Yeshe was an extraordinary lama who had visited the United States in the seventies and was endearing to many of his western followers. Lama Yeshe created the Foundation for the Preservation of Tibetan Buddhism. He was known for his compassion and his simling face. He died of heart failure in 1984. A child was born a year later to a Buddhist convert from the west and he was named Osel. The child was recognized as a reincarnation of Lama Yeshe and sent to Monastery in India to be trained as a Lamas. At the age of eighteen Osel returned to the west and gave up his title of a Lama, desiring to live the life of a normal westerner.

The story of Osel has been discussed in the western media, including on the BBC. Tim McGirk, the news correspondent who brought out the story about young Osel in the late eighties has written a recent article about the many other Rinpoches who have given up their “birth” roles being reincarnations of Lamas from the past. In this article, he speaks of the lure of Samsara – the pleasures of the world, which even those trained in the monastery order are sometimes unable to cross over. This article even contains one intriguing story of Buddhism, Bollywood and the Bombay underworld intersecting. Most of this may not fit the contemporary idea of a reincarnation. Even those believing in rebirth have a concept that the interests and characteristics get exhibited life after life.

The concept of consciousness and reincarnation has been studied in the east for thousands of years. The lure of Samsara has been depicted through enchanting the stories of Rishis – those with an evolved state of consciousness- for example the popular story of Menaka, a celestial nymph, and Vishwamitra, a Rishi. Eastern traditions do not separate the mundane from the spiritual. The sensory pleasures of the world are there to be enjoyed. Spirituality creates caution about being entangled in them. Books such as the Yoga of Vasishta discuss the possibilities of rebirth and reincarnation in a comprehensive way. Everyone can gain some useful insights from these texts, especially those in the media. Flesh is alive when an energy powers it and when that moves on from the body what remains is dead matter. The energy in its subtlest form can come back to play!

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