Various Types of Monks
The word monk is a Greek term that means someone or something who is unaccompanied (Gill, n.d.). In the Greek world, monk came to represent a self-controlled individual who lives in solitude from the rest of the world. Although living by themselves, commonly the monks would congregate in the same vicinity.
A monk may be a member of either Buddhist monks or Religious monks. Each kind of monk is unique from one another, and each has a different lifestyle as well as a different way of surviving. Monks may live in forests, in a hermit like state, or in a monastic community. The forest monk lives to the practical exoneration of all activities that are not associated with the discipline’s pursuit of enlightenment. There is also the temple monk who occasionally takes part in holy days and others lay community affairs. In addition, temple monks can be involved in the approval of establishment of new businesses or homes and in the teaching of laymen or laywomen, short-term monks, or novice monks (Liang, n.d.).
Just as there are several diverse kinds of Buddhism, there are also several diverse types of Buddhist monks. Their customs and way of living are unique and different, and every type has its own spiritual meaning. Monks have a certain system that must be pursued and certain regulations that must be observed (Liang, n.d.). Their way of life follows an exact schedule, and each monk’s life revolves around the study of scriptures, meditation, and involving themselves in ceremonies. Their everyday lives involve dealings with their fellow monks and with the community around them. Buddhist monks renounce their individual time to educate others regarding scriptures and meditation.
Buddhist monks prefer to live a life of seclusion from all the pleasures possible all to pay particular attention to enlightenment. Compassion, gentility, and serenity characterize the pronounced Buddhist monks, as they constantly train themselves to detach from delusion, greed, and anger. Meditation is the fundamental component of his monastic isolation.
They endure a peaceful life by not killing a single life form (Liang, n.d.). Without hesitation, Buddhist monks pursue the decrees in their rulebook. The monks will lend a hand without consideration of remuneration but nearly at all times only gifts of appreciation. They accommodate young children by giving them a home and educating them a life of peace. Buddhist monks are very approachable and a joyful group of men, willing to speak with other community members and to dispense their culture.
Buddhist religion encourages meditation as a way to reach “enlightenment” (Vanscoy,n.d.). Thus, Buddhist monks believe that suffering comes from desires and the only way to end suffering is by not desiring unearthly provisions. In view of the fact that a Buddhist monk is not obligated to make lifetime devotion, there are those who wear the robes for only a short moment in time. However, there are those who remain in the monkshood a in their entire lifetime or for several years (Sukhi, n.d.). In Thailand and some other countries, a man is looked upon as incomplete if he has not served, even for a brief period, as a monk (Sukhi, n.d.). As such, nearly every young man will be ordained even for as short as three months. Earning merit for one’s parents is one of the motives for interim ordination. Furthermore, short-term ordination is obtained to prepare a person for life as a householder, layman, and family head.
Westerners are welcomed to the Buddhist monkhood, and a number of them have traveled to Buddhist countries to live in the temple grounds and be ordained. Generally, Buddhists either Asian or Western are laypersons, and for them following the path is morally gratifying, spiritually nourishing, and mentally satisfying. Even if it falls short of the Buddhism’s definitive purpose, it can still lead them to “the good life” (Sukhi, n.d.).
Religious monks include Bernardine, Templar, Jesuit, Augustinian, Carmelite, Vincentian, Dominican, Capuchin, Franciscan, Trappist, Carthusian, Cistercian, and Benedictine. Unlike the Buddhist monks, the progression of becoming a Religious monk is deliberately time-consuming. The engagement of their vows are considered to require a life-long devotion to God, and are not gone through without due consideration. Religious monks in general do not have as their principal function the administration of social services, but in its place, they are concerned with accomplishing union with God.
Religious monks usually devote themselves to charity and took vows of poverty. They have little or no contact with outside world, since the purpose of their existence is to have union with God. Religious monks leave their beard and hair uncut as a representation of the vows they have taken. Most religious monks are not ordained, for the reason that generally a particular community will only present sufficient candidates for ordination to the bishop as the liturgical needs of the community necessitate.
