Monday, June 15, 2009

About Osel Hita

Referring to the response below from FPMT after the interview with Lama Osel (the recognised tulku of the late Lama Yeshe) in which he was supposedly misquoted came out in the media. Various headlines appeared in the press. Some portrayed Lama Osel was a miserable youth forced into Tibetan education and portrayed him as possibly wrongly chosen by HH the Dalai Lama. The result of the press was serious enough for the FPMT to respond and put up Lama Osel’s message in the FPMT website and send out the below email blast to everyone in their list. The “misquote” was then clarified but it had already created a widespread consequences. Many people are already believing that perhaps he was wrongly chosen, or that he was forced into believing who he was not, or that he was forced into studying traditional Tibetan Buddhist education (when he could have been given just western education). These and many other speculations are already spawning various misconceptions circulating the globe, more so in internet forums and chat rooms around the world wide web. I would like to offer my explanation on how a recognised reincarnation could possibly not recognize himself as such.

From: "Doris Low"
Dear FPMT family,
Many of you by now may have seen the recent article about Osel Hita in "The Guardian" newspaper, which has circulated to other media.
As his comments have been taken out of context, Osel has issued a letter in response to the press. This can be viewed on the Osel page of the FPMT website at
http://www.fpmt. org/teachers/ osel/.
You can also read more comments that have been posted on Wisdom Publications' blog site, which has a link to the original article printed with Osel’s contribution (and in English and Spanish language) in the magazine, "Babylon" at http://gobeyondword s.wordpress. com/2009/ 06/02/tempest- in-a-teapot/ .
We hope this helps to clear any misunderstanding, and if anyone were to ask you or your center about this matter, please refer him/her to the FPMT website.
It may also be timely to update the information posted on Osel by your center, study group or project. Please use as basis his messages in the FPMT Handbook and FPMT Annual Review, and Peter Kedge’s update on his activities reported in Day 1 of the CPMT Minutes, found in the FPMT general site or Members Area.
Thank you.
Doris Low
Centre Services Director
FPMT International Office

One of the comments made in the Buddhist forums is that for centuries, the Tibetan Buddhist ways remain unchanged and it changed only after Tibet was invaded by China and many Tibetan lamas got out of their “shell”. And because of this, many Tibetan Buddhist teachings had been adapted to fit into the western mentality. Yes, I do agree that the teachings had been somewhat “adapted”, but not only to the western world, but to the rest of the world as well. If the Tibetan lamas did not adapt the way it was taught in Tibet with the outside world, then many Tibetan Buddhist teaching will just disappear. Many practices and initiations were made more flexible and transmitted without those "ancient" preconditions. But there are consequences of doing this, which the lamas are very well aware of when these preconditions were relaxed. Without some of these stricter conditions, especially proper mental precondition, there will be hardly any realisations at all. It will be very difficult to gain any attainments once you relax certain conditions. That is why when tulkus are exposed to the Tibetan Buddhist curricular, it is not a matter of choosing Tibetan traditional education over western education.


Western education ...and for that matter, even most Asian education don't prepare one to gain realisations. They are just worldly education. BUT THE BUDDHIST LAM RIM EDUCATION CURRICULUM DOES! The curriculum is such that by the time the student graduates, he/she will have gained the realisations of the three principle aspects of the path... or at least, portions of the realisations. Mind you, IT IS NOT KNOWLEDGE. I am speaking of a certain precondition of the mind. Without gaining this, the subsequent path will be difficult. So, exposing Lama Osel to the traditional education was still the right thing to do. But of course, exposing him to western education was also the right too since he is a western boy in the present reincarnation. With both types of education, he will benefit much more sentient beings than if he were to be exposed to only one type of education. But whether he successfully gained those "realisations" from the traditional Buddhist education or not is another thing. What people don't realise is that even though you may have gained a certain level of "enlightenment" in your previous life, it does not automatically carry over to the next life. Yes, it is still somewhere in the mind but ... don't forget you have a different body, different brain. The present physical brain does not carry over the knowledge of the previous life's knowledge. You need to re-learn. That was why even Prince Siddharta had to re-learn and re-kindle his wisdom in his human body... even though the Mahayana does talk about him being the manifestation of the eternal life Tathagata. When the body is still young, some aspects of the “enlightened nature” of the person may be more obvious than when he gets older. At other times, throughout his life, sometimes “sparks” that reminds either himself or those around him of his “enlightened nature” may present itself. However, by and large, these “sparks” or “symptoms of previous cultivation” are not that frequent. The education he receives during the nurturing period is very crucial to re-learn and rekindle the previous wisdom of his actual nature. By nurturing period, it is usually the period of education received before one turns 20 years old. The people around the tulku must provide him with the proper education that will quickly enable him to nurture the seeds of enlightenment that are already inside his mind, but not yet in his brain. So, a lot of exposure to the spiritual way of life and how a person can actually gain liberation from samsara is of utmost importance. Otherwise, the seeds of enlightenment in his mind will remain dormant and his present life will be “wasted” until another life where something awakens it. It’s not always a matter of "play acting" by the tulkus although at most times it may be.

In other words, the conventional truth still must be respected and plays a dynamic role together with the ultimate truth. So...Lama Osel may be the reincarnation of the Great Lama Yeshe, but the conventional truth of his new body (new brains) must be treated as if he is a separate person. After a certain age, he may not actually remember any of his past life until he "re-kindles" them back. But some aspects of his "attainment" will appear from time to time. So long as you are aware of the dynamics of reality, you won’t be shocked or surprised by how things turn out with the tulkus. And that's the reality of things... as well as my two cents worth of opinion.
In the meantime, let's not be too quick to judge Osel Hita yet. Whatever he does with his life, let's just pray for him every success in life. We cannot put our expectations on him to be the same as the previous reincarnation. If that's the case, we will sure be disappointed. If we have any respect for Lama Yeshe, we should give him the same training as we would anyone else striving for enlightenment. And then leave the rest to him.
I will end with this message:
"If Buddhas or Bodhisattvas fail to benefit sentient beings, it is definitely due to sentient beings' karma."
We hope that our own karma is good enough to receive blesings from the activities of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
pic above of Osel Hita taken from

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