Modestly described by its author as "a little rule for beginners," this masterpiece of spiritual wisdom dates from the sixth century. It was originally intended as a manual for aspiring monks, a diverse group composed of serfs, scholars, shepherds, and sons of the nobility. St. Benedict's little book eventually developed into the preeminent monastic legislative code, a distinction it maintains to this day. In addition to its importance in the organization and spread of Western monasticism, this volume also offers sound suggestions for readers outside the abbey. Benedict explores issues related to charity, personality, integrity, and spirituality. Mindful of human frailty, he counsels an ever-increasing self-discipline, supported by community worship. His teachings have guided readers from every walk of life for 1,500 years, encouraging and inspiring them with advice regarding the dignity of labor, the challenge of responsibility, and the proper use of resources.