Author Topic: Story of a Western Tulku  (Read 17410 times)

Vajraprotector

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2012, 04:55:03 PM »
I think Western Tulkus are able to spread Dharma with background of studying in the monastery/Dharma in the Tibetan tradition and combining it with their Western education or exposure of growing up in the West.

The more popular Tulkus that I can think of right now, who are in the middle age, such as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche of Shambhala International, he was born in Bodhgaya in 1962, but grew up in the United Kingdom and United States.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was born in Bhutan in 1961. Until the age of twelve Khyentse Norbu studied at the Palace Monastery of the King of Sikkim. After leaving Sikkim, he studied at Sakya College in Rajpur, and later attended London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

Comparatively, the younger Tulkus might seem a bit "off track" right now, but may be that's the direction, that people want to relate to Dharma teachers who are "like them". When the time comes for His Holiness to enter parinirvana, I do not think people will respect Tibetans any longer, and perhaps those that are "born and bred" in the West will be more effective than a Lama that comes from mystical distant land who sits on a throne.

Big Uncle

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2012, 02:38:53 PM »
Big uncle - why undesirable? As you say, Ordination is not a necessity for a Tulku, whether western or eastern to do what they are supposed to do. What gives you the right to say that a Tulku who is not ordained, who did not enter formal study of Buddhism, who does not wear robes, who does not seem like a conventional Tulku, is any less capable or less learned than a traditional Eastern Tulku who is ordained in the monastery and enthroned since childhood.

In fact, I would argue that a western Tulku may in fact be more savvy, more street smart, more wise, and more capable of spreading the word of Buddha in the west than the traditional tibetan speaking Tulku, who is just too sheltered. No offense or disrespect meant, but who are you to say that what the Western Tulkus are doing is not suitable??

I say undesirable because not a single Tulku wants to brave the trend and either get ordained or stay ordained. It sends a message that ordination is an encumbrance and not a supreme method devised by the Buddha to bring one towards enlightenment.

You are right to say that I have no right to criticize them. I don't but I can't help suppressing my opinion after watching the Tulku movie by Gesar Mukpo that features the frank opinions of several western Tulkus. I wonder what is the purpose of the movie if its not to inspire people towards the Dharma. Honestly speaking, I was not inspired at all after watching it and if I weren't already in the Dharma, I would be even less inclined towards being a student of  any of these Western Tulkus or any Tulku for that matter. I would like to go into details but I would be criticizing them personally. I would definitely not endorse watching the Tulku movie at all.

Having said that, I can't deny the possibility that these Western Tulkus could be manifesting something for people of this generation. And I noticed the movie conspicuously avoids Gelug Western Tulkus like Elijah Ary and Lama Osel.

Vajraprotector

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2012, 03:49:19 PM »
Just read about another Western Tulku who doesn't want to be ordained and more interested to be a businessman! By the way, another new movie will be out about this Tulku as well.

At a young age, Yeshi is told that he is the reincarnation of his great-uncle, a famed Buddhist master who died in a Chinese-run jail. But Yeshi is more interested in becoming a Western businessman than a spiritual leader.

Seeing Tibetan culture fray under communist China's grip, Namkhai pressures his son to preserve what is left by studying and teaching Buddhism - and embracing his role as a reincarnated master.


Veteran documentary filmmaker Jennifer Fox, who also worked as Namhkai's private secretary, captures the father-son struggle over the course of 20 years in the POV film "My Reincarnation." It will be broadast June 21 on PBS.

"For all that is so interesting about Tibetan Buddhism in today's world, I was always drawn to the universal father-son struggle," Fox said. "What is extraordinary for Yeshi is that questions of personal identity become entagled in the fate of a 2,500 spiritual tradition."

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/buddhist-father-son-struggle-gives-life-to-reincarnation-documentary_n_1606229.html


More info about Yeshi Norbu/Khyentse Yeshe:

Khyentse Yeshe (Yeshi Silvano Namkhai), son and student of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was born in Italy in 1970. He received Christian and Buddhist education, studying philosophy and computer science. He then went on to work in the field of modern technologies.
 
H.H. Sakya Trizin recognized YSN at birth as the reincarnation of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s maternal uncle, Khyentse Rinpoche Chökyi Wangchug, giving him the name Jamyang Chökyi Nyima. In 2007, Yeshi went to Tibet and accepted his duty to help and support monastery in central Tibet.
 
Recently he is more and more dedicating his life to the future of Dzogchen Community founded by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, following his Teacher instructions and fulfilling the wishes of his students.
 
YSN’s style is open and simple; he promotes fresh and spontaneous interest talking directly and helping to enter the essence of Buddhist teachings and to discover one’s real nature.
 
