Friday, August 17, 2012

Keeper Of A Family

Hindus, most of all, perhaps, take into account the "ages" of development. Hinduism, in fact, has long taught that there are four stages of life.

The first stage, the Hindus teach, is the age of childhood, however long it takes to acquire the maturity necessary to begin to function beyond the control of the family.
The second stage is the age of the student. During this preparatory period, students concentrate for years on learning the skill or profession that will enable them to function independently in society in order to give back to the larger world -- for the sake of its own development -- what they have been trained to do.

The third stage of life, the Hindus tell us, is the age of the householder, the keeper of a family, whose concentration on others develops the next generation to carry on the values and ideals of this one.

Finally, Hinduism teaches, a person reaches the age of the sanyasi, the truth-seekers, who give themselves over in this last stage of life to the pursuit of spiritual development. These people -- educated, experienced, responsible -- take these final years to bring perspective to their own lives and wisdom to others. It's the period of reflection. For some, it is the period of monastic reflection. The period when, relieved of the burden of social responsibility, they become the standard-bearers of the soul.

Joan Chittister | "Change in age for new vocations nothing to fear" | National Catholic Reporter