Albert Einstein said:


A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a

part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his

thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a

kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a

kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to

affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free

ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to

embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty 24


Those who master the law of karma and achieve realization

can choose to return in life after life to help others. In Tibet a

tradition of recognizing such incarnations or tulkus began in the

thirteenth century and continues to the present day. When a

realized master dies, he (or she) may leave precise indications

of where he will be reborn. One of his closest disciples or spiritual

friends may then have a vision or dream foretelling his

imminent rebirth. In some cases his former disciples might

approach a master known and revered for having the ability to

recognize tulkus, and this master might have a dream or vision

that would enable him to direct the search for the tulku. When

a child is found, it will be this master who authenticates him.

The true purpose of this tradition is to ensure that the wisdom

memory of realized masters is not lost. The most important

feature of the life of an incarnation is that in the course of

training, his or her original nature—the wisdom memory the

incarnation has inherited—awakens, and this is the true sign

of his or her authenticity. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for

example, admits he was able to understand at an early age,

without much difficulty, aspects of Buddhist philosophy and

teaching that are difficult to grasp, and usually take many

years to master.

Great care is taken in the upbringing of tulkus. Even before

their training begins, their parents are instructed to take special

care of them. Their training is much more strict and intensive than

that of ordinary monks, for so much more is expected of them.

Sometimes they remember their past lives or demonstrate

remarkable abilities. As the Dalai Lama says: "It is common

for small children who are reincarnations to remember objects

and people from their previous lives. Some can also recite

scriptures, although they have not yet been taught them." 25

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