Monday, June 8, 2009

The Process Looked Good on Paper!

One of the stranger aspects of Tibetan Buddhism is how the lineage picks their leader. When a Dalai Lama dies, a search party goes out to find the child which now houses the Lama's reincarnated soul (it's not actually the soul, but I'm using that term because most of the people who read this blog are non-buddhists, and I really don't feel like getting into the nitty gritty of reincarnation - which I'm not totally on board with, anyway). Once a candidate is found, the search party dumps a bunch of the previous Lama's personal effects in front of the kid, and, based on how the kid reacts to the items ("Oh, look! He grabbed the eyeglasses!"), the child is or is not deemed the new leader. The candidate is then whisked off to a monastary in Tibet where they spend the rest of the child's life grooming him for his role as religious leader of that branch of Buddhism.

Sometimes, though, it doesn't go well.

Osel Hita Torres went through the process, and was deemed to be the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe who died shortly before Osel's birth. Now he's 24, and has decided to bail on the whole thing. He considers his childhood to be "living a lie," and seems to be very upset. And with good reason, since according to him the only movie he was allowed to watch was Eddie Murphy's The Golden Child! I'm thinking that would pretty much turn anyone off of the faith.

Can you imagine how many people Scientology would lose if the only movie they could watch was Battlefield Earth?

Here's the article that provides more details. Personally, I think the whole process is flawed, as no one ever asked the child what he (and it's always a boy - yet another problem with the system) wanted out of life. It was just assumed that the kid wanted to be the spiritual leader of an exiled people. Noble enterprise, but only if you're up to, and feel called to, the challenge.

In case you're curious what the Tibetans think, they're still calling him Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche and I guess figure that he'll come around some day. You know how kids are!

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