One of the basic principles of Buddhism is renouncing desires and wants to end the suffering caused by them. Buddhist monks embrace this belief wholeheartedly, so their lives are all about simplicity. Practicing any religion requires a great amount of dedication and focus, and every monk develops these traits over the course of his or her life by adhering to strict rules of conduct and observing rituals.
An average day of a Buddhist monk starts around 4-5 am (depending on the temple). One of the monks gives a wakeup call by hitting a gong, which is one of the essential elements of every Buddhist temple. The morning starts with prayer and meditation. These traditions differ greatly from temple to temple because there are many branches of Buddhism and each has its own nuances. Some of the monks walk around the towns or villages that surround the temple after observing their morning rituals. They accept food offered to them by local people.
Once all the morning rituals and prayers are concluded, the monks eat breakfast. The foods vary depending on the season, locale, and the traditions of each particular group of monks. Buddhist monks eat twice a day, and some of the practitioners consume food only once daily. Regardless of the type of Buddhism practiced in the temple, the monks there aren’t allowed to eat solid food after midday and until the sunrise of the following day. If they have two meals, the second is a light lunch just before 12 o’clock.
After lunch, the monks start performing their daily duties. Every day they care for the temple’s grounds and tend to gardens. Education in the ways of Buddhism and other important teachings are also a part of the daily rituals. For hundreds of years, monks were considered to be the most well-educated people. Even up to this day, some parents prefer sending their children to receive education in temples instead of schools.
Here’s an interesting chat with a Thai Buddhist monk. This gives you an insight into their lives and outlook on a few important life-topics.
Exercise and Meditation For Monks
Monks exercise their bodies and minds equally, and each temple has its unique style of martial arts, incorporated in the daily routine of the local monks. The elder teach the younger and offer guidance to laymen who can come assist with tending the temple grounds.
Everything the Buddhist monks do, they do for the sake of others and not themselves. When they pray, they pray for the world as a whole. When they study and meditate, they aim to obtain knowledge that can be used to help others. They help each other reach enlightenment and offer their services to laymen who come to the temple or seek their guidance otherwise.
Taking care of others is one of the basic principles of a monk’s life. To always put the others’ needs before oneself is a pillar of the Buddhist system of beliefs as a whole, so the daily rituals of every monk can be changed depending on the situation. Whenever they are needed, they go and perform their duties, trying to help everyone around them.
A monk’s day ends similar to the way it starts, with a prayer and meditation. Buddhist monks meditate for several hours daily to progress on their spiritual path and reach the enlightenment.