I read in the New York Times today about one of the strange twists of drama Tibetan Buddhism is going through since coming out of its millennial seclusion.
The way it goes is that you have a teacher who is a highly realized master, enlightened, and so forth, and because they have these attributes, they have the power to choose to come back for another lifetime, or many lifetimes, in order to help sentient beings.
That is not a notion confined to Tibetan Buddhism or any other flower of Buddhism. Since The Matrix came out, popular culture in the West has dug the reality trip, as well, yah oh yah.
But the way the Tibetans would find out where the realized teacher had been reborn was pretty unique and powerful in its own way.
Miraculously, these adepts would usually have the time to write a letter, to be opened at their death, and the letter would have clues as to where he could be found, reborn in an auspicious coincidence where these clues could provide a good result.
It was a spiritual treasure hunt. The search itself was a lesson with its own traditions of adventure and illumination, and was a very interesting test to be given from a revered teacher who had just left this world physically, or at least that is the phenomenon presented, the appearance.
If done right, this trip to find the teacher, using the teacher’s last written test, is a real teaching no different than the ones which led to the students now having to find their teacher again.