Tenzin Osel Rinpoche

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Tenzin Ösel Rinpoche (Tibetan: བསྟན་འཛིན་འོད་གསལ་; Wylie: bstan 'dzin 'od gsal) was born in 1985 in Bubion, Granada, to Spanish parents who had been students of Lama Thubten Yeshe. Fourteen months later the Dalai Lama concurred with suggestions to the effect that he was the tulku (i.e. Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation) of Lama Yeshe.

Birth

Tenzin Osel was born without causing any pain to his mother; a birth event considered significant in Buddhism. The Buddha was born in such a way and often Tibetan lamas look for people born in such a way, determining them to be tulkus, or rebirths of famous teachers and gurus from the past.

This birth event also occurred with Dr. David N. Snyder (who has made no claims to being any famous guru, reborn).

Born Osel Hita Torres, "Lama Ösel" is the son of Maria Torres and Francisco Hita; and the fifth of six siblings: Yeshe, Harmonia, Lobstang, and Dolma (all older); and (younger brother) KunKyen. As a teenager Lama Ösel studied both Western and traditional Tibetan subjects at Sera Monastery in South India. However, in order to attain a western education, he studied at St. Michaels University School, a private high school in Victoria, British Columbia to complete a grade-12 education. It was reported he has taken monastic vows.

Vicki Mackenzie wrote a book about Lama Yeshe and Lama Osel entitled Reincarnation: The Boy Lama. Additional information about Lama Osel and other western tulkus can be found in her Reborn in the West.

Controversy

Although once chosen by the Dalai Lama himself, Osel Torres has now left the Order and is pursuing a film education back in Spain. On May 31, 2009 some magazines came out with reports that Osel no longer wished to be ordained: see the Guardian article link for the full report.

In June 2009 FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) came out with a response, see the 'gobeyondwords' link below stating that the lama still respects the Buddhist traditions and especially the Dalai Lama. The response from the FPMT claims that the other reports were sensationalized in a tabloid manner and distorted the facts.

After attaining his majority, Hita seemed increasingly to avoid FPMT circles, though formulaic greetings regularly appeared in FPMT publications. In May of 2009, Hita gave an interview for Babylon Magazine, a bilingual (Spanish/English) Madrid periodical. In it he expressed belief in reincarnation, and admiration for Zopa and the Dalai Lama, while complaining of his own discomfort with his exile Tibetan environs:

"I returned to Spain because I had arrived at a point where I no longer fitted within that life. I couldn't find myself, because for me it was a lie being there living something that was imposed from outside."

Having left the monastery at eighteen, without having earned a geshe degree, he felt unqualified to teach, as the FPMT expected of him: "The literal translation of lama is teacher, and I'm no teacher."[1]

Similar, but more pointed, remarks soon appeared in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo:

"Con 14 meses ya me habían reconocido y llevado a la India. Me vistieron con un gorro amarillo, me sentaron en un trono, la gente me veneraba... Me sacaron de mi familia y me metieron en una situación medieval en la que he sufrido muchísimo. Era como vivir en una mentira." [2]
"At 14 months I was recognized and taken to India. I dressed in a yellow hat, I sat on a throne, people worshipped me ... I was taken away from my family and put in a medieval situation in which I suffered a lot. It was like living a lie."

Extracts appeared the following day in the The Guardian (UK). At this time, references to "Lama Osel" suddenly disappeared from the FPMT's website, but reappeared the following day. [3] [4] Wisdom Publications (the FPMT publisher) then reported on the controversy on its blog under the title "Tempest in a Teapot." [5], claiming that Hita's original comments had been misrepresented and taken out of context. According to Wisdom, the article from El Mundo had been based on the one for Babylon Magazine.

On June 3, a message from Hita appeared on the FPMT website expressing support for that organization and Lama Zopa. In it, he said he was "privileged" to have received an education rooted in both Eastern and Western cultures.

"That experience was really good and I so appreciate it.
"However, certain media find ways to sensationalize and exaggerate an unusual story. So I hope that what appears in news print is not read and taken too literally. Don't believe everything that is written!
"Experience shows that however hard one tries in interviews to sincerely and honestly convey key information, the printed result can tend towards sensationalism to get the most attention.
"FPMT is doing a great job and Lama Zopa is an immensely special person - very inspiring and a great yogi. ... There is no separation between myself and FPMT..." [6]

References