During the last three years, YSN has given many public talks and teaching sessions in all Europe, Russia, Ukraine, USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. YSN actively collaborates with many Universities, Museums and Institues involved in the Tibetan Culture and Buddhist knowledge.

From: http://myreincarnationfilm.com/film/yeshi-namkhai/

Jessie Fong

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2012, 07:14:22 AM »
Whether Tulkus reincarnate in the Western world or any other parts of the world does not matter.  What matters is what the Tulku is here to achieve - obviously it is the spread of Dharma. In this age where the younger generation is more exposed to other cultures, it does well to be born in their midst to be able to "blend" in with that crowd, to teach them in a way that is best suitable to their mind set.

Big Uncle

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2012, 08:42:14 PM »
Whether Tulkus reincarnate in the Western world or any other parts of the world does not matter.  What matters is what the Tulku is here to achieve - obviously it is the spread of Dharma. In this age where the younger generation is more exposed to other cultures, it does well to be born in their midst to be able to "blend" in with that crowd, to teach them in a way that is best suitable to their mind set.

Well, that's why Tulkus who have been recognized early on and they don't take up their spiritual responsibilities causes great harm to the teachings. That is because all eyes are looking towards the Tulku and there's a certain expectation that needs to be fulfilled.

If they choose a mundane life instead of one that will not only disappoint devotees but also other people who would be disenchanted with the whole Tulku system. That's why I think if Tulkus are to be enthroned, they should have a good Lama to teach and guide him. Not all Tulkus are that highly attained that they will find their own way. It is very, very rare to find Tulkus of that calibre these days.

Ensapa

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2012, 08:04:09 AM »
Well, that's why Tulkus who have been recognized early on and they don't take up their spiritual responsibilities causes great harm to the teachings. That is because all eyes are looking towards the Tulku and there's a certain expectation that needs to be fulfilled.

If they choose a mundane life instead of one that will not only disappoint devotees but also other people who would be disenchanted with the whole Tulku system. That's why I think if Tulkus are to be enthroned, they should have a good Lama to teach and guide him. Not all Tulkus are that highly attained that they will find their own way. It is very, very rare to find Tulkus of that calibre these days.


There are a few different kinds of tulkus. There are the high ones that will find a way to come back and benefit others even if their incarnation is banned or if they reincarnate in the western world, they will still find a way to go back to the lineage that they belong to and become a skilled Lama. An example of this would be Lama Michel Rinpoche (http://dorjeshugden.com/wp/?p=8086) where he was able to reconnect with his lineage and was able to undergo monastic training voluntarily. These lamas are really attained, and their attainments are carried with them from life after life and no obstacles can truly stop them from benefitting others.

Then, there are the tulkus who was recognized at a very old age and refuse to return to the monastery to continue to their studies but become more interesting in samsaric matters. Some tulkus recognized this way can still enter the monastery and benefit, but a majority of them will not and to top it all off, they will do little to no work to benefit others so it is very hard for anyone to say that they manifested this way to benefit others. I personally know someone who has been recognized by the Dalai Lama as a tulku, he was born in 1979 and a singaporean. He refused to go back to the monastery, citing that he would like to reach out others to the Dharma via other things like preserving the environment. I do not sense that he is dharmic at all. I do not feel that he has been practicing well at all as he got jealous of someone who was younger than him opening a center and has bad mouthed that person in a few ways. It really shocked me that a tulku can act in this way. After some feedback from his friends, i realized that the real reason why he would not go back to the monastery was because he was addicted to certain pleasures and that made me really feel disappointed on how did a tulku turned out to be this way? Are they not supposed to be more dharmic and resilient than all of us?

I really do hope that I am wrong but this experience has really made me not respect tulkus based on their recognition and title given to them by HHDL or some other high lama, but purely on their deeds alone. If they take no or little action to benefit others, why should i respect them as tulkus?

Positive Change

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2012, 10:43:41 AM »
Big uncle - why undesirable? As you say, Ordination is not a necessity for a Tulku, whether western or eastern to do what they are supposed to do. What gives you the right to say that a Tulku who is not ordained, who did not enter formal study of Buddhism, who does not wear robes, who does not seem like a conventional Tulku, is any less capable or less learned than a traditional Eastern Tulku who is ordained in the monastery and enthroned since childhood.

In fact, I would argue that a western Tulku may in fact be more savvy, more street smart, more wise, and more capable of spreading the word of Buddha in the west than the traditional tibetan speaking Tulku, who is just too sheltered. No offense or disrespect meant, but who are you to say that what the Western Tulkus are doing is not suitable??

