recess radio program

The Dalai Lama
    by John Cech (Read by Jaimy Mann)

Few cultures have been so fervently dedicated to the discovery of a miracle child as that of traditional Tibet. The fourteenth Dalai Lama was one of those remarkable, "chosen" children whose long lineage stretches back to Prince Siddhartha, the historical Buddha, who was born in 563 B.C.E. in Zambudippa, the land of the roseapple tree. These children are believed to be reincarnations of holy individuals -- Old Souls -- who cary an awareness of their previous lives into this one.

An elaborate quest took place in Tibet after the death of a Dalai Lama in order to find his successor, who was often thought to be the reincarnation of the previous spiritual leader. Such was the case following the death in 1933 of the 13th Dalai Lama, when the state oracles were consulted, and there were months of public prayer and ritual. Then the Lama Regent held his vigil over the sacred lake whose name means "The Goddess's Soul." The signs the Lama Regent received in his visions were very specific. They pointed to a house with a blue roof in Eastern Tibet. Having disguised themselves, a special group of Lamas made the journey from Lhasa, the capital, to the house and were taken in by the family that lived there, the customary show of hospitality for traveling monks and pilgrims.

Within the small house they met an amazing, two-year old boy who seemed to know them already. He knew where they had come from and, in fact, knew one of them by name. They secretly passed word of their astonishing findings to the capital in Lhasa, and then came the real test. The boy was given three pairs of objects -- two strings of nondescript black prayer beads, two walking sticks, and two small drums. In each pair, one of the objects had been owned by the previous Dalai Lama, and the other was a replica. Without hesitation, the boy chose the beads, the stick, and the drum that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama -- he wasn't taken in by the imitation drum that had a shiny gold band and a colorful tassel. He took possession of these objects like they had always been his, and he played his drum for the visitors with intense dignity, gazing deeply at each of them with such profound sureness and serenity, that they knew immediately . . . he was . . . the one.

The Dalai Lama's story has inspired books and films, and what approaches mythological awe. And this feeling is underscored in the many interviews and documentaries that have been made about him. It's also present in the recent exhibition of art works, The Missing Peace, that were inspired by the Dalai Lama. This show contains an imaginary portrait of the next chosen child, who just may be a girl, and it has a Kirlian photograph of his humble walking shoes with an astonishing electro-magnetic aura radiating from them. When he was asked about this halo of energy surrounding the shoes, the Dalai Lama replied, playfully and without missing a beat, that the shoes had be re-soled three times and so the camera may well be showing the auras of the coblers.

Copyright 2007 John Cech

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Monday, 28-May-2007 14:57:38 EDT

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."