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A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma

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What are your thoughts on this? Since having been inspired by Daniels note on the forum/deconstructing yourself podcast that he has retired. I’ve been thinking of writing this post. You see I’m in the position now to consider it myself after having worked/saved /invested for many years. I’ve longed for freedom all my life and the first longing were not for spiritual freedom, but for worldly, not having to work unless I wanted to. Unfortunately, I’m not super smart or an entrepreneur so I had to do it as a steady grind with some hiccups along the way.

Actually, it was this FI(1) idea that brought me to the path. After having lost half of my wealth in the financial crises coupled with dark insights on psychedelics on the inner workings of the world order. I understood that worldly freedom was not enough. But a better aim was for a freedom that can not be taken from you though to outer circumstances. This culminated in me leaving work and taking a break for fulltime spiritual practice and travel. The break however came to an end when I for the moment felt finished with spiritual seeking after a retreat in 2012. The world called me back with the idea of once and for all solving the financial situation. This is kind of done now.  But it will be a simple life, kind of at the student level.

So how much is enough? What kind of FI life do I/you need? Would love to get input on this from other practitioners. I understand that everyone’s situation is different, so all input is welcome.
 
At what FI level would you quit to pursue practice full time?
 
What I can afford:
  • Live like a student or slightly above in the west, students seem to survive alright, even thrive and I lived at this level many months, accumulated together to years,  already. So I know I can do it.
  • Retreats that are dana based this seem to mostly be in the Theravada Tradition and in Asia. Probobly 1 ordinary retreat per year in the west.
  • Travel in the developing world, having spent 1 year in India/Nepal I know I can do this on half on my western budget.
  • Practice on my own with the support of groups like this one, costs nothing right!
  • Practice with the support of dharma books, cost nothing or a small onetime fee.
  • Become a monk and ordain, but I’m not ready for that, I also don’t 100% consider myself Buddhist, more of an overall seeker. (2)
 
What I can’t afford:
  • The new fancy retreat culture. I recently looked at what retreats cost at IMS for example, this cuts out most of western spirituality. I also feel that it is wrong to join retreats on subsidized rate when I actually have money. (3)
  • Live a middle-class life with a family, not aiming for this anyway, at the moment best to add. But time is running out being closer to 40 than 30
  • Travel for long in middle/expensive locations
  • Expensive personal dharma coaches or at least I had to prioritize that before other things
 
So where are you on the scale between the historical Buddha and the IMS practitioner?

(1) FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement is a lifestyle movement whose goal is financial independence and retiring early. The model is particularly popular among millennials 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIRE_movement

(2) Although I must admit I find stories like this inspiring. “37-year old Bhante Jason is an Australian ….. he lives outdoors without possessions except for his robes and begging bowl. Seeing hypocrisy in much of modern Buddhism's approach, Bhante Jason describes his approach to Buddhist practice as 'Classic' and chooses to live as closely as he can to the strict monastic rules of the historical Buddha”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9W4SUepWOQ

(3) Even though that money cannot be spent below a certain threshold as that would be like if an apple farmer who cut down his orchard in the winter for fire wood. See the 4% rule
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/9/19 7:12 PM as a reply to Jyet.
What were those dark insights on psychedelics? 

I would need at least $1200/mo and $50k reserved for a medical emergency. 

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/10/19 12:49 AM as a reply to Jyet.
Jyet - I'm kind of intellectually interested in the questions you raise.  But the more I look into it, the more I find the same answer again and again and again.  And it is not an intellectual answer.  The amount you need for independence is always twice the amount you have now.  It doesn't matter whether you have $100k, $200k, $500k, $1m, $2m, $1 billion. The requirement is always double!

So my advice to you is ...  just go !  Follow your heart, and see what you learn.  But don't think of it is a journey into safety.  It is a journey into discovery.  The two are kind of mutually exclusive.  So take the biggest plunge, but do it with love in your heart and respect and compassion for others.  And be open to what you may learn, and who you may meet.  

Best of luck with whatever decision you choose.  

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/10/19 10:03 AM as a reply to Jyet.
Take this with a grain of salt...

In a perfect world, there would be lots of people working on basic sanity and people in position of power would be basically sane. We would wake up in the morning, eat food that was created without environmental or economic harm, we would travel to work using efficient infrastructure, we would work at jobs that structurally/educationally/biologically maintained society, we would have a work day that would balance mental and physical effort and kept us alert and healthy, we would come home and have interesting things to watch/read as entertainment, and we would have time to meditate before a good night's sleep. On weekends we would connect with people in our community and family an have time to figure out some minor improved way of doing something and over time make things even better.

