Boy Chosen By Dalai Lama Turns Back on Buddhist Order

From The Guardian:

As a toddler, he was put on a throne and worshipped by monks who treated him like a god. But the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of a spiritual leader has caused consternation – and some embarrassment – for Tibetan Buddhists by turning his back on the order that had such high hopes for him.

Instead of leading a monastic life, Osel Hita Torres now sports baggy trousers and long hair, and is more likely to quote Jimi Hendrix than Buddha.

Yesterday he bemoaned the misery of a youth deprived of television, football and girls. Movies were also forbidden – except for a sanctioned screening of The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy, about a kidnapped child lama with magical powers. “I never felt like that boy,” he said.

He is now studying film in Madrid and has denounced the Buddhist order that elevated him to guru status. “They took me away from my family and stuck me in a medieval situation in which I suffered a great deal,” said Torres, 24, describing how he was whisked from obscurity in Granada to a monastery in southern India. “It was like living a lie,” he told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. Despite his rebelliousness, he is still known as Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche and revered by the Buddhist community. A prayer for his “long life” still adorns the website of the Foundation to Preserve the Mahayana Tradition, which has 130 centres around the world. The website features a biography of the renegade guru that gushes about his peaceful, meditative countenance as a baby. In Tibetan Buddhism, a lama is one of a lineage of reincarnated spiritual leaders, the most famous of which is the Dalai Lama.


  1. Sounds about right. They don’t mention Jesus’ from 12 to 30 for a reason.

    I can’t imagine the pressure of being the next Lama.

    I might go read some reviews about Anne Rice’s book on the lost years of Jesus. I’m hoping they’re sacritastic!

  2. Seth – have you read Lamb by Christopher Moore – it’s a good funny read of Jesus’ lost years as told by his best friend Biff.

  3. Love this boy’s story. At least Buddhism doesn’t punish him for this decision or make him believe he will spend an eternal life in hell for it.

    Reminds me of a story about Amish kids who apparently often have a “wild phase” as well (but often return, too).

  4. Buddhism – as a nondogmatic philosophy – has never fit into the category of religion. However, there are these little Buddhist groups like the tibetans and pure land chinese that just can’t resist incorporating religious structures into it. something for everyone. I don’t take this as a criticism of Buddhism, however. As an atheist, recovering xtian, and soto zen inclined Buddhist I wish the lad well.

  5. But when Osel dies, on his deathbed, he will receive total consciousness. So he’s got that goin’ for him, which is nice. 😉

  6. An enlightment(or a sophistication of the soul) is something one cannot just achieve from being chosen to be a spiritual leader, but at least this boy has a good chance to become one in the future as he has gotten once involved in the religion, he just needs more experience to grow up. I cannot wait to see what happens 20 years from now…there’s a possibility that he goes back to Tibet. He’d suffer more rejecting and talking bad about the religion, as the temple never really treated him bad, on the contrary treated him like a god! How funny and interesting this situation is…

  7. The Guardian seem to have chosen some quite misleading words eg ‘denounced’, ‘turning his back’ when compared to this interview’s quotes:

    Who know perhaps the carelessness of the Guardian is just because they are not crash hot at translating from the original el mundo article?

  8. cornucopia is right, in his own letter Osel guy says, “However, certain media find ways to sensationalize and exaggerate an unusual story. So I hope that what appears in news print is not read and taken too literally. Don’t believe everything that is written! ”
    –This Guardian article exactly is an exaggeration!
    Besides, I think there’s nothing wrong about how he dresses and what music he listens, the paper doesn’t need to make it sound like a crime whatever he’s doing.

Comments are closed.