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From article[edit]

Personalities can be recognized as tulkus later in life: an example of this is actor Steven Seagal, an advocate for Tibetan Buddhist causes. Seagal was recognized as the reincarnation of a lama by Third Pema Norbu Rinpoche, but has never been trained or enthroned as a Buddhist teacher. [this was in main body of the article]

A Tulku is one who has activily CHOSEN their rebirth, rather than being at the mercy of ones own karma during the rebirth process like the rest of us.
There have been many examples of Western tulkus, but Steven Seagal is not one of them. He has never received a letter of confirmation nor been enthroned. A Tulku needs both.
Many powerful tulkus have had their rebirths disputed, but this usually clarifies with time as their personalities evolve.
An incarnate lama with the title TULKU, as opposed to the title RINPOCHE, is traditionally considered to be the lesser incarnation, although a humble person may insist on using the former. So traditionaly although every Rinpoche is a Tulku, not all Tulkus are Rinpoches. However these days many non-tulkus give themselves, or are appointed, the title Rinpoche hence a confusion between the traditional meaning of the word and the literal meaning today.
[this was below the see also]

Could someone explain an actual source for Steven Segal's appointment of being a tulku and what ramifications that distinguished him as such. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tyod (talkcontribs) 19:58, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

So what about [[1]], then ? -- 12:07, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

what indeed?
Zero sharp 21:35, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
219.110. is rigth, that's what. - Nat Krause(Talk!) 05:34, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

Removed reference to Lama Shenpen. There is a good deal of controversy over his recognition. The source cited is also from the website of the subject himself. (talk) 03:53, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Definition problems[edit]

The first sentence, which should be a definition, has gotten all messed up. I realise that the situation is complicated because tülku literally means nirmanakaya in Tibetan, but, in English, it almost always means a reincarnated lama. It certainly does not mean "an epithet used to refer to a high lama or other spiritually significant figure". We should lead with the English usage and explain nuance later on. - Nat Krause(Talk!) 05:34, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

I come as a non-Buddhist to understand the word tulku and am confronted by this opaque, jargon-ridden definition:

A tulku is an enlightened Tibetan Buddhist lama who has, through phowa and siddhi, consciously determined to take birth, often many times, in order to continue his or her Bodhisattva vow.

Here are the technical words I do not understand in that sentence: tulku, lama, phowa, siddhi, and Bodhisattva. In addition, I do not understand the unfamiliar concept of taking birth. What is that?

Some of the obscure jargon is presented as links where I could risk finding out if those words are more clearly defined, but why should I bother? The burden of duty is on the writer to engage the reader and to enlighten him, not to repel his imagination with unfriendly obscurities. That first sentence needs to be rewritten so that non-Buddhists, the majority of readers, can understand it. I did not read the rest of the article because of that opening sentence so I cannot speak about the rest of it.

The duty of an encyclopaedia is to explain and enlighten in terms that non-specialists can grasp. The tulku in question may be enlightened, but I am not.

(This comment is unindented as it does not reply to the previous comment, but adds a different remark on the same topic.)

odea (talk) 09:31, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree with your critique.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 02:36, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree with my original comment. I notice the definition has not been tackled by anyone qualified to fix it since my criticism almost a year ago. This should appeal to anyone who savours the corrupt tang of irony because Buddhism's final goal is clarity. --O'Dea (talk) 03:34, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree with earlier comments that the definition sections are not very clear. There are much simpler and clearer definitions available provided by, for example, the Dalai Lama himself! In the opening chapter of his book Freedom in Exile he says this about 'lama', 'living buddha' and 'tulkus':

"A further, unfortunate misunderstanding is due to the Chinese rendering of the word lama as huo-fou, which has the connotation of a 'living Buddha'. This is wrong. Tibetan Buddhism recognises no such thing. It only accepts that certain beings, of whom the Dali Lama is one, can choose the manner of their rebirth. Such people are called tulkus (incarnations)."