When I ponder that ideal world, I can see lots of roles for active, participating, intelligent, caring people in order to make it happen. Lots of different opportunities for all types of different skills to make it happen.

The only thing I don't like about FIRE is it seems more like "getting mine and then walking away". And it relies heavily on the financial sector to keep generating interest, which it will do in it's usual ways. I would much rather have all the sane people of the world still working and directing the mechanisms of society. Sane business owners, sane bossess, sane workers who are creating the possiblity of jobs that are sane and not the bizarre pressure cooker jobs that seem "normal". 

Pursuing the dharma is fine, but there really isn't too difficult to pursue it while being part of the working world. I would say that daily meditation, 2 or three 10-14 day retreats a year (two vacations), plus 3 to 6 four day retreats a year (long weekends) for 7 years is much more than enough to get it "signficantly done". And one thing I've _really_ found to be true is that staying "in the world" gave me such clarity and opportunity to really see where I still had reactive patterns/delusions, which directly informed my practice.

So let's say you are 37 now and you keep working for 7 years with the approach above. You will have really practiced hard, continued to make more money, continued to be adding some basic sanity to situations you are in and also getting that "real world" feedback. You will be insured in case you get in an accident. However, there is a chance that you will find yourself tired and less likely to practice, etc. etc. But my experience is that the hardest part about making the work-dharma thing happen is using your calendar to make it happen. Intention or will power isn't enough. You need to schedule your vacation-retreats, schedule your long weekends, block out the time on your daily calendar for sits, and prioritize exercise and sleep (over things like internet/entertainment) so that you stay healthy and recover. ... if you do all of that, then at 44 you'll either be substantially done, or you will have much more clarity on what you need to do and you're still young-ish and have options.

So there you go! That's your free life coaching from some dumb guy on the internet! It's worth what you paid for it. emoticon

p.s. I forgot to mention the obvious: when you awaken, you awaken into the life you have. You "Wake up to your Life". Dharma doesn't all of a sudden make living like a student into a deep rewarding life for ever and ever. You might be really bored AND awake. So this is why I point out that there is a lot of meaningful stuff to do and society benefits from people being actively involved in keeping the world turning.

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/10/19 8:37 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol, reading your post gave me hope about the world. Thankyou!

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/10/19 10:26 AM as a reply to shargrol.
The only thing I don't like about FIRE is it seems more like "getting mine and then walking away". And it relies heavily on the financial sector to keep generating interest, which it will do in it's usual ways. I would much rather have all the sane people of the world still working and directing the mechanisms of society. Sane business owners, sane bossess, sane workers who are creating the possiblity of jobs that are sane and not the bizarre pressure cooker jobs that seem "normal". 

+1

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/11/19 2:16 PM as a reply to Jyet.
I would come at this from a slightly different place. 

Every day, for the rest of your life, you're going to get out of bed and have a day in front of you. What do you want that day to look like?

My answer is: the answer to that question will vary from day to day, month to month, and year to year, in ways that I can't predict (aka one very obvious meaning of "impermanence"). Some days I will wake up and the thought of going to work will fill me with dread. Other days I will wake up and the thought of having an entire day of unstructured time, with nowhere to be and nothing to do, will be similarly dreadful. 

(Now obviously one can learn to work through the dread, see through it, etc.: that's part of practice. But that's not always easy and I, at least, do not always anticipate succeeding.)

Is there something about your current job that is better than you would anticipate from future employment opportunities? (For instance - more money per hour, better hours, better working conditions, etc.) If so, then I would recommend sticking with it until you feel more secure about your finances.

But if not, then I would feel free to quit tomorrow (if you want). Let's say that tomorrow you wake up and feel like your work is holding you back from your best life. So you quit and pursue your primary interest. You live on less ... and you find out what it is really like to live on that less.Maybe you find out that there are some financial hardships, but that the freedom is totally worth it. Or maybe you find out, nope! "Gotta have 25% more money in the bank!" Or even: "Having nothing scheduled 7 days per week is really hard!" So then ... go back to work at that point. You may even be excited to go back and work at least part time.

