1 to B2, B3. You never fall from anywhere because you always go into the depth. This is what retirement is. You have earned the bread today, now retire.

But you don’t know how to retire; you go on earning the bread in your dreams also. You lie down and you plan for tomorrow, and nobody knows whether the tomorrow is going to come or not. In fact, it never comes. It is always today. You are planning for the future, not knowing that death will destroy all future.

Remain in the moment — be wise. Live it as totally as possible and then you will know no death. Because a man who is not worried about tomorrow knows no death — he becomes deathless. Because death is tomorrow — life is today.

Death is in the future; life is always in the present — this is the meaning of retire. If you want me to translate this word ”retire” I will call it sannyas. You have to retire not in the end of life; retire every day, retire every moment. When you have enjoyed a moment, it is retirement, it is through retirement, it is sannyas.

When you come back from the office to your house, leave the office in the office. Don’t carry it in your head, otherwise the head will have a headache — bound to have! Such a big thing, the office, you carry in your head! It is heavy! The whole market in your head — it is heavy!

Retirement every day, retirement every moment…. The very word ”retirement” does not look good to us; it gives the feeling of old age, inability. Somewhere beyond sixty-five, when death comes near, then one retires. No, the word ”retire” is very beautiful. It is the meaning of sannyas. Retire means rest: the work is done, now retire, enjoy it. Don’t postpone enjoyment, that is the meaning of the word ”retire.” Enjoy here and now.



That is Tao. Never go to the extreme, the work is always done within the limits. Remain in the limits, enclosed in the limits. That is the discipline, the discipline of a sannyasin — always remaining in the middle, always remaining within limits, always remaining satisfied, not hankering after more and more and more.

Drop the horizontal line; move into the vertical. Retire. And you will be fulfilled; you will know the greatest fulfilment that life can give you. That is a deep moment of total balance, tranquility. We have called it enlightenment, liberation, moksha, nirvana– or you name it.


इंसाँ की ख़्वाहिशों की कोई इंतिहा नहीं
दो गज़ ज़मीं भी चाहिए दो गज़ कफ़न के बाद……………… कैफ़ी आज़मी

insāñ kī ḳhvāhishoñ kī koī intihā nahīñ
do gaz zamīñ bhī chāhiye do gaz kafan ke baad ……………….KAIFI AZMI

Human desires have no limit
They need two yards of earth even after a shroud.

This song strikes a perfect balance between realizing one’s needs and finding contentment in life. The lyrics bring me a profound sense of calmness every time I listen to them…”Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai Lyrics in Hindi. थोड़ा है थोड़े की ज़रुरत है” — song from Khatta Meetha (1981) written by Gulzar, composed by Rajesh Roshan sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar.

Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai Movie- Khatta Meetha 720p HD Song (