We were visiting the largest Tibetan settlement and their monastery in Karnataka during the conducted tour. This was the first time I was visiting a monastery. We could see many child monks around, some playing, some studying and some looking at us curiously.
Our tour-guide was informing us about the tradition in many Buddhist sects of sending one child in the family to live in monastery as an offering to the religion. Parents take the decision in which the child does not have any say. Becoming a monk is supposed to be a thing of respect. In addition, monasteries provide free education, food and shelter to all monks. That then becomes a matter of convenience to poor families as it lessens, to some extent, the burden of raising their children. On the other hand, there is often a trial period prior to ordination, to see if a candidate wishes to become a Buddhist monk for all his life. If he does, he remains in the monastery; otherwise, he is free to leave.
While our tour-guide was giving us this information, I noticed this little monk in front of the large decorated wooden monastery doors. Though he did not say anything and kept looking away from us, his body language seemed to be saying to my mind, “To be or Not to be; that is the question”, and kept begging for an answer.
And my mind whispered, “My child, the answer itself to the question ‘To be or Not to be’ is less important than being decisive when it is time to decide, and then to live with that decision gracefully ever after. So please decide when it is your time to decide. The decision and the grace are the only things that you truely own. The rest is governed by something else.”