What Do Buddhist Monks Study?

Buddhist monks are often known as those who have turned their back on the world to explore and find peace.

In this blog post I will discuss some of the things that Buddhist monks study on a daily basis so you can learn more about them.

Buddhist monks are one of the most well-known and respected members of society. They spend their days in contemplation, meditation and prayer.

In the Buddhist tradition, monks are committed to a life of study and contemplation. They devote themselves to learning about the world and how we can best live in it.

From philosophy to medicine, they explore topics that help people find peace and happiness.

What Do Buddhist Monks Study?

For Buddhist monks, learning is a blessing and a source of nourishment for the soul.

Religion and philosophy are the main subjects they study during their lifetimes.

However, as a Buddhist monk, the ultimate aim is to become a true student of the Tripitaka, which consists of the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka.

To practice Buddhism in a practical manner, there’s a need for some theoretical understanding. In the beginning, a Buddhist learner has to learn many important mantras and formulas and understand their ideological meaning.

In this case, Dalai Lama’s “The World of Tibetan Buddhism” is considered to be one of the first Tibetan Buddhist references. Then follows the initiation of the suttas/sutras.

Over the course of about 16 years, the apprentice studies different suttas to the nth degree. These suttas are all part of the main five branches.

These are the five main branches:

1) Abhidharmakosha by Vasubandhu
2) Pramanavarttika by Dharmakirti
3) Abhisamayalamkara by Maitreya Buddha
4) Madhyamaka by Chandrakirti
5) Vinaya (Root Sutra) by Buddha Shakyamuni.

After learning about Suttas for such a long time, it is time to learn about Tantra. In Tantra, things are a little different.

It is an unending learning process, even for senior Buddhist monks who continue to learn through these Tantra practices.

An aspiring disciple must understand that reading a book on the Sutras, Mantras, or Tantras is not enough to fully grasp them; it is also crucial to build a relationship with his guru directly to ensure accuracy.

Video: Buddhist Scriptures Explained by Monks

There are three main branches of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana with each branch being specific to certain regions or countries in Asia.  

Buddhist monks mainly study Buddhist philosophy, meditation and other Buddhist texts. They also engage in a variety of practices like chanting, meditating and reciting scriptures.

They spend their days studying the Buddhist scriptures, which are originally written in Pali. It is an ancient Indian language that closely resembles the language of the Buddha and his disciples.

Do Buddhist Monks Practice Martial Arts or Kung Fu?

Martial arts/kung fu in China and Japan are associated with a branch of Buddhism called Zen Buddhism (Chan Buddhism in Chinese) – Mahayana, Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism do not have direct association with martial arts or kung fu.

Shaolin monks use martial arts/kung-fu to gain spiritual wisdom through physical training as part of their religious life. The training they receive has a defensive bent rather than an aggressive one.

According to history, martial arts were practiced by them originally as a form of self-defense against robbers and invaders.

A Buddhist Monk’s Daily Study Schedule

The life of a Buddhist monk is not an easy one, as they must follow strict guidelines for how they dress, eat, sleep and work. They live in monasteries with other monks and devote themselves to living selfless lives dedicated to helping those around them.

A typical day for a Buddhist monk consists of waking up at 4 am and praying for about two hours.

Then follow walking, bathing, eating breakfast, and studying scripture from 8 am to noon; a short lunch break from 1 pm to 2 pm; then study from 2 pm to 6 pm, followed by a two-hour meditation and prayer session from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Towards the end of the day, the monks retire to their rooms to finish their homework before going to bed.

Buddhist monks keep up these rituals early in life, but take on a progressively more quiet lifestyle as they grow older.

A Buddhist monk studies the teachings of Buddha to achieve enlightenment. The teachings of Buddha are guidelines that can help one achieve nirvana by following them in their day-to-day life.

Buddhist monks will spend many years studying these texts to gain a deep understanding of Buddhism’s principles.

Studying Methods Used by Buddhist Monks

Buddhist monastic education is a carefully scripted process. A Buddhist monk studies either by reading scriptures or by listening to their master explain the scriptures in lectures and sermons.

Buddhism is an insightful religion with teachings that prioritize peace (both at the individual level but also among larger groups).

It’s important to understand that Buddhism does not advocate a single body of knowledge or way of being in the world, but rather (more accurately) a skillful means through which different people can investigate reality and find what works best for them at any given time.

Buddhism is a religion which has many texts and teachings that are studied by the followers of this faith and there are many different topics that can be studied at Buddhist Monasteries. However, there is one topic that is central: the Dharma, which means “teaching” or “law and order”.

The Buddhist goal of life isn’t material wealth or gaining success in the world; it’s achieving release from worldly attachments by making peace with what has been given to us—the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Learning how to confront pain and suffering through mindfulness helps one live happily in this temporary human form.

The study methods largely adopted by monks in particular include recitation, memorization, chanting mantras and prayer. Usually it involves both textual study and meditative practice (through visualization). 

They are also taught how to gauge their own mental states and find ways to cope in day-to-day life. Monks also deepen their understanding through Buddhist art, poetry and scripture from other Eastern philosophies.

Studying is central to a monk’s daily life, and the scriptures are paramount. Such study helps the monk to understand what he should do in order to keep the principles of Buddhism alive for others.

The society expects monks outside of their temples to teach laypeople about Buddhism, and also participate in temple rituals. They often serve as teachers to children and adults alike.

They are taught in early childhood about the virtues of humility, generosity, kindness and tranquility that are related to study as well as other aspects of life.

Monks study how to maintain their own physical and emotional health. They study life’s meaning overall.

Parting Words

As our lives become busier and busier with work, school, relationships etc.- it can be difficult to find time for self-reflection which ultimately leads to happiness.

The study of Buddhist monks is a field of study that is growing in popularity as the world becomes more and more invested in spirituality.

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