Monks have been known to live pretty most of their days meditating as it offers them a Zen state of mind. Most people would love to attain a higher state of peace like monks, but just don’t know how to become a monk.
Which is why in this article, we will provide you expert guides on how to become a monk.
According to Wikipedia, a monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation.
So, to fully understand the journey involved when you want to become a monk, I sat with a monk. For some hours, we had conversations regarding the pathway to “monkship“. I documented all the ideas and that is what I have represented in this article. Check out the table of content below to access all you will learn.
- Why Become a Monk?
- Devote yourself to religion.
- Becoming a Christian Monk
- Becoming a Buddhist Monk
- Learn Buddhist teachings.
- Find a spiritual guide or mentor.
- Preparing for Monastic Life
- Prepare to support yourself for two to three years.
- Prepare to give up your worldly possessions.
- Realize that your Buddhist community will become your new family.
- Be ready to take a vow of chastity.
- Decide what kind of commitment you want to make.
- Start training at an abbey.
- Participate in an ordination ceremony.
- Follow the instructions of your teacher.
Why Become a Monk?
The main reason people become monks is to serve a higher authority. For Buddhist monks, it is to serve Budha and for catholic Monks, it is to serve God and the nation. To do this, one must restrain his or her desires interests. One must do this, to avoid distractions by worldly attachments and affairs.
Monks would rather give up worldly possessions, for a chance to connect with their inner man. To a Monk, letting go of things that are so important to most people today is very liberating
Who Is A Monk?
A Monk is a person who withdraws from society to concentrate on religious service. Several major religions have monastic practices, the most common being Christian and Buddhist. It takes a life committed to studying, devotion, and years of training. One who intends to become a monk must be willing to give a lot of things up.
Below are steps you must follow in your quest to become a monk:
Devote Yourself To Religion.
Being a monk means living in spiritual, physical, and philosophical devotion to your chosen faith. You begin your path to monkhood by making a deep commitment to your spiritual growth and development. This will involve studying daily, and engaging in prayer sessions several times a day. Strive to embody your faith in every aspect of your life.
Research Different Monastic Orders.
Although the basic routine of becoming a monk might be the same in any order, there are also important differences to consider. Monks in contemplative orders spend most of their time inside the walls of the monastery praying, while those in active orders leave the monastery to serve others. Some active orders assign monks to work far from a monastery.
In communal orders, the monks spend time with their fellow monks, working, praying, and eating together. In eremitic orders, monks do not interact with each other and spend most of each day in their cells.
Commit to A Life Of Celibacy.
Regardless of the religion or order, nearly every monastic community practices celibacy. Begin walking the path of monkhood by taking a personal vow of celibacy. This practice will allow you to gauge if this is a realistic and practical goal for you. Having committed successfully to celibacy will also show the depth of your devotion when you approach a monastery to join.
Practice Communal Living.
Another aspect of most monastic orders is living in close community with others. This means sharing meals, sharing quarters, and in some cases sharing all worldly belonging with others. You can begin testing out this lifestyle by practicing communal living.
Let Go Of Your Worldly Possessions.
Along with living in communion with others, monks across religions give up their ownership of material possessions. In some cases, monks donate everything they own to the church or temple. You can get a taste of this life and move closer to monkhood by giving away some of what you own now and start living a simpler life.
As a one who wishes to become a monk, its expected that you have not being in a committed relationship for at least five years. It is so because the monastery wouldn’t want to absolve you, and have issues draw you back. However, the Monastery do not encourage divorce.
A person with children may not accepted as a monk or nun. This is because children are strong ties and would be difficult to abandon.
There are no age limit for for monks. However it is in the discretion of temples and Abbeys to make the final decision with regards to one’s age.
Becoming a Christian Monk
Visit A Monastery.
