Searching for Successor soul boys
The reincarnation of the two great Living Buddha systems of Dalai and Panchen Lamas has its own traditional procedures. The primary gist include the reincarnation prophesy of the late Lama before his death, portents of unusual phenomena occurring around the death, and the oracles of the Buddhist guardians. Take the instance of the 13th Dalai Lama for example, he passed away facing the east, unusual color clouds appear in the sky northeast to Lhasa, which foreshowed the location of the reincarnated soul boy. Then, living Buddhas went to Khamo Latso, the Oracle Lake, to look for prophetic visions and they saw a farmhouse at the end of a road, at the door was a big willow, under which there were a white horse and a woman standing with a child in her arms. Then, they asked a painter to draw the vision shown on the Oracle Lake and sent Gesang (a living Buddha) and Gu Sangzi to search the soul boy in accordance with the drawing. Two years later, as expected, they found the soul boy family in Qinghai Province with exactly the same vision shown on the Oracle Lake. So, Gu Sangzi disguised himself as a wealthy merchant and Gesang as his servant, sleeping overnight at the soul boy’s family. Surprisingly, the child, paying no attention to the wealthy merchant while attempting familiarity with the servant, Gesang the living Buddha, felt with his fingers the face and beards, taking one bunch of prayer beads around his neck and saying that ”it’s mine, return to me”. Gesang living Buddha was an intimate attendant of the 13th Dalai Lama and the beads were really granted by him. Then, they provided him with more than ten mixed teacups of old and new with various colors, the child didn’t choose the biggest and the most beautiful one but an old teacup of light yellow, which was the 13th Panchen’s belongings. After testing repeatedly in this way with right results, they affirmed the child as the reincarnated soul boy.
The search for the soul boy must be conducted in secret. And the search party usually consists of living Buddhas with high reputation and the disciples close to the late Lama, who will be dispatched in disguise after a religious retreat and scour Tibet for the soul boys. All the candidates will be tested with the late Lama’s possessions, putting his musical instruments and articles together with things alike and asking the candidates to identify their predecessor’s belongs. The accuracy of their choice will finally decide who will be chosen and who will be eliminated. As part of an effort to turn the tide by overcoming drawbacks that the search which may be manipulated, since Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, the Central Government established the system of drawing lots from a gold urn. The names as well as the birth dates of the final candidates are written on ivory lots, wrapped up and sealed in the urn. Then the lottery is held in public. After the soul boy is authorized by the Central Government, the grand enthronement Ceremony will be held and the soul boy will succeed to the religious power. Thereafter, he will start religious practice as a new generation of Dalai or Panchen Lama, receiving the believers’ worship.