Smear: NKT makes its members get ordained too young
Truth: The General Spiritual Director (GSD) will not grant ordination to anyone unless they sincerely request to become ordained from their own side and also if they have permission from their parents and so forth. 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. In the NKT there is no pressure to become ordained, as can be seen from the far greater number of NKT practitioners, including senior members, who remain lay.
In a skilful move to bring Buddhism into the modern world and escape the old Tibetan hierarchy (which favored monks), 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.
Ordination is a significant, personal choice and so it would be wrong to pressurize someone into it. Resident Teachers are required to talk it through carefully with students who are requesting it and encourage them to wait if appropriate. It is supposed to be made clear to them as a deterrent that if they choose to ordain they will need to respect their vows, 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.
Although it is true that sometimes relatively young people get ordained, and then later discover that ordained life is not appropriate for them, such over-enthusiasm of young people is not uncommon anywhere in the world, in any tradition or religion.