THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE AND TIME FOR GOD
March 16, 1999
Paris, France

A saint from the local ISKCON temple narrated the following personal anecdote. When he decided to enter sainthood, his father advised, "You are renouncing too early. You should first get married, raise some children, and then, after the age of 50, you should devote to God." The saint then remarked, "My father is well over 50, and still involved in worldly affairs." Due to the "snowball effect" of worldly activities, one can never find time for God! The solution is to cultivate from a young age the habit of doing prayer, even while physically being a part of worldly activities.

Hindu philosophy (e.g. Bhagavat 7/12-7/14 and 11/17-11/18) describes the four aaashrams (life phases): (1) brahmachaarya - celibate or while receiving education, (2) grahasthi - householder, (3) vaanprasth - literally "going to the forest" or becoming detached and coming to retirement, and (4) sanyaasi - total dedication to God. Scriptures also state that an aspirant who wishes to lead the life of sainthood enters the last stage right after the first.

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