50 Inspirational Monk Quotes For A Pious Life

Learn more about asceticism with our monk quotes.

Monks have been around since the earliest human civilizations. 

Learn more about this interesting way of life with the quotes below. 

What is a monk?

A monk is a person who practices forms of religious asceticism and lives a monastic life. 

Asceticism is when a person abstains from life’s pleasures for spiritual purposes.

Monks dedicate their lives to service.

Some monks serve other people; others serve a God. 

Check out these interesting monk facts below:

  • In modern English, monk refers to men while nun refers to women. 
  • Monks exist in almost many traditions, including Buddhist, Jainist, and Christian. 
  • The Christian word monk comes from the Greek word monachos meaning solitary. 

What do monks do?

The above question has many answers. 

Just as there are many different types of people on the planet, there are also different types of monks. 

What monks have in common is devotion. 

Some monks devote all of their energy to serving communities and other people. 

They commit to a life of service to others and associate their spiritual growth with how many they can help. 

This form of service is common in Asia, where spiritual practices such as Jainism and Buddhism are popular. 

In the Western world, many monks identify with various Christian faiths. 

There is a diverse field of Christianity types. 

In these forms, monks make a vow to serve the Christian god. 

Many of these monks live in communities together and practice monasticism together. 

There are many varieties of monks, and each lives in ways that are aligned with their belief systems. 

How do I become a monk?

The answer to the above question depends on what type of monk you want to be.

If you wish to become a Buddhist monk, it is recommended that you study Buddhist teachings. Next, you should find a teacher and develop a meditation practice.

After this, spending time in a monastery is a good idea.

Finally, if you feel compelled, you should take your vows as a monk and remain in the monastery for five years. 

In most Christian traditions, you must visit a monastery if you wish to become a monk.

Next, you can decide if you want to become a novice. 

If you can handle this new life and remain a novice, the next step is to become a postulate. 

After postulation, you take on temporary vows.

Later, you commit to the full vows of monastic life. 

To learn more, check out our monk quotes below. 

Short monk quotes about ideals and holiness

Let’s start with these short and apt quotes bout monks. 

1. “My other ideal is more like the Buddhist monk.” Madonna Ciccone

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2. “My imagination is a monastery, and I am its monk.” — John Keats

3. “I certainly haven’t lived the life of a Buddhist monk.” — Burton Cummings

4. “I was initiated as a Buddhist monk at the age of 19.” —Frederick Lenz

5. “Perhaps the old monks were right when they tried to root love out.” — Olive Schreiner

6. “There are even Buddhists monks who say the Tamils should be eliminated.” — Sulak Sivaraksa

7. “Buddhist monks have known for centuries that meditation can change the mind.” — Richard Davidson

8. “A monk’s extraordinary patience can be a hindrance to desperate decision-making.” — Harsha Bhogle

9. “Peaceful and kind one monk is more valuable than violent and rude ten thousand men!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

10. “You haven’t partied until you’ve partied at dawn in complete silence with Buddhist monks.” — Cameron Diaz

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The top monk quotes from the Dalai Lama

Who better to discuss monkhood than one of the most revered monks on the planet? 

11. “I am a simple Buddhist monk.” Dalai Lama

12. “I’m a Tibetan monk, not a vegetarian.” Dalai Lama

13. “I am simply just one monk. That’s all.” Dalai Lama

14. “I just want to live as a simple Buddhist monk.” —Dalai Lama

15. “I describe myself as a simple Buddhist monk. No more, no less.” — Dalai Lama

16. “Some consider me as a living Buddha; that’s silly. That’s wrong.” — Dalai Lama

17. “Firstly, as a Buddhist monk, I hold that violence is not good.” — Dalai Lama

18. “If I had not been a monk, I would have become an engineer.” — Dalai Lama

19. “If they consider me a simple Buddhist monk, however, that’s probably okay.” — Dalai Lama

20. “If I say, ‘I am a monk,’ or ‘I am a Buddhist, these are, in comparison to my nature as a human being, temporary. To be human is basic.” Dalai Lama

Monk quotes and sayings about life

Check out these interesting quotes about the lives of monks. 

