Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Paul LarsonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_715

In Tibetan Buddhism, a tulku is an individual who is sufficiently advanced spiritually to be able to direct their reincarnation and be able to guide their followers to find their next physical embodiment. Reincarnation is a core belief of both Hinduism and Buddhism and is found in many Western esoteric traditions as well. The general view of Buddhism is that all sentient beings are on a wheel of life, endlessly living lives, dying, and becoming reborn in another body. There is a broad assumption of an evolutionary process where greater spiritual accomplishments result in moving up the scale of beings. The Mahayana concept of “bodhisattva” is relevant here, since they postpone their complete enlightenment in order to continue to work for the enlightenment of all sentient beings. The tulku, as a bodhisattva, continues their life stream across particular incarnations in order to facilitate the enlightenment of all. In Tibetan Buddhism, the god realm exists, but enlightenment can only...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyChicagoUSA