The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

EVOLUTION, KARMA, AND REBIRTH 103Albert Einstein said:A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," apart limited in time and space. He experiences himself, histhoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—akind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is akind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and toaffection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to freeourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion toembrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty 24REINCARNATIONS IN TIBETThose who master the law of karma and achieve realizationcan choose to return in life after life to help others. In Tibet atradition of recognizing such incarnations or tulkus began in thethirteenth century and continues to the present day. When arealized master dies, he (or she) may leave precise indicationsof where he will be reborn. One of his closest disciples or spiritualfriends may then have a vision or dream foretelling hisimminent rebirth. In some cases his former disciples mightapproach a master known and revered for having the ability torecognize tulkus, and this master might have a dream or visionthat would enable him to direct the search for the tulku. Whena child is found, it will be this master who authenticates him.The true purpose of this tradition is to ensure that the wisdommemory of realized masters is not lost. The most importantfeature of the life of an incarnation is that in the course oftraining, his or her original nature—the wisdom memory theincarnation has inherited—awakens, and this is the true signof his or her authenticity. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, forexample, admits he was able to understand at an early age,without much difficulty, aspects of Buddhist philosophy andteaching that are difficult to grasp, and usually take manyyears to master.Great care is taken in the upbringing of tulkus. Even beforetheir training begins, their parents are instructed to take specialcare of them. Their training is much more strict and intensive thanthat of ordinary monks, for so much more is expected of them.Sometimes they remember their past lives or demonstrateremarkable abilities. As the Dalai Lama says: "It is commonfor small children who are reincarnations to remember objectsand people from their previous lives. Some can also recitescriptures, although they have not yet been taught them." 25

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