CLASSIFYING MONKS and nuns as calm, meditative, religious beings is easy enough to do, but these ideals fail to tell their whole story. They are human beings just as we are, with desires, needs, and worries. Maybe most importantly, they too are drawn to both learn and play.

The images below capture daily life in or near several monasteries in Burma, including pilgrims offering dana, monks playing a board game, and nuns learning trigonometry. There’s even a shot of a Buddha statue being created to remind us of the role of capitalism plays in religion.

The purpose of our lives may seem opposite to theirs, but the basics of life aren’t all that different.

This article was originally published on August 5th, 2010.