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Dalai Lama: a spiritual leader who is found, not chosen

August 29, 2008

The current Dalai Lama has said if his spirit is reborn, it may not
be in a country under Chinese rule
Samira Shackle
Guardian (UK)
August, 27 2008

The Dalai Lama is found rather than chosen. He is believed to have
the power to choose the body into which he is reincarnated, meaning
that the current Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of the last.

The search for the reborn Dalai Lama is the responsibility of the
High Lamas of the Gelgupa tradition and the Tibetan government.

This process can take several years: it took four years to find the
14th (current) Dalai Lama, Tensin Gyatso. The search is generally
limited to Tibet, although the current Dalai Lama has said that there
is a chance that he will not be reborn, and that if he is, it will
not be in a country under Chinese rule.

To start the search, High Lamas may have a vision or dream. If the
previous Dalai Lama was cremated, they watch the direction of the
smoke to indicate the direction of rebirth.

They often meditate at Lhamo La-Tso, central Tibet's holy lake, and
wait for a vision or indication of the direction in which to search.
This relates to a belief that the female guardian spirit of the lake
promised the first Dalai Lama that she would protect the reincarnation lineage.

When these visions have been followed up and a boy found, there are a
series of tests to ensure that he is the rebirth. There is a secret
set of criteria against which the child is assessed. In addition to
this, the main test consists of presenting the boy with a number of
items to see if he can select those which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama.

If only one boy has been found, the High Lamas confirm their findings
with eminent religious and secular figures before reporting to the
Central Government.

If more than one boy is found, a public lot is drawn by officials and monks.

The boy and his family are taken to Lhasa, where the boy can study
the Buddhist sutra to relearn knowledge accumulated in previous lives
in preparation for spiritual leadership.
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