The Four Types of Men: Part III – The Monk


 The Monk is the archetype closest to achieving what we understand as Enlightenment, and every one of us who wishes to reach this place of spiritual peace must access our own Monk to find calm, discipline, and love.


Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Note: this is part of a larger series. Please read my introduction here if you would like some background. Today, I explore the loving, thoughtful, and generous-to-a-fault Monk. Remember…no man is only one of these archetypes, and I’m sure there are many more I haven’t even thought of. 🙂

On my last day, in my final year as a student at the University of British Columbia, I was blessed with a ticket to witness speeches from Shirin Ebadi, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as they all received honourary degrees (yes, they have all won Nobel Peace Prizes). I cried, and not just because I was leaving Vancouver and my girlfriend at the time behind. I cried because I was watching three wonderful, loving, glowing human beings laugh and experience deep and profound joy. Despite everything they had seen and everything they had experienced, they laughed and joked and loved life.

There is a concept that translates across faiths and philosophies; it is the concept of Enlightenment. The Monk is the archetype closest to achieving what we understand as Enlightenment, and every one of us who wishes to reach this place of spiritual peace must access our own Monk to find calm, discipline, and love. The Monk is unlike The Philosopher in many ways. It is not curiosity or reason which propels The Monk, but rather a spiritual journey of kindness and love. The Philosopher is naturally skeptical, The Monk is naturally trusting. Can you have aspects of both? Of course. Aren’t we all a bit contradictory?

The Monk is quiet, and can find great pleasure in simple activities, repetition, and discipline. The Warrior might weight train hard by channeling their aggression into their routine. The Monk trains slowly and methodically, without rage, but with intense focus. The Monk feels love for those around him. He is a pacifist, and has a great love for the environment and the people around him. He sees the good in everyone (to paraphrase a Sloan song), and feels joy at being alive. The Monk takes the long-view…he is but a drop of water in an endless river. Even the concept of “I” is foreign to The Monk; he is community-minded, and will help others before himself. In other words, he is not likely to vote Republican.

The Monk’s kindness can lead to a certain naivety. It can lead to The Monk being taken advantage of or bullied. The Monk can be scammed, and can be too trusting. It’s easy to get a broken heart as a Monk, and sometimes you just want to shake your Monk friends and yell “come on! Stand up for yourself! Don’t trust these bastards!” The Monk is not generally a fighter, and takes no solace or pride in violence or having high status. The Monk may not be particularly driven career-wise, preferring instead a simple life. Think Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha.

Positive Attributes: calm, peaceful, kind, thoughtful, generous, warm, good with children and animals, strong teaching skills, comfort, loving, focused, spiritual.

Negative Attributes: passive, avoids conflict, may not speak up, upsets easily, introverted, naive.

Famous Examples: Dalai Lama, Stephen Lewis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Leonard Cohen (also The Bard), and…I’m gonna do it….Jesus Christ.

Energy: warm, safe, positive, love. Curl up next to a monk and bask in his warmth!

Example Professions: various religious callings, librarian, writer or creative job, children’s entertainer, carpenter, social worker, psychologist, counselor.

Animal: Guinea pig, manatee, monkfish (har har), elephant, blue whale.

—Photo joseph ferris/Flickr


For Further Reading Check out:

Four Types of Men: An Introduction

The Four Types of Men: Part I – The Warrior

The Four Types of Men: Part II – The Philosopher

About Josh Bowman

Josh Bowman is a professional fundraiser, story-teller, comedian, and blogger. He has worked and consulted in Vancouver, New York, and now Toronto for almost a decade. Josh improvises around Toronto, including regular shows with Opening Night Theatre, and also blogs for the Huffington Post. You can email Josh here.. If you want to know more about Josh, check this post and this post out first.


  1. Being introverted is negative?

  2. Really enjoying this series. Is that Thich Nat Hahn in the photo?

    I think the Dalai Lama is a great example of both Philosopher and Monk. Not only is he literally a monk, but also intensely curious and intellectual. My huge respect for him is largely influenced by his respect for science. He came out and said (wrote in a book) that if science were to disprove the possibility of reincarnation, one of the central tenets of Buddhism, that Buddhism would change to reflect science. That just struck me as so radical, yet right-on! How many other world religious leaders would say the same?


  1. […] own personal reflection helped me realize that the majority of the time I walk around as a “Monk”: peaceful, passive and focused.  But what I also realized about myself is that at times I have […]

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