21. “Some Thai Buddhist monks have compromised with the kind and possess cars and other luxuries.” — Sulak Sivaraksa

22. “Monk there was, one of the finest sort, An outrider; hunting was his sport; A manly man, to be an abbot able.” — Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

23. “When I was a teenager, I wanted to be in a group, or I wanted to work for Greenpeace, or I wanted to be a Buddhist monk.” — Dave Wakeling

24. “Buddha’s first admonition to the bhikkhus or monks was to go forth into the world and work for the welfare of the people.” — A. T. Ariyaratne

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25. “The interesting thing was that the Roman Catholic monks and the Buddhist monks had no trouble understanding each other.” Joseph Campbell

26. “One of the books that has guided me in the last ten years of my life to help me to be that leader is the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s Being Peace.” — Sandra Cisneros

27. “Why do you expect reward in heaven for that? No, saintly monk, you try being virtuous in the world, do good to society, without shutting yourself up in a monastery.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. “Celibacy is one of the most unnatural things. It has destroyed so many human beings – millions – Catholic monks, Hindu monks, Buddhist monks, Jaina monks, nuns.” — Rajneesh

29. “Just studying Buddhism, then meditating and going to Buddhist monasteries, talking to Buddhist monks, combined with the Thai people themselves, changed the way I look at the world.” — John Burdett

30. “It’s probably even the case that if you stoked up some Buddhist monks with tons of testosterone, they’d become wildly competitive as to who can do the most acts of random kindness.” — Robert M. Sapolsky

The best monk quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh and Frederick Lenz

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s most recognized monks from Vietnam. Frederick Lenz founded American Buddhism. 

31. “The life of a monk is healing.” — Frederick Lenz

32. “Meditation can be a barrier or a key depending on your mindset.” — Frederick Lenz

33. “To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

34. “A Buddhist monk has a responsibility first and foremost to themselves, and that’s to find the truth each day in every part of their life.” — Frederick Lenz

36. “I nourished that kind of desire until the age of sixteen, when I had the permission from my parents to go and ordain as a Buddhist monk.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

36. “The Buddha also counseled the monks and nuns to avoid wasting any precious time by engaging in idle conversation, oversleeping, pursuing fame and recognition.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

37. “From my own personal encounters and studies with both Tantric and Zen Buddhist monks, I have found them to be humorous, warm, charming, and compassionate.” — Frederick Lenz

38. “As Buddhist monks, our task is to bring ourselves resolutely more and more into light, to forgive and forget, to forget those who create problems for us because to remember them is only to keep problems in mind.” — Frederick Lenz

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39. “Originally, I was interested in athletic pursuits like snowboarding, martial arts, and surfing. When I went to the Himalayas and met a number of Buddhist monks, I was introduced to a new way of looking at life.” — Frederick Lenz

40. “Many people, including Buddhist monks, spend thousands of hours sitting in what they call meditation. In reality, what they’re doing is thinking and ruminating upon their problems.” — Frederick Lenz

Famous monk quotes from diverse voices

Here are some awesome monk quotes from a variety of folks. 

41. “How can a monk with a voice lie?” ― Misba, The High Auction

42. “Wu tang sword style, meditating with the monks.” — RZA

43. “Drunken monk, kick a rhyme off a Ballantine.” — Inspecktah Deck 

44. “A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity.” — Umberto Eco

45. “When a young Celtic monk saw his cat catch a salmon swimming in shallow water, he cried, “The power of the Lord is in the paw of the cat!” Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

46. “There are Christian monks and nuns who already use Buddhist methods in order to develop their devotion, compassion, and ability to forgive.” — Dalai Lama

47. “And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of dukkha: the craving that makes for further becoming accompanied by passion & delight.” — Gautama Buddha

48. “I propose three models; archetypes if you like, that comprise the dimensions of a chivalrous gentleman’s character: the warrior, the lover, and the monk.” ― Brad Miner, The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry

49. “A rich entrepreneur who lives a simple life with his family while helping as many people as he can, is more monk than a monk who lives a secluded life in a monastery meditating and begging.” ― Abhijit Naskar, Monk Meets World

50. “I can’t tell how moving it is to open my email and see a picture of 1,500 Buddhist monks and nuns in the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh forming a human 350 against the backdrop of the melting glaciers.” — Bill McKibben

Many monks have positively changed the world

Some monks live solitary lives and still manage to impact the planet. 

Monks such as Martin Luther, Thich Nhat Hanh, Gregor Mendell, and Dalai Lama Lhamo Thondup have all made efforts to raise the collective consciousness of planet Earth. 

Which was your favorite monk quote?

Be sure to let us know in the comments section. 

Clifton Sankofa has Master's degrees in English, Teaching, and School Leadership. He is a veteran educator and school leader. Clifton has built his career around teaching language arts, social-emotional learning, hip-hop(e), and vegan cooking. Across the country, Black and Brown communities die over preventable diseases. Clifton's aim is to help reverse this trend through cultural shifts. Using hip-hop and cultural-centered activities, he educates young people on how to reclaim their health and heritage through sustainable vegan eating, cooking practices, and literacy skills.
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