The Need For Submission

A friend of mine was recently describing to me some details of his travels in Thailand. He mentioned that for some Thai young men, Buddhist monasteries served an important cultural function in molding and developing the positive traits of obedience, discipline, and humility. As he related his experiences in seeing novice, shave-headed monks begging for food as part of their initiation, I began to think of comparable traditions in the West (or, rather, what was left of them).

A close study of the religious orders in the Western monastic tradition has something to teach us about the virtues of obedience and humility. These virtues have been long out of fashion. It is time they received their proper due in the molding of character.


Novice monks in Thailand

Men respond well to hierarchical institutions which are focused on the serving of a higher power, on spiritual and moral development, and on the idealistic devotion to a cause; the full range of the masculine experience is neglected when we ignore such organizations. It is important that we thoroughly study the rules of religious orders and military orders. We will discuss here the order founded by St. Benedict and his Rule. It was the first, and perhaps the most famous, of the monastic orders in Western Christendom.

Benedict was born in Nursia in the region of Umbria around A.D. 480, and educated in Rome. The era in which he flourished was an age of chaos and violence; the last Western Roman emperor had been deposed in 476, signaling the final triumph of the barbarians. Generations of invasion, famine, and pestilence had completed the ruination Italy; and the depletion of the soil was matched by the exhaustion of human arms.

In one century, urban Rome had shrunk from a metropolis of 1.5 million to less than 300,000, and it was still falling. In this age of anarchy and ignorance, men looked to institutions that offered a refuge from the sea of destitution, and the irredeemable corruption, that surrounded them.


Benedict of Nursia

As a teenager Benedict had lived as an ascetic monk in Subiaco, near Rome. Despite (or perhaps because of) his severity, his sincerity gained him local notoriety, and he was asked by wealthy men to tutor their sons. A cluster of monastic houses had grown about his habitation by 520; and when these expanded still further, he moved his community to a large hill named Monte Cassino, which overlooked the town of Casinum from a height of 1700 feet.

Benedict revolutionized monastic practice by requiring written vows of all novitiates. Until that time, monkish practice had been disorganized and an individual affair. He felt that a trial period was necessary before a firm commitment should be taken. The so-called “Rule of St. Benedict” codified the regulations and practice that would impose order amid the chaos of the age.

The first thing that strikes one about the Benedictine Rule is its communal ethic. Benedict felt that men would perform better, and more predictably, in a structured group under the control of an abbot. Novices (of which there were many) would first learn what was expected of them before being permitted initiation; if they passed this test, then they would undertake permanent vows in writing. This written oath, executed before a witness, was lain on an altar, to impress its sanctity on the mind of the adherent.

Monks were required to work:  Benedict tolerated no idlers, and he believed that temptations multiplied in indolence. The abbot was chosen by the monks, and was required to consult with them on major decisions. But his word was final, and the community was required to obey him. Monks could not leave Monte Cassino without permission; they must avoid arrogant, boisterous behavior; and they must always assume a deportment of humility. All possessions of the order were held in common.


The monastery at Monte Cassino was immense; one historian described it as larger than Buckingham Palace in London. The daily regimen of the Benedictine monks was rigorous and fruitful. Manual labor was required in the fields and shops on the grounds, or in copying manuscripts. It is to these laborious scribes, patiently hunched over tables in the scriptoria, that we owe the preservation of many significant works of classic literature.

We are relieved to note that alcohol was permitted, but not the flesh of any four-footed animal. During Lent, no food was permitted until sunset. The average monk rose at two a.m. and engaged himself in communal prayer in the chapel; more prayers, called “matins” or “lauds” would follow at dawn; and still more during the day based on a complicated division of the day into canonical “hours.”  Without question, the industry and activity of the monk left him little time to brood over the inequities and misfortunes of the secular world from which he had removed himself.

Benedict also provided his community with general ethical counsel, which remains unsurpassed in its simplicity and universality. Chapter II (“On What Kind of Man an Abbot Should Be”) remains a succinct guide to practical leadership. Chapter IV of the Rule (called “The Instrument of Good Works”) gives specific guidance on appropriate virtues. The ideal monk should take care:

14.  To relieve the poor

15.  To clothe the naked

16.  To visit the sick

30.  Not to do injuries, and to bear them with patience

31.  To love one’s enemies

53.  Not to be fond of too much talking

62.  Not to desire to be called a saint, but to be one

72.  After an argument, to make peace with someone before sundown

73.  Never to despair of God’s mercy

All in all, it is healing counsel, and admirably practical. It goes without saying that the monastic life is not suitable for all; but to understand its attraction in the Dark Ages, we must remind ourselves that Benedict was operating at a time when secular institutions had largely collapsed. The moral and political authority of the Caesars had crumbled, and into its shell had stepped the ecclesiastical power of the nascent Church. It was an age of turbulence. During times of bankrupt moral codes and ineffective or nonexistent leadership from civil institutions, men will naturally turn to that which provides structure, rules, guidance, and hierarchy. It is a lesson we would do well to remember.

