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About This Blog

What is a monk?
A monk is someone who every day asks:
“What is a monk?”
—Cistercian monk Dom Andre Louf

Do you have to eternally silent, celibate, separate and sober to be a monk? Is monastic life all about giving up marriage, sex, and property, and hiding from the real world? Or are these incidental? Is monasticism something else?

Through this blog,  we have been contemplating the essence of monasticism, and finding that it has more to do with how a group of people builds a self-sustaining community, structures a life together (e.g. through shared routines of contemplation, work and meals), opens up to silence, gratitude, integrity and presence, pursues an enlightened collectivity, and wakes up together.

Any community or movement—whether secular, interfaith, or religious—can choose to benefit from the wide array of monastic technologies that humanity has produced in the past few thousand years. The Art Monastery Project and its International Otherhood of Artmonks are just one example. This site explores the possibilities.

The secular world has begun to embrace the inner technologies of the world’s contemplative traditions. Athletes, entrepreneurs, psychologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, doctors, cognitive scientists and cosmologists are learning from and implementing various forms of meditative practice. But what of the outer, visible, measurable technologies of those contemplative traditions? How are we learning from those technologies that fit into what is broadly called monasticism? And how are we impacting them? This blog asks the question: what can the secular world learn from monastic traditions?

Why can’t anyone build or be part of an “otherhood”?

About the Author

Nathan Rosquist (@nwr) is a writer, composer, occasional designer, and artmonk with the Art Monastery Project. He studied Mandarin Chinese and Linguistics at the University of Colorado, and has an MBA in Sustainable Community Economic Development from Bainbridge Graduate Institute. He is currently pursuing an MFA at San Francisco Art Institute and working on starting an Art Monastery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Recent Otherhood Posts



  1. Integral Monastery
    February 17, 2011

    Wow! I was sneaking around on Google and found your blog by mistake; as it turns out, it appears you cover practically everything I’m interested in.

    I subscribed to your RSS feed, and will look forward to updates.

    Maybe we could collaborate on a text or two sometime, seeing we have much in common.

    Kind regards,

    • Nathan Rosquist
      February 17, 2011

      That’s amazing. I’m not sure if you noticed, but I mention “integral monasticism” above in the “about” section, and have quoted Wilber a bit (e.g. http://wp.me/s11Tis-nuggets). I’m so glad someone is taking integral ideas to that level. Since starting this blog, I’ve always felt that however secular monasticism evolves in the world, it won’t be able to ignore the integral approach. I’ll definitely follow your blog too! Yes, let’s collaborate.


  2. Joe Nelson
    April 1, 2011

    Nathan, your website is fascinating. For a few years I have been thinking about the possibility a “secular monastery,” a place with well-defined rules and chores, but offering the freedom for “monks” to study and collaborate. Kind of like a free university that welcomes guests but doesn’t grant degrees. Do you know of a place like this? The art monastery project looks very close, but I was thinking more about studying mathematics and literature than the performing arts.

    • Nathan Rosquist
      April 1, 2011

      Joe, I think you’re on to something. I’ll let you know if I come across anything like this.