Part 7: Joy or How the heck to really enjoy this Journey to Financial Freedom and Nirvana?

7.2 Living a dharma-centered life, changing gears light-heartedly

After the pull of artha and kama diminishes, ‘dharma’ or if you like self-actualization becomes the motivating force in your life. But the life-style suggested is that of a hermit. So, is the best part of life over? If not, then what does it mean to live like a hermit and celebrate, look forward to it? What is required to achieve this? Have you included this in you planning? 
Living in India makes it impossible to pretend that life is what your 5 senses and the external frame of reference tells you. That’s because very early in life you learn about a great epic the Mahabharat and within it the Bhagwad Gita. If not this, then very early you will either overhear or someone will tell you it’s all either Maya or Bhagwan ki leela-divine play. 
We know that long before us, Arjuna the greatest warrior in the Mahabharata had an existential crisis at the start of the great war in Kurukshetra. Krishna had to reveal the Bhagwad Gita to help him get over it, understand his dharma and fight, even if it meant killing his near and dear ones, his relatives, his guru. We know that Buddha was a prince who also had an existential crisis and gave up everything and became an ascetic, lived in the forest for years and was enlightened- went beyond the cycle of pain and suffering to achieved Nirvana. 
When I was a kid my reaction to this was that the Buddha was a prince who had thoroughly enjoyed his life and got over his artha and kama driven nature, so it’s understandable that he went in search of the true meaning of life and found enlightenment. Will ordinary people like me reach such a situation? 
The answer 40-50 years later is that many people today enjoy a lifestyle better than the kings of the past thanks to modern technology, affordable goods of all kinds, endless entertainment, travel, you name it, we can generally afford all this. So, my question today is, “Are there many more people who are no longer motivated by artha and kama and searching for their dharma to lend meaning and motivation in their life”? 
Frankly, I don’t know. My bet is that large numbers will be searching for purpose, something worthwhile, meaningful and deeply satisfying. But can we do this with fun and joy and not succumb to the narrative that this has to be done seriously. After all the biggest benefit of investing the way you have seen in this book, is to rid yourself of any worries of how you will fund your goals despite the ups and downs in the market. Now, nothing should come in your way to live your life fully. But what does this really mean? 
We are told that in life we progress through four stages or ‘ashramas’ of equal duration and each has a different priority. They are 
  1. Bramhacharya or Student
  2. Grihastha or Householder
  3. Vanaprastha or Forest-dweller, Hermit
  4. Sanyasa or Renunciate
The first two are pretty straightforward and we still go through them. I am sure we all will have much to complain about how things are in these two stages currently. But then, we don’t have much evidence that the complaining was any lesser in the past. So let’s say things in these two stages have perhaps not changed much with time. The external frame of reference seems to be well in place and has adapted pretty well to the changing times to guide people through the first two stages. But what about the next stage? 
We end the first stage around 24 and start the Householder stage for another 24 years. When we are about 48 years old,...........Read More

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