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.


Religious activity, 

the favorite escape route.







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