How to Live Like a Monk in Western Society

Live Like a Monk in Western Society
••• Rakesh Vaghela, Steve Woods, Gordana Matijasic

Traffic jams, pollution, crime and rampant consumerism can make the idea of living like a monk appealing. While very few people actually go so far as to embrace the monastic lifestyle, there a few hardy souls who enjoy living a more basic lifestyle than Western civilization traditionally offers. Living like a monk is not as difficult as you may think, and can be accomplished whether you live in a city, suburbs or a rural area.

    Dress the part. Choose simple, inexpensive clothes that do not call attention to yourself. If you would like to dress like a traditional monk, ask your local fabric store manager if she can special order hair cloth for you and sew your own robe. Be sure to pick up needles and thread as you’ll want to sew the robe by hand. You can also find robes for sale on the Internet, although they are pricey, and buying one would defeat the purpose of living a basic life (see Resources below).

    Move to the country and live off the land. Choose a simple home that only contains enough space for you. Plant a garden and raise chickens. Some monks prefer a vegetarian lifestyle. Become as self-sufficient as you can, relying on the modern world as little as possible.

    Make drastic changes if you can’t move to the country. Don’t use your home’s electric service, which means no TV, Internet or hot water. Without electricity to power lights, you’ll go to bed when the sun goes down and wake up when it rises, just as people did centuries ago.

    Give up your worldly goods. You will no longer need that expensive watch, TV, designer clothing, car, 400 thread count sheets or Blackberry. Keep only the items you absolutely need.

    Shave your head. By shaving your head and wearing simple clothes or a robe, you are telling society that you have given up having a unique identity.

    Get rid of your bed and trade it in for a simple cot or sleeping pad. Make nothing in your life too easy or comfortable.

    Set up a special spot in your home for meditating and praying. Spend hours in solitary reflection of life and its meaning.

    Stop using modern transportation. If you live in the country, buy a donkey or a mule. Make sure that the animal you choose is strong enough to pull a small cart. You’ll need a cart to carry the supplies that you cannot grow or make on your own. If you live in a suburban or urban area, use a bicycle for transportation.

    Give up romance. Monks do not date, preferring to focus their energies on prayer or meditation instead.


    • Buy or borrow a book on farming techniques if you've never gardened or farmed before.


    • Don’t totally forgo all modern conveniences. If you become sick, try home remedies first, but don’t hesitate to see a doctor if your remedies fail.

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