A question about the movie "little buddha' and bhava?

@sujato, @Brahmali :pray:
Dear dhamma friends,
I just watched this movie called “little buddha” and there Lama Dorje dies and gets reincarnated as 3 separate beings. Is this possible and if it is possible are they going to be 3 seperate minds or a single mind seperated in to 3 parts. if it is a single mind then what happens when one body dies. Is the mind going to wait floating in the air for the other two to die? and what about the karma that each one does is it going to be collective karma, and what about the bhava? (3 seperate bhavas or a single bhava), I’m really confused :astonished:

this is not possible according to the Buddhadhamma as far as i’m aware, since everyone is the heir of one’s own kamma

the efforts to attain nibbana are futile if one is to reincarnate like that

Tibetan Buddhism is Mahayanic and Bon influenced

one can easily get confused trying to reconcile contradicting teachings, it’s best to stick to a single belief system



Dear @charith,

I agree with @LXNDR, it is impossible for the mind to be re-born into three different bodies at one time. The movie you watched is just a movie. Don’t get confused by it. Don’t believe what you see.

More importantly, please take heed to the advice below:

It’s really important to stick to one system and get to really understand it. Anything else is a distraction. The Lord Buddha’s teachings are simple and clear, with no secrets, taught in a gradual manner. The Lord Buddha set it up that way so everyone can benefit from the teachings to the max. It’s just a matter of dedicated practice, learning, and patience.

Jolly vassa to everyone. May all beings be free :heart_eyes:

with añjali and mettā,

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Dear Clarith,

As far as I know, there is no reference in the Early Buddhist Texts to a single person getting reborn as more than one individual. It may be, however, that such a possibility exists according to Tibetan Buddhism.

With metta.

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Thank you for being kind to leave a reply Achan. :pray:
Thanks to all the others also for taking the time to answer.
Lots of Meththa,

With respect to Ajahn :pray: and the other responders, I think that this is mentioned often in the Early Buddhist Texts. For example:


Hi Stuart,

I think the Buddha talks about the various psychic powers in this paragraph including the psychic power to see the Brahmā-world. I don’t think the first power (…having been one, he becomes many and having been many, he becomes one…) is related to the last one (…he exercises mastery over the body as far as the Brahmā-world…) Also I can’t see where in this paragraph the Buddha mentions rebirth.

With metta,

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Hi Rudite,

Yes. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I only meant to highlight the first of the psychic powers:

“Here, Kevaṭṭa, a monk wields the various psychic powers: having been one, he becomes many and having been many, he becomes one; "

You are correct that the Buddha does not specifically mention that a yogi with this power can perform it during the process of rebirth, but he also does not exclude this ability being carried out during the rebirth process.

I think it would be a strange interpretation to say that someone proficient in this ability would not be able to utilise it during the death/rebirth process, which I would suggest is a period during samsara (cyclic persistence) that is pregnant with many possibilities for an adept with this sort of mastery of the mind.

I would also suggest that a possible interpretation (one that I favour) is that the tulku portrayed in the film is carrying out a subset of the ability (1 => many) , in that he is utilising the physical (form) birth process, so that he only needs to manipulate mind and not matter as well. What is suggested in the film is a lesser ability than the one suggested in the Sutta, but it is contained within a broad interpretation of the 1 => many ability.

We may speculate as to why this particular tulku has done this. Perhaps he has not developed that particular mastery over matter yet and needs to utilise the ‘back spray of entropy’ (physical birth), or maybe he’s just being lazy :wink:.

Please remember that these tulku’s have spent centuries in training, honing these abilities. These are not just ordinary run of the mill people.


Hi Stuart,

Thank you! No worries, I too have to say sorry because I have not seen the film and I’m no expert in Tibetan Buddhism; I’m just trying my best to understand what the Buddha says in the suttas :slight_smile:

With metta,

No problems Rudite,

All of the senior Tibetan teachers that I have known suggest that the Mahayana and Vajrayana needs to concord with the early teachings, and if it does not, then it is the interpretation of the teachings that is at fault.

Personally I have found that the more that I learn about the EBTs, the more that I find this beautiful commonality between the major traditions.


I saw this movie long ago, and while I liked the bits that showed the Buddha, as a writer I think the whole 'splitting of consciousness" thing is at least as much of a problem on aesthetic grounds as it is doctrinally. Doctrinally it’s silly, of course, but I doubt anyone takes it as a serious explanation of Buddhist philosophy.

In any narrative, you work by tension and release. You have to set up some kind of conflict, and when the conflict is resolved, you have a bittersweet flavor, because at least one possibility is always lost. It’s there that the growth and wisdom happen through the story.

Avoiding this by having the consciousness split in three is narrative cowardice. You try to keep everyone happy, but in the process just create an unreality, a naive wish-fulfillment.

The problem is, that’s all too often how Buddhism is presented in the west already. We’re so goddamn non-judgmental it doesn’t mean anything any more. You can have anything you want, and get enlightened too!

Needless to say, that’s not the actual story of Buddhism. The real story begins with an incredibly painful choice: the world or nibbana. There’s a truth to that, a constant creative struggle to reconcile these different scales of value. And it’s in that struggle that Buddhist narrative finds its tension and its sense of emotional connection. The recent Sri Lankan film on the life of the Buddha knew this, and focussed on the emotional crisis of this choice.

Perhaps one day we’ll see a filmic representation of this in the west; but it would have to come from someone with a deeper understanding of the Dhamma.


Oh Bhante, I’m laughing out loud. So true, but really it’s very sad, isnt’ it?