Tibet and reincarnation

By Paulo Coelho

Upon being asked by the journalist Mick Brown, whether he was a reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lamas, the present Dalai Lama answered:

– This is a very complicated matter. Some people are reincarnated, others are merely symbols of the being they ceased to incarnate. Through my previous lives I believe I have strong ties with my people, and all my spiritual work manifests itself in that which I can do to bring back freedom to my country.

In other words: the Dalai Lama doesn’t answer ” yes” or ” no”. However, according to Tibetan Buddhist teachings, our subtle conscience – which exists in all human beings, but which is normally dormant – lives on after death. All the actions, gestures and intentions of the life which has just ended, are stored in this subtle conscience; and all this, after remaining in empty space for a time, ends up finding its physical form once again, in a new body.

The Tibetan people store in this subtle conscience (a variation of that which we know as soul) a cycle of behavior which will help in the next life. The more often one repeats the task, the stronger the mark it leaves behind will be – thus, religious rituals are almost daily.

Mick Brown says that our culture does not accept the idea that a subtle conscience can remain dematerialized in order to then manifest itself once again. However, Peter Kedge believes that the natural talents we see in certain children – such as a gift for music, or mathematics – are the results of a conscience which has lived before, and now manifests itself once again.

In Tibet, this conscience is not only deliberately developed, but when a master dies, he seeks to leave clues so that his next body can quickly be recognized.

One of the better-known recent cases is that of the Spanish boy, Osel, who is now 11 years old and lives in northern India. In 1935 the Lama Yeshe was born, who spent his life studying Tibetan mysticism, was exiled during the Chinese invasion and ended his days in California. On the day of his death, he called his favorite disciple and said that this time he would be reincarnated in the West. Some years passed, and the disciple dreamed about Yeshe, asking him to go and seek him.

Which is what he did: visiting the various monasteries founded by his master, he ended up in the town of Bubion, in southern Spain, where he found a boy who had been born on the exact day of his dream. He showed the boy a series of bells and counting beads; the boy, who was then 2, selected the very one which had belonged to the Lama Yeshe – and was proclaimed his reincarnation, and taken to a monastery in order to be educated according to Tibetan rituals.

The predecessor of the present Dalai Lama indicated where he would be reborn. Three or four years after his death, monks went to a village in eastern Tibet, and found a child who fitted the description. This child – the present Dalai Lama – was taken to the Potala palace, in Lhasa. As soon as he arrived, he began walking around the palace very naturally, and at a certain moment saw a box.

– My teeth are in there – he said.

And in fact, the box did indeed contain his predecessor’s false teeth.

There is a reason for the vague answer given by the Dalai Lama to journalist Mick Brown: all great Tibetan masters always leave similar clues to the above example, but it is impossible to verify or authenticate them outside their cultural context. This has resulted in a series of false masters popping up here and there around the planet, claiming to belong to a lineage of truly wise men, but whose single goal was to gather a group of disciples to contribute financially to their well-being.

The Dalai Lama’s brother, Tenzin Choegyal, says:

“As a Tibetan, I believe in the reincarnation of man. But the West only seems interested in the exotic side to our customs – the oracles, rituals and ceremonies. None of that has any importance: the highest ideal, the miracle of Buddhism, is to allow any human being with an empty heart to become a person filled with love and compassion.”

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  1. Caecilia says:

    I have recently seen a wall painting in Ancient Rome that is exactly the image of my face. Exactly. No doubt. So, my question is, can one be physically reincarnated? Or is it just the soul? If so, is this just coincidence?

  2. Jurian says:

    I also believe in re-incarnation.
    I feel I have been here before quite strongly and I have met some of you in the past already.
    Strange, hey?

