The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies
Monasticism; Total Devotion to Spiritual Living
The Esoteric Teachings of Jesus and the Nazarene Essenes

Monasticism (from Greek: monachos—a solitary person) is the religious practice of renouncing all worldly pursuits in order to fully devote one's life to spiritual living.

Many religions have monastic elements, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Jainism, though the expressions differ considerably. Those pursuing a monastic life are usually called monks or brothers (male), and nuns or sisters (female). Both monks and nuns may also be called monastics.

Monks and nuns are expected to fulfill a variety of roles in their community. First and foremost, they are expected to practice and preserve the doctrine and disciplines which they follow.

The disciplinary regulations for monks and nuns are intended to create a life that is simple and focused, rather than one of deprivation or severe asceticism. Celibacy is of primary importance in monastic discipline, being seen as the preeminent factor in separating the life of a monk from that of all worldly desires.

Monasticism in Christianity is a collection of similar traditions that began to develop early in the history of the Church and was modeled upon Scriptural examples and ideals. The Order of Friars Minor is an example of a major mendicant movement founded by Saint Francis of Assisi.

While most people think of Essene or Christian monks or nuns as "something to do with living in a monastery," from the Church's point of view the definition of a monk/nun is one who lives under a monastic rule and an abbot/abbess. The focus of the particulars of the life does not necessarily entail living in a monastery or performing any specific activity, rather the focus is on an ideal called the religious life, sometimes called the state of perfection.

Christian cenobitic monasticism as it is mainly known in the West started in Egypt. Originally, all Christian monks were hermits, and especially in the Middle East this continued to be very common until the decline of Syrian Christianity in the late Middle Ages.

The need for some form of organized spiritual guidance was later created, and around 300 AD, Saint Anthony started to organize his many followers in what was to become the first Christian monastery. Soon the Egyptian desert abounded with similar institutions.

In the West the rules for monastic communities were set a few generations later by Saint Benedict of Nursia who created the Rule of Saint Benedict at his monastery in Monte Cassino, it would become the most common rule throughout the Middle Ages, spawning many other Religious Orders, and it is still in use today.

The idea is expressed repeatedly that the things of God are to be sought above all other things, as seen for example in the Philokalia, a book of monastic writings, and the practice of asceticism and the relinquishment of all material attachments were regarded by the Christ as necessary and required prerequisites for salvation. We read in Luke 14:33, "He who will not have renounced all that he possesses, cannot be My disciple."

In other words, a monk or nun is a person who has vowed to follow not only the commandments of the Way, but also the counsels (e.g., vows
of poverty, chastity, and humility). The words of Jesus which are the cornerstone for this ideal are "Ye cannot serve both God and mammon. Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the eyes of God."

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