In the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) there is no pressure to become ordained, as can be seen from the far vaster number of NKT practitioners, including senior members, who remain lay. Ven. Geshe Kelsang has always encouraged four types of teacher in the NKT – monks, nuns, lay men and lay women – who all study and teach the same programs.

The General Spiritual Director (GSD) will not grant ordination to anyone unless they sincerely request to become ordained from their own side. The GSD does not accept for ordination anyone under 18 years of age, and they are encouraged to wait until they are 22 years of age or older.

Ordination is a significant, personal choice involving a lifestyle change. Therefore, it would be very wrong to pressurize or even persuade someone into it. Instead, Resident Teachers are required to talk ordination through carefully with students who are requesting it and encourage them to wait if appropriate. The students are often advised to “live like a monk or nun” for at least a year to see if it is a lifestyle that is going to suit them. It should also be made clear to them as a deterrent that if they choose to ordain they will need to respect their vows for the rest of their lives, and, if they break these, they will have to leave their Dharma Center and study program for one year. After one year they may return, but they cannot be a teacher.

It is true that, despite all these safeguards, sometimes relatively young people do get ordained, only to discover later that ordained life is not for them. However, such over-enthusiasm of young people is not uncommon anywhere in the world, in any tradition or religion.