Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Buddhism’s Theravāda: Monasticism

  • John ThompsonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9345

Monasticism, living an ascetic life dedicated to spiritual matters, is central to Buddhism and even today many people in Southeast Asia (where Theravāda Buddhism dominates) briefly join a monastic order to get an education. Still, the distinction between monastics (bhikkhus and bhikkhunis) and laypeople (upāsakas and upāsīkas) is important. While by no means equivalent to education in Western academic psychology or undergoing psychotherapy, entering the monastic path entails engaging in a powerful regimen of psychological training not normally available to laypeople. Following scholarly convention, this discussion of Theravāda will use Pali, an Indic language similar to Sanskrit, for all technical terms.

Basic Points Regarding Monasticism

There are many misconceptions surrounding Buddhist monasticism that need to be addressed from the beginning. First, Buddhism is not justfor monastics, and monastics are not technically “higher” than laypeople. Second, Buddhist monastics are not...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Christopher Newport UniversityNewport NewsUSA