The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Rinpoche or Rinboqê (Tibetan: རིན་པོ་ཆེ་, Wylie: rin-po-che, ZYPY: Rinboqê) is an honorific used in Tibetan Buddhism. It literally means "precious one," and is used to address or describe Tibetan lamas and other high-ranking or respected teachers. This honor is generally bestowed on reincarnated lamas, or Tulkus, by default. In other cases it is earned over time, and often bestowed spontaneously by the teacher's students.
Honorific applied to reincarnate lamas and other highly respected persons. "Rinpoche" means "precious" and refers to someone who in their last life attained such a high degree of mastery that they did not have to take any more rebirths. However, out of their compassion for others, they took another birth at will - or rather took a human form - in order to teach others. Hence, they are "precious" because they returned to show us how to do it ourselves.
The documentary films The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (1992) and Unmistaken Child (2008) document the lengthy procedure of searching for and finding the reincarnation, or tulku, of a Tibetan lama.