The Poor Monks are the oldest and most widespread religion of Baladras. Theorists say that this is because the Poor Monks are willing to adapt to the times, and have never done anything that would warrant attention by unknown forces. Alot of the terms used by the group are still in the ancient tongue, and some monasteries use that language at all times.
The group does get involved with the public, but usually have their monasteries just outside of settlements. Some groups of Poor Monks feel times of isolation are required for proper reflecting, so there are remote monasteries scattered all over Baladras, and sometimes outside it.
Poor Monks can often be picked out from normal people by some of the things they say. It is also typical for members to be wearing the most simplified clothing around. A short brown robe with rope belt is by far the most common outfit.PHILOSOPHY
Overall they believe humanity is good, but certain things can make the soul impure. The acts that taint the soul are kind of like sins but they have no name, it is only said that they cause corruptis. It is expected that everyone assumes an impure soul is bad. It is assumed that people don’t want their soul to be tainted, so they should try to avoid corruptis. A soul that is too far corrupted cannot be saved, but low doses of corruptis fade from the soul in time.
Anything that causes evil, greed, hatred, lust, obsession or temptation in a person causes corruptis. So even too much of a good thing, like pride, can be bad: the person is obsessed with themself. Being around too many impure or bad things can also accumulate corruptis, which is why they are often outside civilization. The tricky thing is determining how much of something is acceptable, and when it’s gone too far.
For example, lying causes corruptis, always. Lying to save someone’s life is the right thing to do, letting them die would be evil. So in lying you have slightly tainted your soul, instead of heavily tainting it by letting them die when it was easily prevented. However, if you were in a situation where you had to lie continuously the corruptis would never have time to disperse. So even if this was for a good cause, you would eventually reach the point where you gain so much corruptis that you can’t be saved, which probably means you turn evil.
Another example involves men and women. A man will see an attractive woman and may naturally think lustful thoughts, this is corruptis, but most find it unavoidable. Flirting can cause corruptis to both people, but this is really just friendly exchange or courting. To actually have sex is much more corruptis, but if it is love, and if it is done after marriage, it is much less so. People should be married, but even then there is risk of obsession or jealousy. Men and women need each other, so the only solution is people have to not be around each other all the time and hopefully have other things they can do.
To the Poor Monks the hardest thing is basically knowing how to live the right way while minimizing corruptis, and making sure it never reaches critical levels. So being a Poor Monk is a life of denial, and requires lots of introspection and understanding. Sometimes it even takes planning. At least this is the problem on the basic level.
The higher one goes in the religion the more esoteric the questions become, until one eventually has understanding of all things. Though others have a more personal goal, like the isolationists, which is to learn how to be free of corruptis. This still has balancing issues, mainly to avoid obsession, but is still about improving yourself. The Poor Monks accept variations so long as they don’t embrace corruptis. Those that are drastically variant usually have their own monasteries.
Here are the basic views of the Poor Monks on the most common things;
- You should never have more money than you need.
- People should be married if they are in love.
- Men and women should not be around each other all day.
- Do not seek power or fame.
The Poor Monks have many who follow their ways, and they know it. Many who follow only do so because it is the safest way of living, they don’t necessarily believe in the spiritual concepts detailed in the group’s philosophy. The Poor Monks believe, and they are happy to know a followers reasons don’t matter because either path ends up doing the right thing anyways.
Because those that only follow to stay safe don’t usually have interests in helping the group, the Poor Monks don’t have to put restrictions on membership. To become a Poor Monk one only has to claim in the presence of a member that they believe in the philosophy, will agree to help the religion, and agree to set a good example for others. The majority of Poor Monks believe in the current teachings, and those who believe something too different may not be accepted, but are usually directed to a monastery which believes similar.
Most help the religion by adhering to it, and set further example by giving advice to others, even when not asked. True members tend to either live in a monastery, or spend lots of time travelling. About half of any monastery is public, and the Poor Monks just assume anyone who goes in belongs. The other half is for actual member stuff, which varies by location. Official members are expected to help when asked, but can usually show up at any monastery and ask for something to do.
The Poor Monks refer to their group as such. When it comes to individuals they differentiate between male and female by saying “Poor Brother” or “Poor Sister,” but sometimes just say “brother” or “sister” alone as improper nouns. Some monks say “brother” or “sister” when dealing with anyone outside the group who is not considered an impure soul. Doing this when someone is known to be unsaveable, or when such people use these terms, is like insulting the Poor Monks.
Official memberships are put on record and eventually spread to master lists in each monastery. Each rank of membership is a very broad category, with advancement gained by recommendation by someone higher. This process must spread to other monasteries, who may investigate the claim, but if the recipient is found worthy then it will be accepted. Most never go past the first rank.
The religion uses the following simple terms to differentiate between ranks, “Poor” may be left out of the title, but is frequently used to signify one is not talking about an actual blood relationship;
Poor Brother/Sister: A recorded member of the group.
Poor Father/Mother: A spiritual superior who is capable of teaching others and making decisions on behalf of their monastery. There is usually a small number of these for each monastery, with a minimum of 1 of each (if a monastery has both sexes).
Poor Master: These are members who seem to have learned more than Fathers and Mothers. Despite this, they have no authority in a monastery, but can’t be ordered either. They are free to do what they want, most are travellers. If they make themselves available then they get sought for advice by all members, usually even each other. Otherwise their relationship with Fathers and Mothers is one of polite requests, which are often done.THOUGHTS ON OTHER GROUPS
Apathetics: If this is even a group then the views are compatible. The only fear would be corruptis from proximity to the low life scum that hide amongst the beggars.
Grim Order: A morbid belief system that is acceptable because it tries to inspire personal improvement. We just wish they spent as much time near happy places as graveyards.
Poor Monks: We believe it’s best we are the most followed religion, but it concerns us to see variant monasteries, there is enough confusion in the world.
Purifiers: They perform a useful service, but risk going too far down the path of violence. Some are already too far down the path of hatred.
Way of Glass: Often obnoxious, which can stress others. At least there is no reason they’d bother us.
Way of Stone: They are trying too hard to contain the wrong thing, and don’t see they will never get it perfect. You can’t make rules to stop corruptis from thought.