The Four Stages of Masculine Spirituality

Richard Rohr
Richard Rohr

For the past three years I’ve been taking in as much Richard Rohr as humanly possible.  Rohr is a true seer: one who “sees” rightly through the lens of God’s grace and goodness.  His insights often haunt my imagination for days, and few writers have helped me understand the nature of the soul’s journey more than him.  I subscribe to his daily meditation, and today was a great one for men (and those who love them) to reflect on coming out of Father’s Day weekend.  It’s Rohr’s summation of the four stages of masculine spirituality.

“People in historical India recognized four stages of a man’s life.  The first stage is student, where one is a learner and takes in life.  The second stage is the householder, where he marries, raises children and learns to love and be faithful to his partner. We Westerners for some strange reason consider this second stage to be the whole deal and the end of all life.  People spend the remainder of their life fixing up the house, waiting for their children, and then grandchildren to come home and visit them.


But there are more stages in India, which I even saw in a church window in Bangalore.  The third stage is called the seeker, or “forest dweller.”  This is the man who, after raising a family, takes them beyond their small world to a much bigger picture—just by growing up himself!


Most Americans are not very connected to the rest of the world; we’re not normally connected to anything except next week and practical problem solving.  This, among other things, keeps us from stage four, the wise man. The wise man puts the inner life together with the outer life, the small family together with the big family, his masculine together with his feminine. The sage, or wise man, thinks globally and lives and acts locally, but now inside of that much bigger picture.”


This quote is an adaptation from Richard Rohr’s book Daily Meditations, but if you are interested in reading more about the unique shape of masculine spirituality, I’d recommend reading Quest for the Grail, From Wild Man to Wise Man, Adam’s Return, Men and Women: the journey of spiritual transformation (CD), and How Men Change (CD).  All of these resources can be purchased directly from the Center for Contemplation and Action storefront here.