Join our Mailing List

"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama's choice tells of misery

June 4, 2009

MADRID June 3, 2009 (AFP) — While the Dalai Lama is on a tour of Europe, a Spanish man who he proclaimed to be the reincarnation of a Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader has spoken of his unhappy childhood at a monastery and his decision to abandon the faith.


Osel Hita Torres made world headlines in 1986 when the Dalai Lama recognised him, then aged 14 months, as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe, who had died in California two years earlier.


He had been brought to see the Dalai Lama in India by his parents and ended up living at a monastery there, where he was only allowed to socialize with others who had been proclaimed reincarnations, until he turned 18.


But even though many Buddhists worshipped him almost as a god, Torres said in a rare interview published over the weekend in Spain that he feels the experience stunted the development of his personality.


"Psychologically, everything affected me very much. I still feel fury inside and, sometimes, when it comes out, it causes me to lose control and I get depressed," Torres, 24, told daily newspaper El Mundo.


"They took me away from my family and stuck me in a medieval situation in which I suffered a great deal. It was like living a lie," added Torres, who now describes himself as a "spiritual scientific agnostic".


When he was eight, he managed to have a tape recorded message expressing his unhappiness delivered to his mother, who took him away from the Sera monastery.


But Torres said he quickly volunteered to return because of the pressure he felt over being considered to be the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe.


After leaving the monastery for good when he turned 18, he spent a year in Canada followed by six months in Switzerland where he studied philosophy, human rights, art and French.


Torres, who said that for a time he lived at the monastery next to the cabin of actor Richard Gere, who he described as a "great guy, very nice", is now studying film in Madrid.


He said some aspects of life outside of the monastery really surprised him, such as seeing people kissing in public, and described the bewilderment he felt during his first visit to a nightclub.


"I was amazed to watch everyone dance. What were all those people doing, bouncing, stuck to one another, asphyxiated and enclosed in a box full of smoke? This is music? It sounds like noise. It hurts my ears. It seemed like the strangest thing in the world," he said.


"What is important for me now is to do something that makes me feel useful, to find a direction to put my energy," he added.


Asked if he would like to make a movie about his life, he said: "No, my life is too complicated to make a movie. They have proposed writing a biography about me but it would have to wait until after I die because some people would be scandalized."


The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since 1959, is the most famous of a lineage of reincarnated spiritual leaders.


The 73-year-old began a visit to Europe on Friday that will take in Denmark, Iceland, Poland, France and the Netherlands.

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank