Monks live here on the planet earth with all of us. However, apart from this knowledge, you may wonder where you can always find a monk. That is to say, where monks take as home. This may arise due to the ascetic lifestyle of monks. As a result, it may be difficult to identify a monk in the community. Especially, this is common among westerners who believe monks can only be found in monasteries.

Truly, in Buddhism, monks live in monasteries (also called “Abbeys”). This is a place where the order of monks lives together to serve their purpose. But, some monks do not actually live in the monastery. Instead, they live in ordinary society. And, others live in natural environments which may be mountains or caves.

Therefore, where monks lives depend on various factors. For example, the society you live in, the tradition practiced by the monks, and the types of monks. As a result, you should not be surprised when you notice that your neighbor is actually a monk.

In the course of this article, we are going to see:

  • Brief History Of How The Buddhist Monks Lived
  • The Types Of Buddhist Monks And Where They Live
  • Where Monks Live Based On Location Of Practice

Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) himself founded the order of Buddhist monks. And, as well as that of the nuns. Their goal was to teach the lay Buddhist community the ways of the Dharma. In return, the lay community donates to the monks. The donations come in the form of food, clothes, and other basic items.

Brief History Of How The Buddhist Monks Lived

In early Buddhism, the monks and nuns were responsible for the spread of the teachings. As a result, they were able to preserve the teachings of the Buddha to date. Thus, the order of monks is very important in the practice of Buddhism.

Then, Buddhist monks wander around without any permanent place. They did this most often begging for alms. Sometimes, a group of monks usually friends, move about together. And, they lived in the outskirts of their local communities. Most of all, they practice meditation in the surrounding forest areas.

There are beliefs that during the time of the Buddha, the monks stayed in retreats during rainy days. These are quiet places that offer security. Moreover, these retreats come as donations from wealthy citizens.

This practice gave rise to the two ways to set up the living areas of the monks. These include the Avasa and Arama.

The Avasa can also be called a Vihara. It is usually a temporary house for the monks. It consists of cells (parivena). As a result, every monk stays in a cell. And, they all live together in the house.

The Arama is a more permanent house. Moreover, the arrangement gives more comfort than the Avasa. Generally, wealthy citizens donate these places. And, equally, take care of the maintenance. The Arama is usually within orchards or parks.

The Types Of Buddhist Monks And Where They Live

Monks are generally people who took vows to learn and practice the Dharma. Therefore, they devote their time to follow the teachings of the Buddha. And, also teach others that are willing to learn. Hence, anyone who takes such vow is a monk. There is really no demarcation when referring to monks.

However, the ways monks live out their lives may differ. That is to say, there are varying levels in which Buddhist monks operate.

Thus, we have:

Monastic Monks

These are the monks that live in the monastery. As a result, they do not have much to do with the outside world. They live a total life of solitude. Above all, they give up everything for the complete adherence to the Dharma. These monks wear their robes all the time. And, they depend wholly on donations from the lay community.

In fact, these are the monks that come to mind when we talk about monks. This is because monasteries have always been a place for the monks. As a result, Monks live in the monastery. And, you can describe the ones that do as monastic monks.

The Lay Monks

These monks also took the vow to devote to the Dharma. They live a dedicated life just like those living in the monastery. However, these set of monks choose to live in the midst of their community. It is also possible to find some monks in this category married. Although, this is not so common. But can be found especially in western society. As a result, they live in common houses and towns.

The lay monks live amidst this generation filled with desires. So, they mostly try to explain the teachings of the Dharma to the people. These monks may not always appear in saffron robes. They wear their robes mostly on special occasions. Or, when they pay a visit to the monastery for a function. Apart from that, they live as ordinary citizens amongst the people.

Moreover, except they tell you they are monks, chances are you would not know. Except, however, you are familiar with the lifestyle of monks. Above all, these types of monks are rare in traditional Buddhist nations.

The Hermits (Recluse Monks)

Some monks isolate themselves. As a result, they live in places far from the people. These are places found in nature. For example, hermit monks are most likely to live in mountains and caves. These are the rarest type of monks. Therefore, you may not naturally see them. Besides, it is only very few monks that live as hermits.

However, some monks who do not live as hermits sometimes go on hermitage. That is to say, monks who live in the monastery or society isolate themselves at times. They can go to the mountains or caves for a period of time. But, they return at the end of the isolation. Of course, they do not live there.

Hermit monks spend most of their lives in deep meditation. Therefore, the need for a natural and quiet environment.

Where Monks Live Based On Location Of Practice

Buddhism is a practice that is traveling around the world. As a result, we have the traditional Buddhist countries. And, the Western countries where the practice is growing. Therefore, where monks live may vary. Thus:

Traditional Buddhist Countries

These are countries that are predominantly Buddhists. Mostly because Buddhism came to them in early times. As a result, they have fully developed the Buddhist community. Monks that stay within these countries live mostly in the monastery. This is because there are so many monasteries around the countries.

These monks live a communal life together within the monastery. And, as always depends mostly on donations from the lay community. Examples of traditional Buddhist countries include China, Thailand, India, Japan, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. Most of all, these countries have organized Buddhist monastic orders. And, this grew from the beginning of Buddhism. Therefore, this is a basic Buddhist institution for guiding the lay community.

Western Buddhist Community

Buddhism in the western world is not strong yet as that of the traditional Buddhist countries. As a result, there are not many people who practice Buddhism. On the same note, Buddhist monks here are quite a few.

There are not many monasteries for monks to live in. Hence, monks live in Zen Centers. This is a place where groups of practicing Zen Buddhists lives. Therefore, a good number of monks live in these centers. This is most evident in the United States.

On the other hand, some other monks are lay monks. As a result, they live within the community with the people.

To Conclude

There are many places a monk can live. The most important thing is to focus on their path to enlightenment. And, also guide the lay community in this path.

Therefore, as this page explained, a monk may live in private residence, meditation hut, monastic residence, forest, or retreats. Also, at times where a monk stays may depend on the season. For instance, some stay in the forest during the dry season. And, goes to the retreat during the rainy season.

However, it is, Buddhist monks, live a rather quiet life. As a result, requires a quiet and calm environment. Even those that live within the society will sometimes find time to stay in solitude.