From the Master of Kadosh (September, 2009)

posted May 16, 2015, 6:13 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 16, 2015, 6:13 PM ]


Last month, I was feeling really happy. Then I attended a seminar at work sponsored by the investment firm that manages our 401k plan. It got me thinking about retirement and all of the money I used to have saved toward that goal... until the recent economic upheavals. Compared to many of the folks I know, I have nothing to complain about. 
How about retirement? They say that Social Security will be out of money by the time I retire, so maybe I shouldn't count on that.  Companies don't pay pensions any more. You have to put aside your own money and sometimes the company matches a part of it. You bear the market risk. If your investments lose value, you lose some of your nest egg. Of course, you could also pick a good investment and make a windfall. Then we would congratulate ourselves on our investment acumen.
Right now, things look bleak. When I retire, my standard of living could drop significantly. Maybe I will be like Diogenes of Sinope (say "SIN oh pee") and live in a big tub.
Diogenes was born in the town of Sinope, which today is called Sinop, Turkey, on the Black Sea. He lived in Athens and later in Corinth.  Diogenes was a philosopher of the Cynic school. That means he pursued the Cynic ideal of self-sufficiency and a natural life not dependent upon the luxuries of civilization. He saw society as corrupt and true virtue was only expressed through action. 
According to legend, Diogenes was inspired to his mission against society's customs and values by a message from the Oracle at Delphi. He used to do unusual things, such as walking though town during the day carrying a lamp, "looking for an honest man" but finding only rascals and scoundrels. 
He was a student of Antisthenes, who in turn had been a student of Socrates. That's better than having a PhD from Yale or Oxford today.  Diogenes was supposedly a prolific writer but we have none of his books. He was a popular speaker and preached the doctrine of virtuous self-control. 
Diogenes lived at the same time as Alexander the Great, who was the most powerful man in the western world. During the Isthmian Games, Alexander came to see Diogenes, and out of respect offered him a favor. Diogenes replied, "Yes. Stand out of my sunlight."
Some people who knew him said Diogenes exhibited dog-like behavior. He probably took that as a compliment. In his view, human beings live artificially and hypocritically. Dogs, on the other hand, are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe. Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth.
My dog always gives a happy bark to welcome me when I come home. Or when it's time for a walk or time for dinner. My dog wouldn't care if I lived in a tub. Maybe old Diogenes was onto something. 

Daniel Doornbos
Master of Kadosh