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News Deconstruct:

Source Article:  Boy chosen by Dalai Lama turns back on Buddhist order





As a toddler, he was put on a throne and worshipped by monks who treated him like a god. But the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of a spiritual leader has caused consternation – and some embarrassment – for Tibetan Buddhists by turning his back on the order that had such high hopes for him.

Instead of leading a monastic life, Osel Hita Torres now sports baggy trousers and long hair, and is more likely to quote Jimi Hendrix than Buddha.

Yesterday he bemoaned the misery of a youth deprived of television, football and girls. Movies were also forbidden – except for a sanctioned screening of The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy, about a kidnapped child lama with magical powers. “I never felt like that boy,” he said.

He is now studying film in Madrid and has denounced the Buddhist order that elevated him to guru status. “They took me away from my family and stuck me in a medieval situation in which I suffered a great deal,” said Torres, 24, describing how he was whisked from obscurity in Granada to a monastery in southern India. “It was like living a lie,” he told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. Despite his rebelliousness, he is still known as Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche and revered by the Buddhist community. A prayer for his “long life” still adorns the website of the Foundation to Preserve the Mahayana Tradition, which has 130 centres around the world. The website features a biography of the renegade guru that gushes about his peaceful, meditative countenance as a baby. In Tibetan Buddhism, a lama is one of a lineage of reincarnated spiritual leaders, the most famous of which is the Dalai Lama.

According to the foundation biography, another leader suspected Torres was the reincarnation of the recently deceased Lama Yeshe when he was only five months old. In 1986, at 14 months, his parents took him to see the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. The toddler was chosen out of nine other candidates and eventually “enthroned”.

At six, he was allowed to socialise only with other reincarnated souls – though for a time he said he lived next to the actor Richard Gere’s cabin.

By 18, he had never seen couples kiss. His first disco experience was a shock. “I was amazed to watch everyone dance. What were all those people doing, bouncing, stuck to one another, enclosed in a box full of smoke?”

— end source ©2009 The Guardian Newspaper Group 

My Thoughts:


First – Correction, His Holiness the Dalai Lama did not choose the boy – I believe Lama Yeshe’s helpers did and the boy’s over-eager parents enthusiastically signed on board (or vice-versa).  It looked that way in the film, anyway.  I always felt a tad sympathetic for the child, whose fate could easily match that of a Marjoe.


His Holiness just endorsed the choice – and that endorsement may have been subject to considerations (ie. as a way to settle internal semi-politicalized divisions between sects and/or after focussed contributions… the sort of the unheralded backroom dealings that grease the wheels of ages-old Tibetan Buddhism).  Dunno.   Anyway – one bad apple doesn’t spoil the oranges and other euphemistically optimistic aphorisms that flies can’t stick on him.


Correction #2 – if the boy paid attention during his lessons he would have heard that we’re all reincarnated souls, so Richard Gere would not likely have been an exception.  Socialising with the supermarket check-out girl would have been equally valid as an opportunity to get close to another reincarnative being.  It all works, young Buddhists are told.  I think perhaps it was the reporter who didn’t pay sufficient attention.


Nothing to debate particularly (debate having different meaning outside the Gelugpa-based FPMT; inside of which skillful debate can become one’s life blood).   But usually debate about anything but gossip… even if potential loss of a tulku is likely a juicy topic for someone’s buzz.   I think basically this is just causing a lot of consternation and sadness.  Maybe there will be a nice surprise at the end of it.


All in all a badly-written article from The Guardian, which should know better.  The writer apparently neglected to put much time into research, and seems to project disdain for certain aspects of Vajrayana Buddhism.  Too bad for a major international paper.


All water under the tusch.


Michael –  Nkagpa K. Jigme Tonpa

p.s. how, I ask, in Buddhism is a boy put on a throne to be “worshipped by monks who treated him like a god.”?   How does that go, exactly?  Which god (in a world absent of them)? Monkey King?  White Bone Demon?  Zoroaster?  Kali?  Ed Murphy?….. eeech.


And Jimi Hendrix was no slouch… a few Buddhists would do well to quote him.

April 2021

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