I agree with you Thor on this. There is I find a preconceived notion of how a Tulku should be and because the times are changing, maybe these Tulkus' methods are also evolving.

As much as there is a outward difference in the western Tulkus so to speak, I think their motivation remains steadfast. Perhaps their outward nature gives an "impression" which is not the norm and therefore people are quick to judge. However I think as you say Thor, they are in fact more street smart, savvy (internet, social media, etc) and language wise a lot easier to spread the Dharma to the west.

No disrespect to traditional Tulkus but the world is changing fast and degeneration is upon us, it is time for a huge renaissance in Buddhism and the methods to spread should reflect the times.

Dorje Pakmo

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2012, 12:47:41 PM »
Big uncle - why undesirable? As you say, Ordination is not a necessity for a Tulku, whether western or eastern to do what they are supposed to do. What gives you the right to say that a Tulku who is not ordained, who did not enter formal study of Buddhism, who does not wear robes, who does not seem like a conventional Tulku, is any less capable or less learned than a traditional Eastern Tulku who is ordained in the monastery and enthroned since childhood.

In fact, I would argue that a western Tulku may in fact be more savvy, more street smart, more wise, and more capable of spreading the word of Buddha in the west than the traditional tibetan speaking Tulku, who is just too sheltered. No offense or disrespect meant, but who are you to say that what the Western Tulkus are doing is not suitable??


I agree with you Thor on this. There is I find a preconceived notion of how a Tulku should be and because the times are changing, maybe these Tulkus' methods are also evolving.

As much as there is a outward difference in the western Tulkus so to speak, I think their motivation remains steadfast. Perhaps their outward nature gives an "impression" which is not the norm and therefore people are quick to judge. However I think as you say Thor, they are in fact more street smart, savvy (internet, social media, etc) and language wise a lot easier to spread the Dharma to the west.

No disrespect to traditional Tulkus but the world is changing fast and degeneration is upon us, it is time for a huge renaissance in Buddhism and the methods to spread should reflect the times.


Ary sees himself as a bridge between East and West
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2002/02.21/28-elijah.html


There must be a reason why the Tulkus are reincarnated at certain places and in this case, the West. The way I see it, probably Elijah Ary in his previous life as Geshe Jatse out of compassion, made a prayer to take rebirth in a place where Dharma is scarce so that he can benefit the people there by giving them the Dharma.

With the world evolving so quickly and with all the technology available, human beings are becoming more attached to their worldly possessions, it gets harder and harder for people to even spend a little  of their precious time for spiritual development, which is in actuality  the most important thing during one’s fortunate rebirth as a human. 

So, the western Tulkus who chooses not to be ordained and wear robes probably has their own valid reason in doing so. I would think maybe this approach makes the students/disciples comfortable and easier to accept the teaching. We have come to an age so degenerated, that out of kindness; the Holy ones chose to come down to our level to give us the Dharma. It will be hard for the Western people to even know the Dharma not to mention learning it if all Tulkus reincarnates in the East. It will make things even harder, due to the difference of cultural background and language. And oh yes… reincarnation exist, whether we like it or not
DORJE PAKMO

Vajraprotector

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2012, 01:11:01 PM »
It really shocked me that a tulku can act in this way. After some feedback from his friends, i realized that the real reason why he would not go back to the monastery was because he was addicted to certain pleasures and that made me really feel disappointed on how did a tulku turned out to be this way? Are they not supposed to be more dharmic and resilient than all of us?

I really do hope that I am wrong but this experience has really made me not respect tulkus based on their recognition and title given to them by HHDL or some other high lama, but purely on their deeds alone. If they take no or little action to benefit others, why should i respect them as tulkus?

Tulkus may have achieved some level of spiritual attainment ranging from part of the generation stage to Buddhahood, hence only a tiny fraction of and not all Tulkus are enlightened beings.  So, some of these Tulkus have negative karmic potentials in addition to a vast network of positive instincts.

From Alexander Berzin's 'Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship':

Depending on the circumstances of their upbringing and the societies in which they live, different potentials come to the fore and ripen in each lifetime. Thus, some tulkus may act in completely unenlightened ways.

Nevertheless, by the force of the death-juncture meditation and prayers of the founders of their lines, their next incarnations may still be as rinpocheys, located and recognized by the masters who have determined that to do so would have special benefit.


Sometimes, it's not the Tulkus themselves who want to be recognised nor to be respected, but rather the masters who recognise them know that there will be benefit in recognising these Tulkus, perhaps for the public or even for the Tulkus themselves, we do not know what these great masters think. We cannot judge a Tulku, especially the young ones who may seem very attached to samsara, but perhaps these experiences will be of use to them later in life when they become great teachers, or social workers, or leaders in their communities. 

bambi

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2012, 04:24:43 AM »
Its a wonderful and sad news altogether because Elijah chose to go back to the west to continue whatever he left behind but at the same time he is teaching Buddhism to the westerners and those who are interested in his own way.