We may judge the worth of Benedict’s strict rule by the longevity of his creation. For 1500 years, it has provided continuous guidance and moral instruction.  The monastery itself has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times in its history: in 589, in 884, in 1349, in 1799, and most tragically in 1944. It has been rebuilt every time, and the monks have resumed their work. Few institutions created by man can boast of such a continuous record of quiet success. Benedict’s Rule teaches that if we seek to serve a higher calling, we must force ourselves to accept deprivation, want, and humility.

Submission is the gateway to higher things. Our constant striving and grasping for things beyond our reach creates tensions and stresses that cry out for relief.  The monastic rule, whether in Thailand or in Italy, has something to teach us: nothing can be gained except through discipline, the imposition of rules, hard work, submission to authority, and self-denial. There are no shortcuts. There are no magic wands.

Across the centuries, and down the arches of the years, St. Benedict’s bearded visage calls out to us: my son, give up some of your freedom and your pride, and I can help give you your humanity.

Read More: 3 Habits Every Man Should Practice

71 thoughts on “The Need For Submission”

  1. In times of severity there’s self discipline. In times of abundance there’s self indulgence. The pendulum forever swings until you reach the point where the clock no longer exists.

      1. Yes John, that’s where the clock disappears. When you’re disciplined with your pleasures and find pleasure in your disciplines. Time flies when you’re having fun.

  2. Self-discipline is a fundamental component of a successful life. However, I’m not convinced that “submission” as defined in the context of this conversation is necessary or the most effective manner of creating self-discipline. For me, self-discipline came about through a combination of the pursuit of self-reliance coupled with a long-term vision for one’s future. The problem with submission in this context is that it can expose one to parasitism by others who are not worthy of one’s attention.

  3. This is a great article for RoK. It’s informative, and promotes a message of positive self improvement. Sometimes, a few bloggers are way too big on bullet points for click bait, and their articles are filled with unmasculine whining.

    1. I agree. I am surprised that from this secular site, I got a divine message. It was greatly needed QC! Whether you meant or not.

        1. That’s actually true. But some are blind to the obvious. ROK helps blind people see again. Thank you for another quality, introspective article.

  4. Small correction. Benedict of Nursia was born in Nursia (modern Norcia) near Spoleto (not Split) in Italy.

    1. Correct. The mistake is understandable though since modern day Split (in Croatia) used to be a Venetian possession and had the Italian name of Spalato.

  5. Self-Discipline is the difference between an civilized person and walking, sub-human zoo animal.

    1. I’m very glad to hear that. I don’t understand why more young men don’t just reject the modern feminist society by becoming monks? I’d like to one day create a monastery and help give a place to young men also.

    2. 30 years ago, there were maybe five monasteries in the country (men’s and women’s). Today there are about 70. But they’re pretty cult-like, at least some of them. Lots of converts burned out on the American dream.

  6. Once upon a time, the U.S. Armed Forces had a culture of professional warriors, steeped in monklike discipline and merit.
    Alas, no more. Its dwindling pockets of excellence have been surrounded and under siege since the 1970s.

  7. Really good article, Quintus. I actually spent 6 years of my life living as a Hindu monk and you really captured what such a lifestyle is like, and the positive qualities it creates in you. It builds character.

    1. I’m glad to hear that. I suspected that, out there in the ranks of the manosphere, there was an untapped reservoir of men willing to take up the challenge of serving a higher purpose, while at the same time developing their masculine traits.
      If we are ever to resurrect the spirit of the Templars (!) or the Hospitallers, the ground must be prepared and fertilized.

        1. My advice to you all is to put God first and foremost in your life. Nothing should be more important in your life than your spirituality, your relationship with the Divine.
          A spiritual but soulless man triggers an alarm though, as a spiritual but soulless woman triggers a horror.
          I will be checking your blog.

      1. The Templars? The stooges of the Popes? The ones who were turned on, and burnt at the stake by a corrupt French King?
        I hope the next Templars are none to foolish.

  8. “nothing can be gained except through discipline, the imposition of rules, hard work, submission to authority, and self-denial. There are no shortcuts. There are no magic wands.”
    Striving towards an ideal sure I can submit to that, but submitting to authority? I’m not giving up my freedom to someone else whose more powerful than me. Listening to authority is not some virtue people should believe in. Military is a perfect example of this, all these people who join think they’re serving their country by going and fighting a war to stop terrorists from taking away the freedom of their home country. When what they’re really doing is invading a country to do a hostile take over all because they followed orders by the bankers who only want to subdue that country. The order followers think they’re doing some great by killing innocent people and not realizing it.
    Order following and submitting to authority should never be seen as a good thing. Wasn’t it Ben Franklin who said ” Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Never give up your freedom to someone, look whats happening to the west the US government has so much power and control over the population and for what? Because we don’t want to be responsible for ourselves so we need cameras, TSA and a growing military state for some security?

