Dalai Lama as a Baby

As we embrace the teachings of the Dalai Lama and celebrate his contributions to peace in the world, shouldn’t we also consider how he became the Dalai Lama in the first place? And, on what authority does he claim “holiness”?

Every religion has the right to select its leaders by any chosen means. In the Catholic Church the Pope rises through the ranks and is elected at a conclave of Cardinals. The Pope’s authority is derived from the papal lineage back to Peter. Thus is his claim to holiness.

In Buddhism the Dalai Lama isn’t chosen. He is found. When a Dalai Lama dies the smoke from the cremation is believed to reveal the direction where the High Lamas should search for the boy into whom the Dalai Lama has reincarnated. The search can take years. Candidate boys must pass a series of tests, including identifying possessions of the deceased Dali Lama from among a variety of objects.

When the current Dalai Lama, born as Lhamo Thondup, was found in 1940 he was taken from his family and brought to a monastery to study. He is the 14th Dalai Lama since the original Dalai Lama, born in 1391. Reincarnation is the source of his claim to holiness.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1808 when considering the origin and nature of meteorites “A thousand phenomena present themselves daily which we cannot explain, but where facts are suggested, bearing no analogy with the laws of nature as yet known to us, their verity needs proofs proportioned to their difficulty.”

Carl Sagan famously put it more succinctly: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

As the Dalai Lama endorses greater scientific inquiry into mindfulness meditation, he inevitably must confront Sagan’s Standard. If we are to accept the Dalai Lama’s claim to holiness, we must also accept the reincarnation as a real phenomenon. We must also accept that there is some science behind all the ritual that has been used to find each successor Dalai Lama. All that requires some mighty evidence.

On the other hand deep mindfulness meditation is supported by mounds of scientific evidence. It’s a natural ability that anyone can learn with or without religion. Early Hindus and Buddhists happened to be among the first to tap into the benefits. Over the centuries they have cloaked it in ritual and dogma. When you unpack their traditions, it’s easy to find a more direct route.

The guided instruction in the EM Brain Power Course is one such way to learn.

©2015-2024 Emergent Meditation


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?