Now, isn't that better? There are also excellent definitions and descriptions of all sorts of terms in the books of Alexandra David Neel. I will have a stab at writing a better definition shortly. :-) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vacarme (talkcontribs) 16:33, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Two points[edit]

I rewrote the section on ==Meaning==. There were a couple things I wanted to mention:

1) The author of the previous version seems to have a slightly different idea of why tülkus are called tülku than I have. However, I'm not an expert on these things, so maybe I'm wrong, in which case I will be happy to change it back. What is agreed upon is that tülku literally means something like avatar. However, the previous author believes that the implication is that the tülku is an avatar of some supernatural entity, such as Avalokita or Amitabha. On the other hand, I have reworded it to say that the tülku is an avatar (although I don't use the word avatar) of the first lama in the tülku lineage (although, in fact, many tülkus are also seen as manifestations of supernatural entities as well).

2) I also took out, "In this sense, the Tibetan use is hardly innovative: many Buddhist figures within the Mahayana tradition have been declared nirmanakayas, both inside and outside Tibet." I wouldn't find this shocking, but I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, so I removed it as an unsubstantiated claim. - Nat Krause(Talk!) 06:16, 29 April 2006 (UTC)


In the Characteristics section you state:

"Lineages of tulkus may be interlinked—for example the Panchen Lama traditionally recognizes the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama and vice versa. In most cases there is no such relationship, but the potential candidate is always vetted by respected lamas."

I follow the Tibetan school, particularly the Gulupga lineage; that of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. Your statement is not entirely true. The difference is a bit of semantics, but what you state is not entirely accurate. When the Panchen Lama passes, the Dalai Lama, as head of the Gulupga school, certainly recognizes the next Panchen Lama, and enthrones him. However, the reverse is not entirely true. When the Dalai Lama passes, the Panchen Lama certainly helps guide the Regents to find the next Dalai Lama, but it is the Regents that find, confirm and enthrone ("recognize") the Dalai Lama, not the Panchen Lama. You have to remember, the Panchen Lama is a secondary position to the Dalai Lama. Thus, he does not have the authority to "recognize" the next Dalai Lama. He is his student.

Take for example the current Dalai Lama. When the 13th passed, it was the Regents that went to the countryside and found the Tenzin Gyatso. As a boy, he was then taken to Lhasa for training and enthronement. The Panchen Lama at the time helped guide the Regents on where to find the boy lama, but he did not, from my understanding, have the authority to "recognize" (enthrone) him as the next Dalai Lama.

I really hope this helps. As I said, the difference is in the semantics. I also understand that most would not understand the difference. However, as a Free Encyclopedia, I thought it appropriate to notify of your oversight.

Thanks for listening.

A devoted follower of the Dharma...

reincarnations from noble families[edit]

I seem to remember some order by Qianlong(?) (in 1750 or 1757?) that ruled that henceforth reincarnations would no longer be found among the nobility. I am, however, not sure if this order applied only to Mongolia or also to Tibet. It would probably be useful to also discuss this topic within the article, as the selection of reincarnations from among the ruling families seems to have been rather common for a while. Yaan (talk) 13:23, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

This was in the aftermath of the Nepalese invasion and the concurrent Shamarpa/Panchen Lama affair, ca. 1792 (someone should make a movie about that—a great story). As far as I know, the restriction only applied to the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, however. The Karmapas up through the 16th were often from noble families outside of the Lhasa state.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 17:51, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Hereditary Tulkus[edit]

  • Shabdrung "Shabdrung (also Zhabdrung; Tibetan: ཞབས་དྲུང།; Wylie: zhabs drung), which literaly means "before the feet of", was a title used when refering to or addressing great lamas in Tibet, particularly those who held a hereditary lineage."
Austerlitz -- (talk) 19:32, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
But how did they find the heir? I guess itr was possible for reincarnations to be from the same family (1st and 2nd Javzandamba Hutagt in Mongolia, for example), but obviously this is not a simple father-and-son thing? So we probably would need some more details to elabotate. The quote above reads as if what they mean by lamas 'who held a hereditary lineage" might indeed just be ordinary tulkus - i.e. they might have inherited their title from someone outside their own family. Yaan (talk) 13:06, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
I feel that there is something in your question and remarks which has to be thought about/I have to think about. Now I just want to mention two tradition with somehow "hereditary" line:
Austerlitz -- (talk) 12:49, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
I think that the term tülku—in English, at least—normally means a lama who has been intentionally reborn into the world to continue teaching. This is distinct from a hereditary line. You'll notice that the definition of zhabdrung given above refers to "great lamas" rather than "tülkus", although zhabdrung can also be a title for a tülku, as in the case of the Zhabdrung of Bhutan. As Yaan points out, it is fairly common for a tülku to be a blood relative of his predecessor (although the Dalai and Panchen Lamas have not done this since the emperor forbade it in the 1790s), but it doesn't seem practical to make this mandatory.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 23:31, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Female Tulkus[edit]

