The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The reincarnation system (tulku), a distinguishing characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism, is based the theory that Buddha's soul never vanishes, but reincarnates in succession to lead his followers and to accomplish his mission.
The Yellow Hat sect, Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism also applied the system to hand down the titles conferred on the third Dalai Lama and the fourth Panchen Lama to keep their established religious and secular title and power.
A search party headed by another high lama begins the search.
After a religious retreat, lamas, dispatched in disguise, scour Tibet for special signs: new mothers who had unusual dreams, children who have special knowledge without being taught, and special physical traits, such as big ear lobes.
The lamas refer to oracles, portents, dreams and the late lama's prophesy in order to aid them in their search. Some lamas are sent to Lhamo Latso, the Oracle Lake, to look for prophetic visions to help locate the reincarnation.
Usually, dozens of candidates are sought. They will be tested with the late lama's possessions; those who have amazing knowledge in identifying their predecessor's belongings win and become the final candidates.
Since the search could be easily manipulated and dispute occurs (as in the case of the sixth Dalai Lama), Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty decided to use a gold urn lottery as a divination to eliminate false candidates.