  3. fLUXman says:

    bo0om paulo;,
    we are all but resonances of one fundamental vibration,
    let us reach in to feel the purity,
    every moment ,
    we reach a moment so pure,
    a gentle breeze ,
    and deja vu ,
    you feel you have been there before,
    the connection with your self,
    and …

  4. raj says:

    Reincarnation is a very interesting subject. Budhism,Hinduism and Sikh believe in the reincarnation. that ony the body die, while the eternal self / soul is immortal and indestructible. Souls are repeatedly reborn.
    Whatever have been created remain the same. so the souls always come back and get the new body according to their deeds on the previous life. The nature of souls is love, peace, bliss, pure.
    Best thing is always remain at your present state and focus on doing good acion in this life so we can enjoy our next life.
    Love all,

  5. aditya says:

    Hi !

    No one really dies. In our culture, the really cultured people, when speaking of someone’s death say ‘he has become paroksh’ paroksh is loosely translated as ‘not present'; around but not present, something like suppose a play is going on some stage, the actors who are not on stage remain behind the curtains, that is being in paroksh.

    Reincarnation is real, it indicates that the same souls inhibit the earth from time to time to ‘enjoy’ the various ‘realities’ the various times have to offer. it also indicates our progression spiritually across lives, finally culminating in our ability to remain with the eternal ‘now’, when one is in the present, one’s heart is empty which one can fill with love & compassion, out of free will, choice, out of love and compassion.

    amonst the physical entities, man is supposed to be most ‘aware’, most evolved. human population of the world is increasing, never before were so many humans present on this planet, does this indicate an increase in overall level of awareness of this whole system ?

  6. Agnieszka says:

    yes..definitely unexplainable things happen..
    you can do simple things, taking your mind out of something you don’t want to think about and…
    suddenly something unexpected shows up…something that doesn’t let you to forget..why? what is it? the energy, the higher conscious, coincidence??

  7. Tania says:

    I remember watching this movie ,I can not think of the name of it ,but it was very interesting -Buddhism holds a lot of memories for me ,I can recall very clearly a past life as a monk ,and I have had the privilege to have had a beautiful lady monk as one of my guides .I feel inclined to go to a retreat at some stage for a stay at one of the temples .
    Blessings Tania .The sound of the ancient bells allways stirs something in me .

  8. wanbliska says:

    The research of an incarnation in Tibet offers precise study.
    As for the Dalaí¯ lama, they asked oracle advises. Then, with theses answers, 3 lamas leave the Potala. And, following their vision, they reach the house of the new Dalaí¯.

    They took it from the family. But though it could bring sorrow, it’s better an honour, thanks to their culture.
    Ideed, the young incarnation recognizes the places he leaved before. As for our actual one, he talked also about a room that had been condemned. He described easily and without ask, what it was for, before.

    Series of test are then practised with the young boy. He had to take one object that belonged to the Holiness, among three or four. A bowl, a umbrella.
    The new incarnation, -and it’s valid for all of us-, must have patches, venus or even scars of his last life.
    He must pass all the tests without one single failure.

    The 14th Dalaí¯ Lama, -the actual- asked scientists to work about the conscience. When does it enter into the body exactly? He may know the answer.
    How surprise it is that man does a such thing. Maybe monotheistic culture seem to need proof. It’s true that reincarnation is generally not accepted in it, though some verses of the Bible are tendentious, regard to the subject.

    Dalaí¯ Lama expressed himself in conferences, about the likeness between The Book and the science of Bouddhism. As it is indeed very detailed.

    As to Hindouism, that science, pretends Jesus as Krishna avatar. Then we have to think what was the opinion of Jesus about the question? Apostles wrote also some sentences that could be interpreted as a life after the life. And the sacrifice of Him would be firstly to show we don’t have to fear death…
    Still the verb: ” I’ve so much things to tell you”…

    Here in France, our blood is following the rivers of citizen man that changed mind. To get more peace. They are our anchor.
    They did not inevitably do it by wisdom or non violence.
    Revolutions killed people, that’s true. Some others were brilliant, and never spoured out the red water of bodies and bodies.
    La Fontaine told, showing his nib: “watch out that venom”.
    Here, Christ is ingrain Hearts and Spirits. Even if french pride would like to hide to anyone of them, and anyone abroad.

