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What Is a Monk?

Monks are men in the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Taoist religions and traditions who choose to dedicate their life to religious service and contemplation. Other religions also have monks.

A monk generally lives in a monastery with other monks. To become a monk, a man must apply to a monastery which will interview him and then accept him on a trial basis as a novice. Before the trial, the applying monk must show a genuine commitment to a religious life and have no debts or obligations towards others. The monastery cannot be use as a hiding place. When a certain period passes and both the applying monk and the monastery are satisfied, he will take vows and be accepted as a full monk.

The different monk communities and monasteries determine what kind of a monk one becomes. Some monasteries are active in their area, the provide services to those outside their grounds from teaching, medical help, to gardening. Other monks stay within the monastery only carrying out religious pursuits and tasks such as food and clothes production for their own use. They are called anchorites as they cut themselves off from society, and cloister themselves for contemplation to pursue an ascetic life. Some monks take a vow of silence to increase their ascetic focus.

The basic vows that most monks take in whichever religion are related to poverty, obedience, work, community service and chastity. Being a monk is a permanent choice in life, so before taking the vows, the applying monk is allowed to leave the monastery and decide if they really want to be a monk.

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