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Reincarnation System

Reincarnation system refers to the reincarnation system of Living Buddhas. It is the specific succession system of religious leaders. There was no Living Buddha in Buddhism originally, as there is no such parlance in the Buddhism of India and Han area where the succession system is carried out between masters and disciples. The Kagyupa sect of the Tibetan Buddhism first adopted the reincarnation system of Living Buddhas. Then the Gelugpa sect adopted it since its monks were forbidden to be in marriage and have children. In the regions where the Tibetan Buddhism is popular, there are numerous Living Buddhas who can be assigned to the large, middle and small ranks. There are Living Buddhas even in the Han, the Mongolian and Tu nationalities, etc.

The theoretical basis of the reincarnation system of Living Buddhas includes the imperishable soul and the eternal cycle of birth and death. Disciples deem as follows: Living Buddha is just the flesh form of the Supreme Master. After the death of the Living Buddha, the superiors of the monastery use augury and other rites to look for several babies who are born at the same time when the Living Buddha passes away, then one of the babies is selected as the reincarnation of the Buddha, and welcomed back to the monastery to succeed the religious status of the Living Buddha.

There are two systems of Living Buddhas, one is the system of the three monasteries in Lhasa City; the other one is the system of the Tashilumpo Monastery in Shigatse Area. The well known Dalai and Panchen are the most superior Living Buddhas of the two systems respectively.

Common Living Buddhas can be divided into two kinds, one is for the whole monastery, and the other is for the Dratsang. Every Living Buddha has his own administration institution called as Larang (Lama Mansion).

The Search for the Reincarnated Soul Boy

The search for the reincarnated soul boy is to find the reincarnated soul boy based on various principles as the references. Generally speaking, there are the following four ways:

(1) Testament

Some great Living Buddhas always left testaments before death in the Tibetan Buddhism, especially the Living Buddhas of the Kagyupa sect. The testament of dead Living Buddha includes some hints, and then his disciples try to analyze and reason out such hints, including the hints related to the direction and the scenery around.

(2) Oracle

The Tibetan Buddhism adopted some wizard components from the aboriginal Bon religion; oracle is one of them. Oracle is also called as spirit rapping, which means that deity attaches himself to human body to tell his decree. The spirit rapping can point out the direction to look for the reincarnated soul boy, even the names of his parents. Especially, the Gelugpa always use this method to find the reincarnated soul boy.

(3) Divination

In general, this is an auxiliary method used by accomplished monk to decide the direction of the birthplace of the reincarnated soul boy. The results of divination are always used to verify the results of the spirit rapping in order to increase reliability.

(4) Observing the lake

It is also an auxiliary method. In general, the results of spirit rapping or divination by accomplished monk can only indicate the approximate direction of birthplace and concrete Earthly Branch (animal name used to symbolize the year in which a person is born) of the reincarnated soul boy. So there are always many soul boys with the same Earthly Branch and in the same direction. In this case, the most effective method is to observe the oracle Lhamo Latso Lake (located in the Jiazha county of the southern area in Tibet). This lake is regarded as the oracle lake that can show prophetic visions of the concrete birthplace of the soul boy if the searchers are pious in praying.

It is said that after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama, in the process of searching for his reincarnated soul boy, Living Buddha Rezhen spotted from the vision shown by the lake the following scene: there is a farm house at the end of a road with a big tree standing in front of the gate and a white horse tied to the gate of the house. A woman stands under the tree with a boy in her arms. With the lake's revelation, people then accordingly found the later 14th Dalai Lama at Qijiachuan, 20 kilometers away from Qinghai Province.

Affirmation of Reincarnated Soul Boy

This is a complex and strict process that must accord with the following principles:

(1) Observe the soul boy's appearance, behavior and the way he speaks

The searchers observe the qualified soul boys and find out the clues related to the Living Buddha of the pre-life or the unique features presented. For example, the famous 7th Dalai Lama was born in Litang. It is said that he began to speak and do the action of touching the heads of people when he was only three months old. When people asked who he was, he replied, I am the incarnation of Buddha; when people asked where he would go, he told people he would go to the monastery; when people asked him where the monastery was, he responded, in the west (i.e. Lhasa City).

There were many such examples. These abilities and features appear when the soul boy is only still an infant, so they are regarded as the important references to verify the reincarnated soul boy, and they are also the important processes during the search works.

(2) Premonition and dream appeared when the soul boy is born.

According to the doctrines of the Tibetan Buddhism, there must have appeared some abnormal natural phenomena when a Living Buddha or an accomplished monk is born, so the searchers will ask the boy's family members and the people nearby whether there are premonitions before or after the birth of the soul boy. It is said that when the 13th Dalai was born, a steamed and stuffed ghee bun burst and the ghee spilt around, which symbolized luck. In addition, one big pear tree among the several pear trees in front of his house became fully blossomed, and the rainbow over his house was just like an installed tabernacle.

(3) Let the candidates of the reincarnated soul boys identify the personal items used by the Living Buddha in prelife.

According to the doctrines of the Tibetan Buddhism, the reincarnated soul boy not only embodies the continuance of spirit of prelife Living Buddha, but also inherits the spiritualism of his prelife. So he can remember all things of his prelife and identify what he had used in prelife. During the search process, the searchers always bring out some true items and some imitated ones of the personal objects used by the prelife Living Buddha and place them in front of the candidate. If the candidate boy could correctly identify those things, the boy was regarded as the reincarnated soul boy. For example, there were totally four candidates when the searcher Subenkanbu (conversant acolyte of the 6th Panchen) of Tashilumpo Monastery was looking for the reincarnated soul boy of the 6th Panchen. The searcher went to the households of the four candidates for public and private investigation. He also took out the teacup, bell, pestle, prayer beads and some other things once used by the 6th Panchen for the soul boys to pick out by themselves. Finally, all the items picked out by the soul boy from the Xiongxika village (in Bailang County of Shigatse Area) were those once used by the 6th Panchen. So Subenkanbu affirmed that this boy was just the reincarnated soul boy of the 6th Panchen.

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