Monk/Nun

(Celibate)

The positive aspects of this archetype are fairly obvious: spiritual intensity, devotion, dedication, persistence, and perhaps wisdom. On the shadow side, the role of a religious recluse could be seen as removed from the real world, overly pious, even privileged in the sense of not having to be concerned about earning a living or raising a family. Yet, historically, monks have been extremely industrious and involved in real-world enterprises, whether draining swamps and planting vineyards in medieval Europe, working the rice fields in Asia, building monasteries, teaching, or copying and preserving texts. Today the Monk archetype may show up in the ability to be single-minded, assiduous, devoted to a spiritual path or to any great achievement that requires intense focus. In this sense, novelists and entrepreneurs can carry the Monk as readily as spiritual adepts.

The Celibate reserves his or her energy for work and/or spiritual practice. Yet one can be a Monk, even a religious one, without being celibate, as is the case with some Tibetan lamas, Yogis, and Islamic scholars. Then there were Abelard and Heloise, the twelfth-century Monk and Nun who forsook their vows of celibacy out of passion for each other. Both were superior in their fields–Abelard as lecturer, debater, and philosopher, Heloise as a radical prioress and founder of convents–and, although their passion caused them great suffering, it does not seem to have hurt their spiritual work.