Thursday, 3 August 2017

119. The four stages of life


Pandit Brahm Sankar Misra, M.A.


            185. It appears to be a matter of ordinary observation that the life of animals, specially that of man, is divided into four distinct parts. The first part or stage extends from the time of birth to the attainment of puberty. This period is characterised by vivacity, want of cares and anxiety, and an absence of the feelings of sex. In the absence of extraordinary circumstances to the contrary, this period is also one of innocent pleasure and joy, the smallest trifles contributing to them. During this period, the power of receding into the conditions of trance and hypnotic sleep is ordinarily much greater than in any other period of life. With the advent of puberty, the second part of life commences and runs up to the time when the ebb-tide of life makes its first manifestation. This ebb-tide, like the flow-tide of life which covers the first two periods, is divided into two parts : (a) the period, during which the effects of the strain of ebb are not very appreciable and during which the functions of manhood are in a fairly working condition, (b) the period of old age which is characterized by a distinct shrinkage of the physical frame and by retrogression of other functions. During manhood, aspirations and hopes are like passions of a very strong character, and the vital energy which was gathered to over-flowing makes light of all difficulties and opposition. The elasticity of youth almost immediately restores equilibrium after each reverse, and existence appears to be more or less a condition of sweet inebriation. In the third period of life the effervescence of manhood has subsided and its place has been taken by experience and wisdom. Catholicity and large-heartedness manifest themselves. This is the period during which success is ordinarily achieved in the largest measure, attended by wealth, name and fame. The fourth or the closing part of life is a second childhood, but if the life has been a virtuous one and moderation has been observed, this fourth stage is not void of sweets peculiar to itself. The innocent joys of childhood are supplemented by the mellowed happiness of wisdom and experience. During this last period, the ebb of vital energies is great, and the physical frame is accordingly reduced to a condition of great delicacy. Small matters ordinarily affect age and troubles due to change of seasons are keenly felt. Ailments, too, are not infrequent. From a spiritual point of view, however, this inward flow is specially advantageous inasmuch as it supplies a natural desire to move towards the aperture which leads to death, thus strengthening the spiritual practice which trains the devotee to effect an entrance into that aperture at his will. The description of the four stages of life which we have given above refers to the typical case of a human life, but it can be applied to the life of all entities, subject, of course, to changes produced by extraordinary occurrences or the visitations of Providence.

No comments:

Post a Comment