Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Monasticism , from the Greek root meaning “alone” (mono) and from the Latin monachus (monk), refers to an institutionalized religious form of life that is characterized by radical solitude and mortification. Although most often associated with great religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism, elements of monasticism are also evident in other traditions. The basis of the phenomenon is captured in a Native American elder's words: “True wisdom is only found far away from people, out in great solitude, and it is not found in play, but only through suffering. Suffering and solitude open the human mind, and therefore [one] must seek wisdom alone.” The worldview of monasticism is the ideals of truth and purity. From this perspective, the ordinary world prevents individuals from reaching their spiritual potential, so that a separation is needed. Most commonly, the elements essential to this quest for spiritual perfection are (a) celibacy ...