A Benedictine monk is a Religious monk that follows the rule which St. Benedict wrote in the early 6th century (The Benedictine Monks, n.d.). The Benedictine monks are congregated in a community in search of living the Gospel in a fundamental manner and they desire nothing from God. The monks are dedicated to the brotherhood by a pledge of dependability in unblemished love, and guided through the path of conversion with the assistance of a superior to whom they guarantee submission. Seeking to be persistently conscientious to God’s presence, the monks live in an environment of silence, and perform their best to create a harmonious stability between work and prayer (The Benedictine Monks, n.d.). Benedictine monastery is considered as a school for the service of the Lord. For the Benedictine monks, “to labor is to pray,” thus becoming their preferred and regularly used maxim (The Middle Ages Website, n.d.).
Benedictine Monks have three vows, the vow of obedience, the vow of chastity, and the vow of poverty (The Middle Ages Website, n.d.). The three vows were the foundation of the decree of St. Benedict as well as the existence of the Benedictine monks. Benedictine monks acknowledge a sharp line between the outside world and that of their monastic life. Consequently, as much as possible every Benedictine monastery forms a self-supporting and independent community in order for their monks to avert from going beyond the limits of everything.
In a retiring monastery in northern Wyoming below its Rocky Mountains, the Carmelite monks seek to propagate the fascination of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As religious monks, Carmelite monks live the Marian life as prescribed by their ancient Carmelite rule and their earliest monastic faithfulness (Carmelite Monks, n.d.). Carmelite monks endure a liturgical, reverent, and complete life, and the Divine Office and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are being recited by them in Latin through Gregorian chant. Aspiring to be converted into great saints, this community of sternly secluded thoughtful men has a passionate yearning to live the entirety of the chrism and customs acknowledged by St. John, namely: two hours a day of contemplative prayer, serious monastic enclosure, manual labor, and spiritual and study reading (Carmelite Monks, n.d.). With a missionary eagerness for souls and a very strong love to God, the Carmelite monks reproduce their lives in the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for the entire world in addition to the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
An Augustinian monk is another group of religious monks that observe familiar religious life. Their established canons follow a life of obedience, poverty, and celibacy without retreating from the world. Officially identified as Hermits of St. Augustine, they now exist in three self-governing divisions, namely the Calced Augustinian Hermits, the less numerous but more serious Discalced Augustinian Hermits, and the Recollects of St. Augustine (The Free Dictionary, 2008). Like any other religious monks, Augustine monks also observe a common rule, under vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty.
In sum, monk is a member of a male religious order living in hermitage or monastery observing a common rule, under vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. Monks are members of a brotherhood and are devoted to a discipline prescribed by his order. A pronounced monk is believed to be a man of extraordinary virtue and character. They are underprivileged, uncorrupted, and has a small number of possessions, and dependent almost absolutely on the donations of the lay community. Taken as a whole, monks have detached themselves from career, family, pursuit of and retention of money, and from all worldly affairs.
A Religious monk is one who has withdrawn from the world for religious reasons. To become a Religious monk, one must first become a postulant, during which period a hopeful lives at the monastery to consider if he is called to become a monk. Therefore, to become a Religious monk, one must deliberately endure an extensive phase, as the engagement of their vows is considered to require a life-long devotion to God. Religious monks are only concerned with accomplishing union with God. Buddhist monk, on the other hand, is one who is a member of a monastic order. All men who have dedicated their life to Buddha share one thing in common as they are all in the pursuit of enlightenment through meditation. A man is looked upon as incomplete if he has not served, even for a brief period, as a Buddhist monk. Consequently, nearly every young man must therefore be ordained even for as short period of time.
Carmelite Monks. (n.d.). Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.carmelitemonks.org/
Gill, N., S. (n.d.). Monk. About.com. Retrieved November 6, 2008, from http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/monasticism/g/monk.htm
Liang, K. (n.d.). Buddhist Monks. Charlotte County Day School. Retrieved November 6, 2008, from http://www.ccds.charlotte.nc.us/History/Asia/05/liang/index.html
Sukhi. (n.d.). The Buddhist Monk. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.sukhi.com/the%20monk.htm
The Benedictine Monks. (n.d.). The Benedictine Monks. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.benedictinemonks.co.uk/index.asp
The Free Dictionary. (2008). Augustinians. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Augustinian+monk
The Middle Ages Website. (n.d.). Benedictine Monks. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/benedictine-monks.htm
The Pendulum. (n.d.). Buddhist monks promote religious tolerance as they share their culture to Elon. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.elon.edu/e-web/pendulum/Issues/2005/10_13/features/tolerance.xhtml