    1. You’re confusing two different “freedoms.” Surrendering political freedom and surrendering the freedom to indulge your impulses wontonly are two different things. We are here speaking of “submission” to an idea, a concept, that involves some degree of self-denial.

      1. Ok I see the context in which you used submission than it doesn’t mean submitting oneself to another person but to strive towards a higher objective in life. Well then I think the appropriate word would be sacrifice not submission. The submission to authority got me but I understand now in what context you were using it. I agree with your message. Living in a self delusion of meaningless pleasures leads one to a life of ruin, self destruction and some cases insanity. Most men need to have a purpose in life to be fulfilled and for most cultures that ideal has always been God or self realization. Anyways thanks for clearing that up.

        1. Sacrifice is the giving of a greater value in order to receive a lesser value. I think that’s exactly the opposite of the submission a student takes before a master. He gives up a lesser value, a temporary sense of not being in charge and having to follow directions, for a greater value, which is the learning he receives which he can then incorporate throughout his life.

    2. It’s like what is meant by female submission around here. I doubt anyone here wants (to quote tvtropes) a submissive moeblob with no will of her own. Most want a woman with a passion of her own, even if so she has something to do. But deference to male authority is necessary, that is what is meant by submission. Giving up some autonomy for a master you trust and have a personal relationship with and is indebted to be worthy of your trust. The master is also giving up his autonomy by taking you on after all.
      This harmony is not present in the situation you described, as you correctly demonstrate.

  9. During the 500 year long Ottoman rule the Bulgarian spirit, culture and national identity was preserved in the few remaining monasteries. The national revival also started there. Nowadays the monasteries have been turned into businesses. The monks sell organic produce and serve as hotels. Some monks are even involved in homosexual prostitution.
    Today Monte Cassino is the same – a touristy place owned by the government. Good for selfies!

    1. A sad mark of our decadent and soulless times.
      A healthy society needs social capital, for that a people need a culture, and to have a culture they must have a nationalistic edge.
      Not going to go further than that because this is a manosphere site.
      to connect it back to manosphere teachings what many people think of as Alpha traits (being a dick basically) is only half of the equation. An alpha has the privilege of being a dick because of what he has accomplished and the submission he imposed on himself.

      1. Nationalism or any sense of cultural belonging is being associated with racism, one of the main rallying points of progressives. I see it here, representatives of Immigrant councils (paid for by taxpayers, the vast majority are from the indigenous culture), making statements like “national cultures have changed and now encompass all other cultures”. Yes all and none…..

    2. It wouldn’t surprise me. Periodically, old institutions need to be cut down so they can grow again, fresh and new. Over time, any institution composed of human beings will inevitably lose touch with their purpose. Then reform or replacement is necessary. All nations, all cultures, all religions eventually are replaced by new ones.

        1. Excellent article. You won’t get too many comments on spiritual discipline these days, but it truly is the core of masculinity. Thanks as well for the vid Piotr. Incredible to see monastic life still in practice to such an intense degree. I had no idea.

  10. I won’t lie, I’ve been waiting for an article like this. Instant gratification is another story. Reading self improvement material for years aside from sex life, I haven’t been as successful in my financial and self discipline. There isn’t a cheering audience waiting for you, no raucous crowd and no adulation for self improvement. Just a changed life. I think submission is a great idea that is long forgotten. The arts were passed through submission, physical and mental. Nothing is wrong with having a master. A master is temporary, mastering yourself is for life.
    While I’m a long way from that, I’m soaking up the information here like a sponge.

  11. Interesting stuff.
    I submit, however, that it would be a mistake for a young man sitting on the fence to read this and then decide that going into the military is a good idea.
    Joining the US armed services is the ultimate submission by a man to the feminist state. That is not a higher power, that is a lower power, and not one you want to serve.

    1. I am joining the Russian army. Probably will go into GRU since I speak English.

  12. Very good article Quintus as always, you should have more recognition for your work.
    It often makes me sad, being born at the age of smartphones and facebook, when It could have been in the age of Cathedrals, or castels.
    Have you noticed that in our time everything that is material, (architecture, pictural art) is getting uglier and uglier, while everything that is virtual is getting more and more appealing, as if the humanity was disconnecting itself from the reality ?
    Anyway, that’s the feeling I get when reading about history.

