Life in a Japanese Buddhist Monastery

Buddhism was first introduced to Japan from mainland Asia in the 6th century CE, and monasteries were built from the 7th century CE. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Buddhist monasteries have been part of the Japanese cultural landscape ever since the 7th century CE, and they remained both powerful and socially important institutions right through the[…]

Monastic Orders of the Middle Ages

Monasteries in the Early Middle Ages already had rudimentary rules and guidelines. Introduction The monastic orders of the Middle Ages developed from the desire to live a spiritual life without the distractions of the world. Men and women who took religious vows were seeking a purity of experience they found lacking as lay people. Their[…]

Ancient Monasticism and the Quest for Silence

Monasticism developed in part because people were seeking the solace of quiet places But finding solitude was a struggle. In our contemporary world, noise pollution has reached dangerous levels. The World Health Organization has argued that “excessive noise” is a serious threat to human health. Studies have shown that excessive exposure to noise not only causes hearing loss but also leads to heart[…]

Advice from Medieval Monks on Avoiding Distraction

They saw the mind as an inherently jumpy thing. Medieval monks had a terrible time concentrating. And concentration was their lifelong work! Their tech was obviously different from ours. But their anxiety about distraction was not. They complained about being overloaded with information, and about how, even once you finally settled on something to read,[…]