"In the fifteenth century CE, Princess Chokyi-dronme (Chos-kyi sgron-me) was recognized as the embodiment of the Buddha figure Vajra Varahi. She became known as Samding Dorje Pagmo ( bSam-lding rDo-rje phag-mo) and began a line of female tulkus, reincarnate lamas. At present, the twelfth of this line lives in Tibet. Another female tulku lineage, that of Shugseb Jetsun Rinpoche (Shug-gseb rJe-btsun Rin-po-che), began in the nineteenth century CE."

Austerlitz -- (talk) 14:55, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
  • [3] "ANI LOCHEN (c. 1865–1951) came to achieve the most treasured status of Tibetan culture, that of a religious master, and her devotees regard her as an emanation (sprul sku) of the the famous eleventh-century yoginī Machig Labdron."
Austerlitz -- (talk) 15:47, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Naropa, Niguma, Shangpa Kagyu.

Austerlitz -- (talk) 11:07, 7 December 2008 (UTC)


  • [4] Until yesterday I had never heard about that.
Austerlitz -- (talk) 10:21, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Emanation v incarnation[edit]

'Incarnation' is philosophically unsound as it reifies an 'I': we employ 'emanation' in its stead! Though texts have used incarnation this is a translation and cognitive error in lexical choice.
B9 hummingbird hovering (talkcontribs) 10:48, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Nirmana actually means creation. Peter jackson (talk) 11:18, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Should this not be explained (more transparently) in the article? I've added the template [clarification needed] in the article to the first occurrence of "emanation". The question of multiple emanations should be addressed (for example Jamgon Kogntrul I had 25). The article text also fails to mention the 17th Karmapa is in dispute although that is mentioned in the list of tulkus.Rinpoche (talk) 01:02, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
We could explain it, but we would need to know what we are talking about. To be sure we know what we're talking about, we need some kind of authoritative source, preferably a modern scholastic source. I wouldn't know how to explain "incarnation" vs. "emanation", and I wouldn't know how to judge someone else's explanation as plausible or not. Overall, the tülku phenomenon seems to be sort of underspecified.—Greg Pandatshang (talk) 03:03, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
Well the article says "The Tibetan institution of the tulku as the emanation(often misunderstood as the rebirth) of a lama developed ...". Since I'm pretty sure many readers will imagine 'reincarnation' as 'rebirth' that's got to be pretty puzzling. I think what you say is quite right and I'm not sufficiently sure of myself to attempt the edit but surely there's someone out there who feels confident enough to point out that the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence and no-self conflicts with the idea of rebirth, that reincarnation should not thus be thought of as transmigration of the soul, that what is actually to be thought of as being carried forth is the individual's karma and thus the term 'emanation' is preferred. Rinpoche (talk) 15:58, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

What about that?[edit]

Should it be inserted somewhere, too? On recognizition of tulkus / From the Heart of the Panchen Lama (Statments and a peitition: 1962-1989)

-- (talk) 08:47, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

two additional links (sorry).

-- (talk) 08:52, 23 August 2009 (UTC)


-- (talk) 09:42, 23 August 2009 (UTC)


Added following here: qutuγtu (Tib: 'phags-pa / Skt: ārya), or hutagt in the standard Khalkha dialect. new content---> According to the Light of Fearless Indestructable Wisdom by Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal: designates one who is "noble" (or "selfless" according to Buddha's usage) and used in Buddhist texts to denote a highly achieved being who has attained the first bhumi, a level of attainment which is truly egoless, or higher. There are no pages that can deal with "arya" as in Arya Tara, and Mongolian use of Khutugtu seems very wide-spread in that culture, so i thought it is good to provide glossary entry that explains the three words, so it could be used as reference for what they mean.Sherabgyatso (talk) 06:54, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Steven Seagal recognition as a tulku[edit]

recognition of Steven Seagal as a tulku is a kind of a bloody joke - look here [6] what this guy does: he promotes with his name one of the world's biggest weapon manufacturer - Kalashnikov — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:28, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Mass deletion[edit]

