The 6th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Monastery (plural: Monasteries) denotes the building, or complex of buildings, comprising the domestic quarters and workplace(s) of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone (hermits).
Monasteries may vary greatly in size, comprising a small dwelling accommodating only a hermit, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks or nuns, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds.
A monastery complex typically comprises a number of buildings which include a church, dormitory, cloister, refectory, library, balneary and infirmary.
Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may also include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community.
These may include a hospice, a school and a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge or a brewery.
In English usage, the term "monastery" is generally used to denote the buildings of a community of monks.
some religious traditions mandate isolation for purposes of contemplation removed from the everyday World, in which case members of the monastic community may spend most of their time isolated even from each other.
Some monastic communities are only occupied seasonally, depending both on the traditions involved and the local weather, and people may be part of a monastic community for periods ranging from a few days at a time to almost an entire lifetime.
Monasteries have always been associated with the provision of education and the encouragement of scholarship and research, which has led to the establishment of schools and colleges and the association with universities.