The other thing to keep in mind is that some types of work can themselves be opportunities to practice. I'm thinking things like janitorial or some retail jobs -- not to mention manual labor and similar things. The simpler the better. Imagine finding a job where they let you do manual labor (say) ... but only on days when you feel like it! Of course, that would likely pay VERY little. And yet it might be the best of both worlds.

For myself, sadly and happily, my current job is amazing and if I give it up there is no way I can get it back. So I need to do some really careful financial planning and all that boring stuff. And there's no way I'm quitting until I'm 99.9% sure I have all the bases covered, for me and my family.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/11/19 6:07 PM as a reply to Kent.
If you happen to have and must support children then things look very different. Children change everything about how you think about your financial situation.

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/12/19 6:39 AM as a reply to Kent.
Thank you everyone for you answers. I'll try to answer you in turn.

Edward:
The psychedelics insight was a vision how whole of society is run from above. Think conspiracy theory….Saw people being controlled like puppets on a string not even understanding how controlled and unfree they where. That gives a taste at least…..Not claiming that this is ultimately true or anything but it had a strong impact on me at the time. When it comes to the money I’m around your number at the moment.

Curious:
It's so easy to get caught in fear, what ifs and imagined security. When it comes down to it the future is unknown. A large part of my path at the moment is facing the existential knot in my solar plexus. There resides shame, fear and the like, perfectly triggered by anxiety about security. 

I’ve talked about my idea of quitting work with a very awake friend of mine. She herself didn’t work for 7 years in order to relax and let her awakening mature. She encouraged me to go for it and then be with all the emotions that inevitably will arise. A perfect practice opportunity, maybe the market will crash soon also like it did for her. She in hindsight thought it was brilliant..

My heart dances reading this.
“So my advice to you is ...  just go !  Follow your heart, and see what you learn.  But don't think of it is a journey into safety.  It is a journey into discovery.  The two are kind of mutually exclusive.  So take the biggest plunge, but do it with love in your heart and respect and compassion for others.  And be open to what you may learn, and who you may meet.  “

Shargrol:

Thank you for your free life coaching ;)

Yes I know the dharma can be followed while living a normal working life. But I also believe that it can be immensely beneficial to focus exclusively on one thing. At least with my make up.  There is also an energy that comes into my systems in the afternoons that makes it hard to think, easy to space out. I believe this energy needs time to run its course and not be forced back with mental activity and lots of coffee. Like I do when I work. I do agree however that the logical thing is to continue for some years to be more “set” that is what the minds tells me. My heart says something else however. Was in Tiruvannamalai this winter for the third time. There the Being is so close, what do we need, really? Just want to immerse myself in that Beingness full time. 
 
I’ve also been off before, so I know the benefits. I also know the setbacks. It’s easy to just let the days pass by one after another. Some kind of structure is defiantly beneficial. I respect your thoughts on the financial system but doesn’t feel bad personally for using it. The way I see it we are all part of the system and are using it whether we like it or not. Everyone with a pension or hoping to get one isn’t any better than me investing my hard earned money. I also worked since my 20s except for the brake of 1,5years.

Kent:

In a way my current job is perfect. With good pay and lots of free time. But when I do work it is for weeks in a row, sleeping at the job site with12h shifts. A lot of this time is standby but it is taxing anyway. Especially when I work night. I could not see myself getting a job like this again when I quit. The stress level is at times really intense with the whole place waiting for you to be ready so the operation can continue. The simple manual labour kind sounds alright if I have to do something again after this. So my mind truly could come to rest.

Chris:
I don’t have children and don’t plan to get any at the moment. If that changes I guess I just have to take it from there……

So what will I do? Is the heart or head to be followed? To be continued…

RE: A simple FI life in the pursuit of dharma
Answer
3/13/19 11:07 AM as a reply to Jyet.
Just for the record......

Got the confirmation that I’m going home from my recent work trip tomorrow. 

With several free weeks ahead of me I suddenly think that my job is perfect.

Every work trip is a bit like a retreat. Not exactly following the Progress of Insight though.

The first days are fear, disgust as I arrive and settle in, .....Then some kind of surrender with focus on the work at hand. Then ending with intense joy as I know when I can go back home. There is certainly possibility for practice with this setup. Although I always loose momentum in my sitting practice as I just can't log the amount of time I do back home. 

Then the anxiety as the duty call is closing in once again.

An ongoing continues flowing dance.....