An extraordinary Rinpoche lama visited the United States in the seventies. Lama Yeshe was endearing to many of his western followers. He created the Foundation for the Preservation of Tibetan Buddhism. Compassion and smile on his face were his traits. Unfortunately, he died of heart failure in 1984. A year later, Buddhist parents in the west gave birth to baby Osel. Soon, the practicing Buddhists in the town recognized Osel as a reincarnation of Lama Yeshe. Consequently, his parents sent him to a Monastery in India for formal training in the ways of Lamas. Later, Osel returned to the west, gave up his title of Lama, and decided to live the life of a normal westerner.
Western Media and Reincarnation
Western Media went crazy over the story of Osel (link to discussions on BBC). Tim McGirk, the news correspondent who brought out the story in the late eighties wrote an article. In his article Tim lists many other Rinpoche Lamas who have given up their entitled “birth” roles. Certainly, they were Lamas in their past life. Tim’s article refers to the lure of Samsara – the pleasures of the world, which even those trained in a monastery are unable to resist. Besides, this article contains several intriguing stories, including one intersecting Buddhism, Bollywood and the Bombay underworld. This breaks the new-age myth that a reincarnated person must exhibit similar interests and characteristics life after life.
Reincarnation in Eastern traditions
Philosophers in the East studied the concept of consciousness and reincarnation for thousands of years. Therefore, they noticed the overpowering nature of Samsara overpowers even an evolved person. The story of Menaka, a celestial nymph, and Vishwamitra, a Rishi is a good illustration.
Eastern traditions do not demarcate the mundane and the spiritual. The sensory pleasures belong to life on Earth. Eastern spirituality merely cautions about getting entangled in pleasures. Books such as the Yoga of Vasishta explore rebirth and reincarnation topics in a comprehensive way. Everyone can gain useful insights from these texts, especially.