Dalai Lama

Spiritual leader of the Buddhist community

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How is a Dalai Lama Chosen


After the death of a Dalai Lama it has traditionally been the responsibility of the High Lamas of the Gelugpa Tradition and the Tibetan government to find his reincarnation.

The High Lamas search for a boy who was born around the same time as the death of the Dalai Lama. It can take around two or three years to identify the Dalai Lama, and for the current, 14th Dalai Lama, it was four years before he was found.

There are several ways in which the High Lamas might find out where the next reincarnation will be found.

· Dream - One of the High Lamas may dream about some mark or location that will identify the boy.

· Smoke - If the previous Dalai Lama was cremated, High Lamas will watch the direction of the smoke and search accordingly.

· Oracle Lake - High Lamas go to a holy lake, called Lhamo Lhatso, in central Tibet and watch for a sign from the lake itself. This may be either a vision or some indication of the direction in which to search.The home and village of Tenzin Gyatso was identified in a vision from this lake.


Once the High Lamas have located the home and the boy, they present a number of artifacts which they have brought with them in preparation, to the child. Among these artifacts are a number of items that belonged to the deceased Dalai Lama. If the boy chooses the items that belonged to the previous Dalai Lama, this is seen as a sign, in conjunction with all of the other indications, that the boy is a reincarnation.