Dalai Lama

I wrote recently about reincarnation and how many people believe that some part of us persists beyond death either in some afterlife or to be reborn. I thought I would write about the Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who it’s thought has a very interesting relationship with reincarnation.

Avalokiteśvara is an important deity in Tibetan Buddhism. It is been widely believed by Buddhists that for the last millennium Avalokiteśvara has had a special relationship with Tibet and has intervened in it’s fate. Specifically, Avalokiteśvara has reincarnated as early Tibetan kings and emperors and more recently Dalai Lamas.

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So rather than being the reincarnation of just anyone, the current Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of the same being who has been reborn many, many times to perform the same role. There has been a total of fourteen recognised incarnations of the Dalai Lama starting with Gedun Drupa (1391–1474) all the way up to the current one, Tenzin Gyatso, who was born in 1935.

Phowa is a tantric practice found in both Hinduism and Buddhism for the “transference of consciousness at the time of death”. It is believed to transfer the mind stream to the intended (future) body. And it is believed that with this method that the Dalai Lama reincarnates. As he said, “Death means change our clothes. Clothes become old, then time to come change. So this body become old, and then time come, take young body”.

Upon the death of the Dalai Lama a search for the Lama’s reincarnation (yangsi), is conducted. The new Dalai Lama is born soon after the death of the old one and the search usually takes several years. For example, the current Dalai Lama (the 14th) was born in July 1935 and was identified in 1939. The previous Dalai Lama died in December 1933.

It is very unusual for someone to always play the same role in all of their lives. It is believed that the soul is on a journey to experience many different situations and learn all it needs to achieve some form of higher state or enlightenment. An explanation of this, in the case of the Dalai Lama, is that it is believed that the being that is reincarnated is thought to be a deity.

One notable other example of someone living the same sort of life over and over is General George Patton (1885 – 1945). He was a general in the United States Army and commanded the Seventh United States Army in the Mediterranean theatre of World War II and the Third United States Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion. Patton strongly believed he had many past lives and always as a warrior. He is said to have had visions of previous lives as a hunter-gatherer searching for mammoth as well as historic battles, including the Greco-Persian Wars (499-449 BC), Siege of Tyre (332 BC), Roman–Parthian Wars (54 BC – 217 AD), Battle of Crécy (1346), and Battle of Waterloo (1815).  He concludes that he was an instrument of God, eternally betrothed to combat. 

If you are interested in past lives or would like to know more, then contact me.

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