Visiting a monastery is one of the first steps you must take to become a monk. Monasteries are open to visits from potential devotees. Some will allow you to stay for a few days at a time. During these visits, you will learn about the daily routine at the monastery, as well as what is expected of monks. This is to allow you have a feel of the life of a monk and determine if it suits you.
Become A Novice.
After you have visited a monastery and decided that you’d like to devote yourself to this life, you can become a novice, and move into the monastery.
This practice sometimes called an “observership,” is your first step towards becoming a Christian monk. As a novice, you will be exposed to every aspect of the monkhood.
Also as part of this practice, the monks will observe you to decide if your personality is suitable for monastic life.
Depending on the order, there may be more than one level of novice hood. This can take up to one year. While still a novice, it is advised you do not dispose of everything you own, like you house(s), car(s), this is because some people after experiencing what it feels like to be a monk, decides not to go on.
Become A Postulate.
After you have passed your novice-hood, you may be asked to become a postulate, or intended monk. At this stage, you may be given more duties at the monastery. This part of the training provides a deeper experience by which you will decide, if this vocation is right for you, also to prove yourself to the monks.
Take Temporary Vows.
As a postulate, you will be asked to take “temporary vows,” committing you to the lifestyle and beliefs of monastic life, for as long as you remain within the monastery. These vows will vary depending on the specific order, however they will almost certainly involve a deep devotion to God, a celibate disposition, and the rejection of material belongings.
Make Your Final Commitment To Monastic Life.
After your time as a postulate, you will eventually be invited to join the monastery for good. You will be ordained as a Christian monk, and you will take permanent monastic vows.
Becoming A Buddhist Monk
Buddhism is a religion over 2,000 years old. It offers a method of overcoming the suffering that is inherent in being. Buddhist monks are those who take it upon themselves to live a life entirely devoted to this goal.
It doesn’t take a whole lot to become a monk. You will need to have a basic understanding of Buddhism (which, if you intend to ordain, you will likely have). Otherwise, a sincere intent to practice the Buddhist teachings is all you need.
Learn Buddhist Teachings.
Before you can approach a teacher with the intention of becoming a monk, you must be quite learned in the Buddhist tradition, well read in Buddhist teachings, and well versed in Buddhist thought. Begin your journey to monkhood by devoting yourself to the study of Buddhism.
Join a temple, or sangha, that practices Buddhism. The Buddhist religion is worldwide and temples exist in almost every country. Practicing Buddhism as a layperson will give you valuable insight into what it’s like to be part of a Buddhist community, which is central to becoming a monk. You’ll want to become a regular part of the community for months, or even years, before you take the next step to become a monk.
Find A Spiritual Guide Or Mentor.
Learning from a mentor is a very important step in becoming a monk. One-on-one instruction allows you to delve deeper into Buddhist teachings and gain a complete understanding of what will be expected of you as a monk. Begin working with someone who can teach you everything you need to know. To find a mentor, ask people in your Buddhist community for recommendations.
Often, a temple will invite Buddhist leaders to come and speak to the group, and this gives you a chance to make contact with potential mentors.
Preparing For Monastic Life
Spend time meditating. Becoming a Buddhist monk requires daily meditation and a conscious effort to change how the mind works. When you live in an abbey, much of your day will be spent in meditation.
To this effect, you are advised to start meditating for five minutes few times a day, and when you have gotten comfortable, increase the time. This will help you master the act of meditation, which pretty much what you’d be doing as a monk.
Prepare To Support Yourself For Two To Three Years.
Becoming a Buddhist monk requires you forfeit whatever regular job you have. So you are advised to make plans to support yourself during the first few years.
Monk practice the Venaya, a code of conduct which do not allow them work daily jobs. While some temple may provide for you from what they earn rendering services to the public, some may not. It is for this reason, that you are expected to have enough to support yourself.
Prepare To Give Up Your Worldly Possessions.
