Comparison of Buddhist and Christian Monasticism

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A Comparison of Buddhist and Christian Monasticism By what means does an individual seeking relief from the vicissitudes of everyday life attain salvation? Monasticism is a form of religious practice that provides a distinct method for obtaining the absolute by seeking spiritual perfection within a religion either through union with God or through the attainment of Nirvana. Monasticism is a way of life in which persons decides to leave their worldly lives behind to join a community and take religious vows, such as celibacy, poverty and obedience to an order so that they may be completely focused on the goal of salvation. Monastery is derived from the greek words monazein (to live alone) and monos (alone). (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/monastery)There are many different forms of monasticism belonging to a variety of religions. By providing a comparative view of the origins and history of Christian monasticism as practiced by the ‘Desert Fathers’ and Theravada Buddhist monasticism we hope to shed light on the argument that although they are very different in their religious dogma, they share a similar monastic culture and history. St. Antony of Egypt is often credited with being the first Christian monastic, although, there have been instances of earlier Christian monasticism since the time of Christ. Jesus himself was a model for early monasticism as were the celibate women at the time who devoted themselves to lives of prayer and service to the church (CTTp174). Many counsels were given in the Gospels that could be interpreted as a call to a monastic way of life, “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Mt.19:21). In the mid third century, many Christians began to move out to deserted places to live ascetic lives as hermits and dedicate their lives to Christ, partly

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