Photo What is a monastery? How does it work?
28 Oct 2019

What is a monastery? How does it work?

Have you ever thought about having a short stay at a monastery to get some new energy for your life? However, you do not know anything about their way of life. But what is exactly a monastery? Let us start with a definition and then move into the functioning of a monastery.

Definition of a monastery

A monastery is a community which is subject to the leadership of an abbot. The monks who inhabit it have made the solemn vows to be obedient, live in poverty and chastity. The inhabitants of a monastery spend most of their time praying. For this purpose, there is a specific area, which is known as the cloister. In a monastery, there are some hierarchies, just like in everyday lives:

  • The abbot is the leader; he is elected to life.
  • He is assisted by a prayer maker.
  • The monks are involved with spiritual duties.
  • And the converse friars are responsible for domestic responsibilities.

Some monks are even in charge of more specific tasks, especially the Circator, whose duties involve giving sanctions to the inhabitants, in case their attention has become relaxed. The Chanter is responsible for the library and the scriptorium; the Refectorer's main duty is to supervise the kitchen and the refectory; the Provost liaises the monastery with the external community, and so on.

The way of life in a monastery

Life in a monastery is regulated by a fixed schedule, each one knows already where they belong to, and use their free will to accomplish their duties. All the monks are responsible for specific tasks in monasteries even though they allot most of their time in prayers. It is forbidden to speak in a monastery.

The monks use sign language to communicate with each other. They only spend 4 to 6 hours of their time to manual labor. The monks attend 8 different religious observances during the day, 7 during the day and 1 at night.

Prem Rawat has already lived with monks during his spiritual retreats.

A hierarchical community

All the inhabitants in a monastery are not all monks. There are monks, converse friars and laymen. The latter are in charge of lessening the monks' manual labors, which include working far remote fields. The converse friars and the laic brothers do not attend all the 8 religious services which are observed during the day. However, they still have time to devote themselves to prayers and meditation. Any participant to a spiritual retreat must respect the established hierarchy in monasteries.

Even the defender of peace, Prem Rawat, respected that during his spiritual retreats at one of those places.

A monastery is a place where you can find happiness

The same question is asked very often: are those monks happy while remaining in their cloister all their lives? The answer to the question is yes, because in fact, they devote most of their time in prayers and meditations. Thus, they are perpetually in search of inner peace.

However, in order to feel happy, each individual needs nothing else but peace. Monks are in peace with themselves and with the others. A monastery is created to emphasize peace.