An editor has repeatedly mass deleted material in this article without any prior attempt at discussion, consensus, tagging, or prior indication that there was any problem. This is against Wikipedia policies and is disruptive editing. Softlavender (talk) 23:56, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Pinging editors that normally deal with Buddhist articles @Joshua Jonathan, CFynn, Montanabw, Tengu800, Cullen328, JimRenge:VictoriaGraysonTalk 00:02, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
WP:Canvassing is not the way to deal with violations of Wikipedia policies (mass deletion). The way to deal with perceived problems in articles is to tag them first, find citations, rewrite, and discuss any major alterations on the article's Talk page and establish consensus. Softlavender (talk) 00:11, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Problems with the article include OR, nonRS and uncited material. Also much of the article was sourced from statements of the Dalai Lama which indicates the article was written by someone who has a superficial understanding of Tibetan Buddhism i.e. yetis etc. The references to movies and Alexandra David-Néel further confirm that hypothesis.VictoriaGraysonTalk 00:32, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

If there appears to be WP:OR, then tag it; or re-write and cite it; or bring it to the Talk page to discuss. If there appear to be non-WP:RS citation(s), then either state the source in the text ("According to _______, ...", or "_______ has stated that ..."; or bring the specific source(s) to the Talk page so it can be discussed as to the reliability of the source; or find better citations; or tag the source/citation. If there is uncited material, then tag the article, section, sentence, or phrase. Softlavender (talk) 01:03, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
I do not see that the ping by VictoriaGrayson amounts to canvassing. The nutshell summary of canvassing is:
"When notifying other editors of discussions, keep the number of notifications small, keep the message text neutral, and don't preselect recipients according to their established opinions. Be open!"
The ping seems to comply, and it is a stretch to call it canvassing. Editing such as removal of content that is perceived to be non-compliant is bold and encouraged, not disruptive at all. Now, the discussion begins, per WP:BRD.
That being said, I claim no expertise nor deep interest in Buddhism. I have participated in discusssions about the Dorje Shugden controversy as an experienced generalist editor, out of a desire to maintain NPOV in the highly visible BLP 14th Dalai Lama. Because I lack both knowledge of and interest in this specific topic, I will refrain from further comments at this time. I reserve the right to comment later, if I judge that my input might be useful. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 02:39, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
I tend to agree with VictoriaGrayson on this one. The materials are largely unsourced original research. Materials that are not cited may be subject to flagging and deletion if they are disputed or deemed dubious by other editors. Perhaps the best approach would be to first flag the dubious materials, flag the page itself, wait for some time, and then delete the offending materials. Tengu800 03:16, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
JJ: I'm not an expert at all on Tibetan Buddhism, but Alexandra David-Neal is not a good source. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 15:13, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Section 7, Controversy[edit]

Many of these people are living, whoever added these few information, should have cited reliable citation.

Also the content about Lama Osel, Osel Hita Torres, speaks more about their outlook rather than any controversy or criticism. Bladesmulti (talk) 15:23, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

However, according to the Dalai Lama, "this is wrong. Tibetan Buddhism recognises no such thing."[4] The Dalai Lama in interviews frequently dismissed the notion of 'living Buddha', calling it "nonsense". could be shortened. Chinese meaning is irrelevant to Tibetan understanding.[7] Bladesmulti (talk) 15:30, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes its all OR.VictoriaGraysonTalk 17:20, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Cullen328, Tengu800, Joshua Jonathan and Bladesmulti.VictoriaGraysonTalk 23:48, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

That's the main problem, if some people have assumed or established any connection between the Chinese and Tibetan understanding, it is still contradictory to the usual definition. User:Softlavender Would you tell us what can we do to improve our content? Bladesmulti (talk) 06:23, 4 November 2014 (UTC)