Monks live as mendicants, meaning they possess only what is required for a very simple quality of life, nothing more. You’ll be provided with clothing, sundries, and other items you need to stay comfortable from day to day. However, electronic devices, expensive clothes or shoes, and anything that could be considered a luxury item is not allowed. Monks are not allowed to possess items that could inspire emotions like greed, envy or possessiveness.
Realize That Your Buddhist Community Will Become Your New Family.
Once you join a monastery, your life will be devoted to your Buddhist community. Your days will be spent in service of others, and your focus will be on those who need your help. You will have little contact with your family, and will be encouraged to think of your Buddhist community as your new family. Before pursuing ordination, you may want to discuss this with your family and let them know what is to come.
Some monasteries don’t accept candidates who are married or have other strong relationship ties. Single people are more able to devote themselves to the teachings of Buddhism, since they don’t have outside forces pulling their attention away.
Be Ready To Take A Vow Of Chastity.
Monks do not engage in sexual behavior of any kind. This is why some temples do not allow their nuns interact with the male monks, unless its related to everyday business in the temple.
It is wise to practice chastity before becoming ordained so that you can find out whether you’re suited to a chaste life. The idea is that the energy you’d normally put into sex is directed to matters greater than the self.
Decide What Kind Of Commitment You Want To Make.
In some traditions, ordination is meant to be a lifelong commitment. However, there are other traditions in which it’s perfectly fine to pursue ordination for a limited number of months or years. In Tibet, for example, many men complete two or three-month ordinations to develop their spiritual identities before eventually getting married or pursuing careers.
Make sure the monastery you’re interested in joining offers the level of commitment you want. If you’re not sure, it’s possible to do a two or three-month ordination, then pursue a longer-term ordination later.
Start Training At An Abbey.
If you’re convinced that you want to become a monk, you’ll be ordained at a specific abbey. It will be necessary to meet the requirements outlined by the abbey in order to be ordained there. In some cases an offer to become ordained must be extended by an elder who has decided you’re a good candidate to become a monk.
Participate In An Ordination Ceremony.
The ceremony will mark your decision to become a Buddhist, and can only be performed by an ordained monk. During this ceremony, the monk will transmit to you the three Jewels and the five Precepts. You will also receive your Buddhist name. If you’re following Shin Buddhism, you’ll have an affirmation ceremony, rather than an ordination ceremony. The affirmation ceremony serves the same purpose as ordination.
Follow The Instructions Of Your Teacher.
If you partook in an ordination ceremony, your teacher will usually be the ordained monk who led the ceremony. You will receive instructions specific to the monastery you are joining.
Take The Bodhisattva Vows.
A Bodhisattva is a person who devotes his or her life to the Buddhist way. The vows focus on doing compassionate deeds, striving to benefit every human being and seeking enlightenment. The vows serve as a way for you to embody your highest aspirations. They commit you to a life of selfless service, and you will recite them on a regular basis.
Do Monks Get Paid?
Not necessarily. Monk do not believe in most conventional ways of life. However monks can accept gifts in form of foo items for services rendered.
Do We Have Monks In America?
Yes there are monks in USA. Both catholic and Buddhist monks.
I’d Love To Learn How To Meditate, How Do I Do That?
There are lots of tutorials online that can help you learn. You can also, join a meditation class.
Who Can I Talk To, To Become A Catholic monk?
Contact your local monastery to know more about becoming a monk. If you are not sure where you have a monastery, contact your diocese.
Must I Be A Catholic To Become a Catholic Monk?
Yes you have to be . if you are not, contact the priest in your parish, to know steps to take.
What Do Monks Have To Give Up?
Material good and all worldly possessions.
Do Monks Have Pets?
Yes some monks do. However you would have to talk your abbot first.
Do You Accept Divorcees As Monks?
Yes you can. You will need to however, get a certificate of annulment from the previous marriage, and also complete all obligations you owe to your children if any.
The above steps cover the basic information that anyone who seeks to know how become a monk needs. So, good luck on your journey to a life of meditation and spiritual enlightenment.