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Thousands of Buddhist monks in Mongolia were killed under Communist leadership in the 1930s.
Today’s millennial generation is the first to come of age since democracy was introduced, and young monks are finding a new set of challenges to keep their religion alive.
The leaders of one revered monastery are in their 20s and 30s, and are struggling to attract new students.
In Mongolia, the future of one of the world’s oldest religions is in the hands of millennials.
Young Buddhist monks are increasingly being given control of Mongolia’s monasteries as the religion struggles to find new blood.
The millennial generation of monks is the first to come of age since democracy was introduced to Mongolia in 1990. Prior to that, Buddhists in this sparsely-populated country faced deadly persecution — an estimated 17,000 monks were killed in Stalinist purges in the late 1930s.
Now, monks in their 20s and 30s are tasked with leading the next generation of Buddhist religious leaders. At one monastery in northern Mongolia, the monks alternate hours of religious study with games of basketball and the occasional phone call, a privilege reserved for people older than 25.
Here’s what life is like for Mongolia’s generation of millennial monks.
The millennial generation of monks in Mongolia is the first generation to come of age since democracy came to the country in 1990. Before, under communist leadership, Mongolia lost thousands of monks to bloody purges.
Religious centers like the Amarbayasgalant Monastery are shells of what they once were. Before the purges, 800 monks resided at the monastery. Just 40 live there today.
Located in the seemingly endless grasslands of northern Mongolia, the monastery is struggling to attract and retain students.
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