The destruction of Tibet at the hands of communist China is one of the greatest calamities that could have happened to humanity. It is not only a question of a small country; it is a question of a great experiment that was going on for centuries in Tibet. The first child was given to the monasteries when he was very small – five, or at the most six, years old. I am reminded of one incident: there would have been millions like it….
A six-year-old child…. Tibet knew that children can learn witnessing better than grown-ups. The grown-ups are already utterly spoiled. The child is innocent and as yet the slate of his mind is empty. To teach him emptiness is absolutely easy. But the entrance of a child into a monastery was very difficult, particularly for a small child. I am telling you about only one incident but there would have been hundreds of incidents happening like this. It is bound to be so.
A small child, six years old, is leaving. His mother is crying, because life in a monastery for a small child is going to be so arduous. The father tells the child, “Don’t look back! It is a question of our family’s respectability. In the whole history of our family a child has never looked back – not even once. Whatever the entrance test for the monastery is, even if your life is at risk, don’t look back. Don’t think of me or your mother and her tears.
“We are sending you for the ultimate experiment in human consciousness with great joy…even though the separation is painful. But we know you will pass through all the tests. You are our blood, and of course you will keep the dignity of your family.”
The small child rides on the horse with a servant riding on another horse. A tremendous desire arises in him when the road turns, just to have a look again back to the family house, to its garden. The father must be standing there, the mother must be crying…but he remembers that his father has said, “Don’t look back.”
And he does not look back. With tears in his eyes, he turns with the road. Now he cannot see his house anymore and one never knows how long it will take – perhaps years and years – until he will be able to see his father and mother and his family again.
He reaches the monastery. At the gate of the monastery the abbot meets him, receives him gracefully, as if he is a grown-up, bows down to him as he bows down to the abbot. And the abbot says, “Your first test will be to sit outside the gate with closed eyes, unmoving, unless you are called in.”
The small child sits at the gate, outside the gate with closed eyes. Hours pass…and he cannot even move. There are flies sitting in his face, but he cannot remove them. It is a question of the dignity that the abbot has shown to him. He does not think anymore like a child; so respected, he has to fulfill his family’s longing, the abbot’s expectations.
The whole day passes, and even other monks in the monastery start feeling sorry for the child. Hungry, thirsty…he is simply waiting. They start feeling that the child is small, but he has great courage and guts.