Sunday, July 31, 2011

Boy chosen by Dalai Lama turns back on Buddhist

    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?" 
    Also see: A letter from Osel:

    Excerpts from Reborn in the West - Part V

    by Vicki Mackenzie    
    However, when Maria heard her son's cries, with the boldness which characterized the other facets of her life she promptly flew into Sera, gathered Osel up and, without further ado, swiftly took him back to Spain. To say that the abbot of Sera and the rest of the monks were flabbergasted would be an understatement. It was an unprecedented move, unheard of in Tibetan history, and one that would only be performed by a European woman of particularly strong character. To lose their famous tulku was a terrible blow which cut them all deeply. The dramatic departure also created considerable shock waves among the Westerners who learned the news. What was going to happen now? What of the great scheme that had been envisaged for Lama Osel and his work in the future? Was he truly the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe, or had it all been a terrible mistake?
    I found him in the family house (extended now to cater for the ever-growing numbers), playing with his younger brothers. His hair was still very short, but he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt–a somewhat startling sight after years of seeing him in robes. His spirits were as high as ever as he cajoled his brothers to sneak up on me, but his face looked drawn and he had heavy rings under his eyes. He didn't seem particularly happy. Maria appeared and we went to have a coffee and talk about what had happened.
    'For me it was very obvious that something was wrong, and I couldn't sit back without anything being done,' she explained. 'I went to Sera last year, in 1992, to check out Lama's situation. I was delighted by some things I saw, but disturbed by others. Even then he had a lot of anxiety, because there were so many things he wanted to do, new things, and yet he was restricted. The fears I had about the formal Tibetan education were coming true. I felt that Lama was being continually frustrated, that the tulku education system was subduing Lama's will but not fulfilling Lama's personality. 'He was bored with the memorization process that Tibetan Buddhism requires for the first few years. He wants to understand through reason and stimulation. More importantly, he was beginning to reject wearing robes, saying prayers and being a lama. I believe these were violent reactions to a situation that was making him unhappy,' she continued. 'What shocked me most, however, was Lama's behaviour. Because he was miserable and frustrated, he was developing a tyrannical ego, wasn't able to share with others and was becoming very self-centred. This, I think, is partly to do with the tulku training centre, where they school the child to be the centre of attention and apart from other children. But it is also partly to do with Lama's Western disciples who have not been taught how to treat him. So often they give and give–anything he wants–lust to win his love and approval. They give in order to get. It's not good for him. It's also made him confused and unhappy.'
    Entire article here:

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