Brother Aaron was our liaison to Saint John’s Abbey at the Collegeville Institute last fall.

He always came to our scholars’ seminars with a resource to offer.

When he came to my seminar on jubilación, he brought with him a handout on the four ashramas of life from the Hindu tradition.

Brothers Aaron and Wilfred

Brothers Aaron and Wilfred

Here is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar expounding briefly on what these are:

An Ashrama (āśrama) in Hinduism is one of four age-based life stages discussed in ancient and medieval era Indian texts.

The four ashramas are: Brahmacharya (student),

Grihastha (householder),

Vanaprastha (retired) and

Sannyasa (renunciation).

The Ashramas system is one facet of the Dharma concept in Hinduism.

Or, if you prefer a little more context, here’s another short essay.

Two things strike me about these four stages, based approximately on 25 years in each stage:

That the turn from worldly concerns about providing for the household to more spiritual matters in the third ashrama takes place at about the 50-year point in life. That’s the jubilee year in the Bible and is the basis of the concept of jubilación.

That the last stage, approximately age 75 to 100, the Sannyasa ashrama, calls every person to spiritual detachment from worldly matters, even from the family and group to work on behalf of the whole human race or universe. Of course, the image that sprang to my mind was of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi wikipedia image in the public domain.

Mahatma Gandhi wikipedia image in the public domain.

The word I selected for my theme for the year 2017 is this one:


The simplest definition of this word is “truth force.”

Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. after him, believed that one could love and resist evil at the same time.

My ancestors, the Anabaptists, believed something similar.

They based their belief on the life and teachings of Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount.

I want to delve into the study of nonviolent resistance in the weeks and months ahead.

Are these four stages from the Hindu Vedas familiar to you? Do they fit your life? Have you ever met someone who personified “satyagraha”?

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