I have a question, so if anyone versed in the history of Christian and/or Buddhist monasticism can answer, I would be appreciative.
As far as I know, monasticism was not part of Jewish practice, is that correct? But Christian monasteries were formed within the first few centuries of the Christian Era. I don’t know which was the earliest, or how the practice was introduced into Christianity.
What I do know is that Buddhists had been practicing it from the beginning of their faith, which was 500 years before Christ. There were Hindu monastics for centuries prior to that, but the Buddha gave His monastic order, the Sangha, a special character and a special place in the religion.
The question arises, did Christians borrow any aspects of their monastic practice from Buddhists? If not, how do we explain the similarities in daily routine, celebacy, the balance between contemplative life and reaching out to the broader world, etc.?