The Chosen Lama Leaves the Fold June 9, 2009

The Chosen Lama Leaves the Fold

You may have already heard the story of 24-year-old Tenzin Osel Rinpoche, who was tapped as a reincarnation of a high Tibetan Buddhist Lama (a.k.a. tulku) at the age of four.

Rinpoche has since left his Tibetan university and may not even consider himself a Buddhist.

Reader Jeff points out his favorite part of the Time article:

The monks try to pick the bright and promising children, [New York Buddhist Josh Baran] says; but Tibetans also assume the weeding-out function of the extensive tulku education: “no matter who they pick, the best and the brightest will surface in the course of the process.”

Looks to me that he surfaced as one of the brightest, although I’m guessing the Buddhists disagree.

Talk about abandoning your faith… that’s impressive. Good for him for leaving the fold.

If he can do it, surely those atheists who are still in the closet can come out and forge their own path.

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  • peregrine

    One of my favorite quotes from The Buddha is “Believe nothing, no matter who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.” (I’m going from memory, so it might not be exact, but it’s close enough).

    He left his faith for his own reasons. He chose his own path. He pretty much did exactly what The Buddha would have told him to do. I would hope that his former colleagues can appreciate that.

  • Mountain Humanist

    I hope that readers realize that the Tibetan schools of Buddhism do not represent the entire system (be it a religion or — as I think — a philosophy). I have found many useful tools for living within the framework of Buddhism (like meditation in Zen) that do not rely on supernatural concepts. Sometimes, when I read the works of certain Buddhists “leaders” I get the impression that they realize the supernatural stuff isn’t real and that they “believe” in it with a wink and a nod — as a sort of mythical framework for making real-world application. Just a thought.

  • Jeff Satterley

    @Mountain Humanist

    From the article:

    “I was taken away from my family and put in a medieval situation in which I suffered a lot. It was like living a lie.”

    I’m not concerned with the religion/philosophy distinction, or their beliefs in the supernatural concepts. Being taken from your family and made to suffer because of a belief system makes it a bad system.

  • @Jeff Satterly

    Re-read Mountain’s comment. He did not say Tibetan Buddhism is not a bad system. I agree with him, certain forms of Buddhism are essentially just a philosophy with some structure and organization, and they happen to have some good ideas. I mean, strip away the supernatural garbage from a lot of religions and you’ll likely find a few gems of wisdom left, I just happen to think Buddhism is a little more appealing in this regard than most other religions. I mean, Zen monasteries have been known to regularly burn all of their books to avoid dogma. How can you not respect that?

    The Tibetan stuff does not fall into that category, and they clearly buy into the supernatural garbage like reincarnation, etc.

  • Thilina

    when I read the works of certain Buddhists “leaders” I get the impression that they realize the supernatural stuff isn’t real and that they “believe” in it with a wink and a nod

    While this is true of most Buddhist writes (at least the famous ones – cause the other ones would never make it to western book shelf’s), this isn’t as true of the followers and even most of the monks (I’m speaking of the form of Buddhism i grew up around, which was very similar to that of the Tibetan monks).

    Specially when it comes to the superstition – like reincarnation, and the existence of the soul, etc.- . And its one of the reasons i don’t believe in it anymore. I like the teachings of Buddha, but the religion of Buddhism is very unlike his teachings (but not in a dangerous way) (in my opinion).

  • Siamang
  • FWIW, the Thurman quoted is the father of Uma Thurman – that’s how she came to be named after a Himayalan goddess.

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