    That’s why Dalaí¯ Lama should be patient to expand more the ideas about reincarnation, love and wisdom here. We’re here, citizens, uncapable to follow our heart, out of Human’s Rights, as well.
    Yet, being lambs would be very difficult to us, as we will be always unconsciously frightened by the concept, that becoming wise would be an artefact of disguised power.
    Earth is getting worse and worse. Blessings on Her. Human beings are more and more lost.
    Horrors grows everywhere, and we are not monks. We are in a world as children. Where we hear everywhere: “It’s not as worse as before”…

    We have to be in love, and be in compassion. But we don’t have to accept the unacceptable. A child say how to say no. A grow-up, the way to tell it.
    But City-ZEN is perhaps not an adequate word for now.


  9. Clover says:

    Loved these stories, so cute. I think the West is gradually opening up to these concepts of reincarnation, karma, etc. Just we barely heard of them growing up but I see that changing all over.

    Free tibet!!!!!!!!



  10. Spillay says:

    As a Hindu, I too believe in the concept of reincarnation. Have always. Great post!

  11. carmen says:

    PAZ y AMOR

  12. Willemina says:

    I have been reading a book written by an American psiquiatrist abiut Dalai Lama’s teachings for happiness, The art of happiness. Long ago I started feeling curiosity about budhism teachings, on one side because I admire the art of the temples, their simplicity and the location, high in the mountains far away from the noise of the world. I have beleived almost all my life in re encarnation, As I understand that our souls are made of energy, pure energy, and as physics say that energy is never destroyed, then it has to go somewhere else to fullfil some kind of mision.

    So, being raised in catolicism, my spiritual leader thought I was krazy when I questioned him about death and where are all the souls of the dead people stored? in a limbo? for 2000 years or more? how big should this storage be? And what a waist of energy…

    From then on I started to believe that at some point this energy and the accumulated knowledge shoud be recicled, for so to say, and come back to the world to keep the cycle of renewal of life.

    On the other hand, I admire their capacity of bringning themselves into a state of pure and uncorrupted love. Where all beings have theirs space and worthiness as living creatures.

    I respect budhists a lot. I wish I could some day meet the dalai Lama and just be able to tell him this, that I respect their believes and that I admire them in their strenght to continue thier story despite all violence around them.

  13. Ya conocí­a la historia del Dalai Lama y el niño español, es precioso esto, que sepan reconocer las pertenencias entre un montón de objetos.
    Si todos reencarnamos, todos habremos sido alguien en el pasado pero lo más importante es lo que somos ahora a pesar de no ser personas famosas.
    Apoyo desde aquí­ al Dalai Lama que lucha por la libertad en el Tibet, se por las noticias que Sarcozi no irá a los juegos olí­mpicos si no termina la violencia ¡Ojalá! todos los pueblos apoyen esta propuesta y se de fin a la violencia contra los monjes del Tibet.
    Free Tibet.

  14. Agnieszka says:

    There’s something about this…subconscious that intrigues me.
    I am not sure what it is, but somehow..I feel..like it’s a part of me that is waiting to be revealed.
    I always felt this way, even as a child I had moments, flashes(?) when I knew what’s going to happen the next day. Strange..yes. Sometimes it scared me, sometimes fascinated me. My dreams.., even those from the childhood were becoming reality, one by one. I still have moments when I can sense what may happen. Hmm…maybe there’s something in this…reincarnation thing, “the unexpected is always upon us”.
    We don’t always pay attention, or maybe…we don’t always want to believe in what we…sense or feel, because it’s..the unknown, the irrational part..of us, of..universe?, and how we can rely on something that..might be imaginary?

    How can you build the castles in the sky?

    Still…I feel.. that a person filled with love and compassion as it is written at the end,…can sense..the unknown.
    Yes…the heart filled with love can do magic.
    Hmm…I hope.:-)