Four-year-old Trulku-la says he’s excited about his upcoming trip to Nepal, even if he isn’t sure why he’s going.
The youngster, a big Power Rangers fan, is recognized in the Tibetan Buddhist community as the reincarnation of a lama who died here in 1987.
On Jan. 25, he travels to Katmandu to be educated and to head a monastery with 38 monks.
Trulku-la, which in Tibetan means reincarnation, was born as Sonam Wangdu but now is formally Deshung Rinpoche IV.
He is said to be the reincarnation of Deshung Rinpoche III, a high lama who moved to Seattle in 1960 after Chinese Communists took over Tibet. Deshung Rinpoche III taught at the University of Washington, co-founded the Sakya Monastery here and during the 1980s re-established in Nepal the Tharlam Monastery.
Deshung Rinpoche III was said to be a reincarnation of the original lama, or teacher, Deshung Rinpoche I, who lived in Tibet last century.
At the Tharlam Monastery, which he will head, Trulku-la will be educated in subjects ranging from history to medicine and metaphysics.
Two years ago, he underwent an enthronement ceremony in Nepal attended by about 4,000 people, said his mother, Carolyn Lama.
For the Tharlam monks, she said, “there is absolutely no doubt in their minds that this is the same teacher that they loved and who ordained them and took care of the monastery the last time.”
Except for periodic visits, Lama and her son will be separated for the next five to eight years. After that, Trulku-la may come back to the Seattle area to visit Buddhist centers and do some teaching, but then will return to Nepal.
“If you really love someone, you want what’s best for them, not, ‘Oh, I want him with me,”’ said Lama, a former Olympic-class rower who works as a caregiver. Her husband and Trulku-la’s father, Tenzin Chopel Lama, was killed in a traffic accident in 1993.
Meanwhile, at the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple Day Care Center, Trulku-la plays 4-year-old games and, when asked if he is excited about going to Nepal, grins and says, “Yesss!”
But does he know why he’s going? “No!” he replies.