Saturday, December 29, 2012

Is My Child A Living Buddha? (活佛)

I just received a very strange request from a friend to ask for help in identifying if his son is a “Living Buddha”or “Tulku”. Apparently he has gone through a few gurus or rinpoches but of no avail. But my personal advice is to give up the idea as there are already so many Tulkus around and now it is one a little too many. Just a few years back, I happened to watch a documentary about thousands of children sent to monastery by their parents waiting to be identified as Tulkus in Bhutan. Perhaps some are still waiting as of today. My take is why ruining the future of our younger generations just because of the title “Tulku”? And who is going to feed this Tulku? (Provided that the parents are super rich then pardon me)


I myself am not a proponent of Tulku system though I respect the right of these believers. The reason is that even a Tulku needs to learn as we all do, why give special status to just one single person? Why burden our economic system with another gold statue and not put this person also to work for the better of our economy?


In the 2009 documentary film Tulku, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche argues against the institutionalized Tulku system stating,


And now, I personally think that to hold that culture, institutionalized Tulku. That culture is dying; it’s not going to work anymore. And even if it… And if it doesn’t work, I think it’s almost for the better because this tulku, it’s going to… If the Tibetans are not careful, this Tulku system is going to ruin Buddhism. At the end of the day Buddhism is more important [than] Tulku system, who cares about Tulku... [and] what happens to them.


Additional information from Wiki:


“In Tibetan Buddhism, a tulku is someone who is recognized as the rebirth of a previous practitioner. High-profile examples include the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama and the Karmapa.


It has been estimated that as of 2012 there were about 500 tulkus across Tibet, although before the Chinese invasion there were probably a few thousand. Each tulku has a distinct lineage of rebirths. The vast majority of tulkus (and lamas) are men, although some are women.


The tulku incarnation lineage should not be confused with the lineage of Buddhist masters and their disciples, which is concerned with the oral or written transmission of particular Buddhist teachings and spiritual practice from generation to generation.”

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