Larry Jordan

Everyone is related, and everything is connected.

The Forest Dwellers

Aug 05, 2022 by Larry Jordan, in Eastern Religions

There are four stages of life in Hinduism:

“Brahmacharya” or the Student Stage, usually between 12 and 24 years of age
“Grihastha” or the Householder Stage, usually between 24 and 48 years of age
“Vanaprastha” or the Forest Dweller Stage, usually between 48 and 72 years of age
“Sannyasa” or the Renunciate Stage, usually beyond 72 years of age

The Forest Dweller leaves a house for a cottage, renounces material pleasures, retires from professional and social life, and undertakes a life of contemplation and spiritual pursuits. When we sold our house, it was wistful, especially for me. The house had been a port in the storm during a stressful career.

On our last day there, I looked across the valley at the Fort Worth skyline, recalling how much we enjoyed the decks, the pool, and the trees. (At the same time, I also recalled how little we enjoyed maintaining the decks, the pool, and the trees.)

After giving away many of our possessions and much of our furniture, we were able to move from a 4400 square foot house into an 1600 square foot condominium.

The condo is more like our first apartment, where we could see every corner from the center, than like our house on the hill, where we scarcely visited several of the rooms. Still, the condo is comfortable and functional.

We know what we own and where we keep it, and we have neither too much nor too little. We no longer have any extra rooms or “junk drawers” or unnecessary stuff.

The Sannyasa or last stage lives the life of a wandering ascetic, rejecting all possessions, except for a cloak and a begging bowl, and renouncing all worldly responsibilities. Not many of us will reach that stage, particularly in the West, but we can all aspire to live simpler, less stressful lives.