I’ve been thinking about the ancient Indic tradition that talked of the four phases in an individual’s life: Brahmacharya, when one acquired education and skills; grahastha, when as a householder, one raised a family; vanvas when it was time for contemplation, perhaps in the natural environs of a forest, and finally, sanyas, when one practised detachment from all activity in preparation for one’s exit. Each of these phases was of roughly 25 years duration since humans were expected to have a lifespan of a hundred years, all other things being equal.
The above ancient system was also based on the principle that the individual’s purpose was to have progeny and live a decent, dharmic life. Then it was vanvas, followed by sanyas, to a fitting conclusion.
I think in the present connected and global world, an important aspect of good life is to give something back to society. Not only does giving back to society help the less fortunate; it also brings to the giver a tremendous sense of satisfaction and happiness.
Naturally, giving back to society would be based on an individual’s capacity and capability. For that, one should live a happy and joyful life according to the following four phases:
First, absorption: This phase is similar to brahmacharya and may last anywhere till the age of 25 to 30 years, peaking at around 20-25 years. This is when an individual absorbs knowledge, experiences and information -- an important phase because what we become and what we could do later on is largely formed and decided during this phase. I believe that the basic template of one’s personality is formed by the age of 16. Experience of later years simply adds to or subtracts from it. Also, as our brain receptivity is at its peak, we are hungry for the experience and the quality of experience decides what type of individual we will become. Hence the quality of schooling, the kind of peer pressure and the environment play a seminal role in these formative years. Read more....