An urgent call came to the great Lama of the North
from the Lama of the South
asking for a wise and holy monk
to initiate the novices in the spiritual life.
To everyone's astonishment,
the Great Lama sent five monks instead of one.
To those who inquired, he said cryptically,
"We will be lucky if one of them gets to the Lama."
The group had been on the road some days
when a messenger came running up to them and said,
"The priest of our village has died.
We need someone to take his place."
The village seemed a comfortable sort of place
and the priest's salary was a handsome one.
One of the monks was seized with pastoral concern for the people.
"I should not be a Buddhist," he said,
"if I did not stay on to serve these people."
So he dropped out.
Some days later they happened to stay at the palace of a king
who took a fancy to one of the monks.
"Stay with us," said the king, "and you shall marry my daughter.
And when I die, you will succeed to the throne."
The monk was attracted to the luster of kingship,
so he said, "What better way to influence
the people of this kingdom than to become king?
I should not be a Buddhist if I did not seize this opportunity
to serve the interests of religion."
So he dropped out too.
The rest of the group went on their way and one night, in a hilly region,
came upon a solitary hut that was occupied by a pretty girl
who offered them hospitality and thanked God
for having sent the monks to her.
Her parents had been murdered by mountain bandits
and the girl was all alone and full of anxiety.
Next morning, when it was time to leave,
one of the monks said, "I shall stay with this girl.
I should not be a Buddhist if I did not practice compassion."
So he dropped out .
The remaining two finally came to a Buddhist village
and found, to their horror,
hat all the villagers had abandoned their religion
and were under the sway of a Hindu theologian.
One of the monks said, "I owe it to these people
and to the Lord Buddha himself
to stay on here and win them back to the faith.
The fifth monk eventually got to the Lama of the South.
I have always dropped out
for the best of reasons:
to reform the liturgy,
to change Church structures,
to update the study of scripture,
to make theology relevant
to save the misguided and the misinformed.
the favorite escape route.