The Search for Living Buddha

Updated: 2007-05-17 09:16

The Search for Living Buddha

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Please visite page 70-71ofThe Search for Living Buddha

There are presently more than one hundred Living Buddhas in Tibet. The well known Dalai and Panchen are the most superior Living Buddhas.

Tibetan Buddhists believe in the transmigration of the soul. A Living Buddha is considered a reincarnation of the Buddha. When a Living Buddha of a temple dies, the temple will search for his reincarnated soul, found usually in a young boy, who is then taken to the temple to succeed as a Living Buddha. (In some Tibetan monasteries there are also female living Buddhas whose reincarnated soul might be found in a young girl.)

The search for the reincarnated soul of the Living Buddha is based on various signs and other observances. For example, when a Living Buddha dies, people may find his reincarnated soul by looking in the direction he is facing upon his passing away.

The searchers for the late Living Buddha's reincarnated soul observe boys they think may have the reincarnated spirit and look for clues that may link them to the late Living Buddha or other unique features they may possess. It is said that the seventh Dalai Lama began to speak when he was only three months old. When people asked who he was, he replied, "I am the incarnation of Buddha." When people asked where he would go, he told people he would go to the monastery. When people asked him where the monastery was, he responded, "in the west." (Lhasa)

A Living Buddha's birth must also be prophesied by some abnormal natural phenomena. The searchers will ask the boy's family members and the people nearby whether there were premonitions before or after the birth of the boy. It is said that when the thirteenth Dalai was born, a ghee lamp (a Tibetan oil lamp) burst and the ghee spilt all around. In Tibet, this symbolizes good luck. More surprisingly, a big pear tree in front of his house blossomed, and a rainbow appeared over his house.

Tibetan Buddhists believe the reincarnated soul not only embodies the continuance of the late Living Buddha's spirit, but also inherits his doctrines so he can remember all the things he did and identify his old possessions. During the searching process, the searchers always bring out some authentic personal objects and some imitation ones used by the late Living Buddha and place them in front of the candidate. If the boy can correctly identify those things, the boy is regarded as the reincarnation of the late Living Bhudda.