Little Buddha, Big City


From The Guardian:


As a toddler, he was put on a throne and worshipped by monks who treated him like a god. But the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of a spiritual leader has caused consternation—and some embarrassment—for Tibetan Buddhists by turning his back on the order that had such high hopes for him.

Instead of leading a monastic life, Osel Hita Torres now sports baggy trousers and long hair, and is more likely to quote Jimi Hendrix than Buddha.

Yesterday he bemoaned the misery of a youth deprived of television, football and girls. Movies were also forbidden—except for a sanctioned screening of The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy, about a kidnapped child lama with magical powers. "I never felt like that boy," he said.

He is now studying film in Madrid and has denounced the Buddhist order that elevated him to guru status. "They took me away from my family and stuck me in a medieval situation in which I suffered a great deal," said Torres, 24, describing how he was whisked from obscurity in Granada to a monastery in southern India….

At six, he was allowed to socialise only with other reincarnated souls—though for a time he said he lived next to the actor Richard Gere's cabin.

At this point I was going to say it's better to be a free man than a captive god. But it turns out the prodigal guru gets to keep his lamahood anyway:

Despite his rebelliousness, he is still known as Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche and revered by the Buddhist community. A prayer for his "long life" still adorns the website of the Foundation to Preserve the Mahayana Tradition, which has 130 centres around the world. The website features a biography of the renegade guru that gushes about his peaceful, meditative countenance as a baby.

The guy is studying film, so it should occur to him after a while that his story requires him to go home in the third act. The script writes itself: The rock'n'roll lama is welcomed warmly but shocks the square Buddhists with his westernized ways; in the end he learns the value of spiritual practice as he teaches the uptight monks to get down. I'm seeing Justin Timberlake in the lead, with Richard Gere as the expatriate American who helps Torres find himself and Eddie Murphy as the voice of the wisecracking donkey. Rated R for language and nudity.