  13. This was very well done, as are most of your posts, sir.
    father was a Franciscan Novice, but rejoined the Navy after 2 years of
    study. He brought my brothers and I to annual retreats every year or
    two, where an all-male environment allowed us to talk between men and
    boys of things age-appropriate on self-development and the cultivation
    of discipline and grace. Being a child of the burbs, I took to the
    agriculture and beer-brewing brothers’ work, and spent my working hours
    for 10 days every summer, learning to drive heavy equipment and making
    beer. Not coincidentally, I’m still practicing my faith best I can, and
    would like to think that the brothers’ discipline and approach to life
    with humor and humility has helped me as an adult.

  14. Spiritual discipline is vital. Sadly, it is something our culture has thrown away with a host of other virtues, with predictable results. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

  15. In passing, one might note that the very title of “Islam” means “submission.” Admittedly there are different views about the context of the word “submission”, but the most positive meaning of the word is “submission or surrender to God” in the sense expressed in the article — as in, submission to a disciplined way of life.
    More generally, the concept of submission to authority can be understood by anyone who wants to learn something involved. The relationship of master and student by definition includes submission to the master’s will: the student cannot do what the master does himself, so submits to the master’s instructions about how to do something. It depends on the master, of course, and one should always carefully choose one’s teachers in any aspect of life, but a student will learn a hell of a lot more from listening to a master than by explaining or justifying his own mistakes made on the way.
    There was, at West Point, an old tradition that echoes with submission: that when a superior asked you a question, there were only three available answers: (a) Yes, sir; (b) No, sir; or (c) No excuse, sir.

  16. Most of the great spiritual texts are as red pill as it gets. If you want some serious red pill literature, read anything by David Hawkins M.D.
    Truth vs. Falsehood, Power vs. Force, The Eye of the I
    These books will change your life.

  17. Read “A Time to Keep Silence” by Patrick Leigh Fermor. About his visits to various monasteries . Le Grande Trappe , Cappadocia . Fermor lived for weeks at these monasteries…Great first hand accounts…

  18. I did some studying of the monastic orders a few years ago, but I don’t think I learned the lessons I should. I’m actually (perhaps a bit more obviously) drawn to the Templars and Hospitallers. They were monks too, but picked up the sword to serve God.
    My favorite story is the Hospitallers’ conduct in the Siege of Malta in 1565 against the Ottoman Empire. They were hopelessly outnumbered but fought with such tenacity and will that they won. And it was a lesson that the fighters at Lepanto would remember.
    It can be said that the Manosphere is a monastery of sorts. As the “progressive” poison continues to decay the West and its civil institutions, we’ve built a virtual monastery to instill discipline in the face of hedonism and give training in masculine traits to take up the sword against Cultural Marxism.
    The West is failing in its masculine identity, and so the sphere has arrived to fill that vacuum. Hopefully we too can throw off the siege, like the Hospitallers (Order of Saint John) did in 1565.

  19. “During times of bankrupt moral codes and ineffective or nonexistent leadership from civil institutions, men will naturally turn to that which provides structure, rules, guidance, and hierarchy. It is a lesson we would do well to remember.”
    QC does it again! Great article.
    This is what I see myself growing towards, and I’m sure a lot of guys agree. When I look around many people lack self control to varying degrees, and as I get older it seems as though that number of people grows larger and larger at least in my eyes. I may have a biased point of view, or our culture may be collapsing rapidly, but either way adopting discipline has been the thing that’s helped most in my life.
    I just wonder what will come out of all this in the end when the US and western cultures in general finally hit rock bottom and whether we’ll be alive to see it.

  20. I think the lesson to be had here is that the Holy Roman Catholic Church, not some philosophers, not “freedom”, not Christianity in general, is the foundation of the glorious Western civilization. The virtues it imbedded in generations of men made us dominant.

  21. why couldn’t more religious institutions follow Benedictine Rule? We’d actually have a lot less hatred against our fellow man because we would know morals start with us, not necessarily with God.
    godliness with out self reflection and self discipline create more dissonance than no god at all. Athiests would actually be pretty useless if more religious people had self discipline on this level.

  22. The ideal monk should take care:
    14. To relieve the poor
    15. To clothe the naked
    16. To visit the sick
    30. Not to do injuries, and to bear them with patience
    31. To love one’s enemies
    53. Not to be fond of too much talking
    62. Not to desire to be called a saint, but to be one
    72. After an argument, to make peace with someone before sundown
    73. Never to despair of God’s mercy

    Failing to distinguish between legitimately impoverished (children) and those who breed suffering in poverty by way of lottery (any children that survive are the jackpot) is lazy, criminal and dubious.
    All Christian morality is a smokescreen for true Christianity (example attached).

    Onward Christian soldiers,
    Marching as to war.
    With the Cross of Jesus
    Going on before.

    First they send the monks to confuse the indigenous peoples. The sociopathic reality massacring and raping in their wake. The Christian double-tap.

  23. This by far one of the best articles written in RoK. It has substance and teaches self discipline. There aren’t too many good articles in the site but this one is exceptional. Anyone can learn from reading this.

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