I am very sure that these highly attained incarnations take on the form in the west because they would like to 'penetrate' the western world and you know what, in future we can have teachings without translator!  :o

I look at it this way, whether or not they choose to be a monk in the monastery or a layperson, they have their reasons for it. Maybe for something bigger in the future?  ??? As you can see below, they only return when needed and in any form they find easy to benefit us.

Some of the points I find relevant to this topic.

"The first Western tulkus were actually only half-Western: the sons of Tibetans who had married Western women. But there are presently about a dozen or so tulkus who are completely Western. The best-known are probably Lama Osel, who is Spanish, and the American woman, Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo. They were both recognized in 1987, but the circumstances of their recognition could hardly have been more different. Lama Osel's parents were students practicing in the tradition. In fact, their teacher, Lama Yeshe, was recognized (first by Lama Zopa, Lama Yeshe's principal Tibetan student and himself a tulku, and finally by the Dalai Lama) as having reincarnated as their son. This is about as "official" as you can get. Jetsunma, on the other hand, had no contact with Tibetan Buddhism at all. She was teaching a meditation group in Washington, D.C., thirty-nine years old and the mother of three children, when she made contact with a Tibetan teacher, Penor Rinpoche, who subsequently recognized her as the incarnation of the "original" Ahkön Norbu Lhamo, a prominent woman teacher of the seventeenth century. Of course, adult tulkus are unheard of in Tibet; it just never happens. Yet as Penor Rinpoche said, "We cannot say for sure who is going to be a tulku. They return only where they are needed. And they have the freedom to take any form they want."

And it is Western Buddhist teachers who are doing this. Of course, there have been, and still are, excellent Eastern teachers who have adapted to the special conditions that they found in the West. But Eastern teachers, however good they might be, are bound to remain Eastern; we might even say "foreign," to some extent. A culture needs people from within, so to speak, in order to make any import its own. And the inverse of this principle also holds: Westerners, however good they are, have to learn Buddhism from the "outside." This creates difficulties of its own. Yet the fact remains that there are Western Buddhist teachers who are transmitting the Dharma in a way that is quite as authentic as that of Eastern teachers."

biggyboy

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2012, 08:24:21 AM »
Incarnation definitely exist in its own way where many Tulkus incarnate in the land of red hair where Buddhism will rise much more for we needed most at this present times.  They incarnate at their own will for they would see the need to be there. Whether they take on the robes as an ordained monk or not is not for us to judge (due to our limited views and projections) for they have their reasons to do so.  They have their ways to attract and bring people onto the spiritual path and connection.

Vajraprotector

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2012, 05:48:51 PM »
After all the discussion, I am of the opinion that we shouldn't doubt young Tulkus who seemed to have 'lost their ways'. Perhaps newer methods are needed with fresh approach.

For example, Gesar Mukpo might not have carved his name in the Buddhist teacher arena for now, but his documentary is being well received and he has appeared in press and known for his work of his (first!) documentary. For example, he has been featured in The Guardian, Saturday 14 April 2012 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/14/western-tulku-buddhist-film-festival) and his message to introduce reincarnated Lamas and their struggles is a fresh approach and reaches many more masses than a traditional Tibetan Budhist audience.

There's also a good question in one of the articles "What does it mean to carry on a role designed for an old world when you're living in a completely new one? " I believe we shouldn't judge Gesar and other Western tulkus on how they will fulfill their destiny, because unlike us, they have planned their 'destiny' and it is no other than bringing Dharma and help to sentient beings.

Ensapa

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2012, 12:45:19 PM »
It really shocked me that a tulku can act in this way. After some feedback from his friends, i realized that the real reason why he would not go back to the monastery was because he was addicted to certain pleasures and that made me really feel disappointed on how did a tulku turned out to be this way? Are they not supposed to be more dharmic and resilient than all of us?

I really do hope that I am wrong but this experience has really made me not respect tulkus based on their recognition and title given to them by HHDL or some other high lama, but purely on their deeds alone. If they take no or little action to benefit others, why should i respect them as tulkus?

Tulkus may have achieved some level of spiritual attainment ranging from part of the generation stage to Buddhahood, hence only a tiny fraction of and not all Tulkus are enlightened beings.  So, some of these Tulkus have negative karmic potentials in addition to a vast network of positive instincts.

From Alexander Berzin's 'Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship':

Depending on the circumstances of their upbringing and the societies in which they live, different potentials come to the fore and ripen in each lifetime. Thus, some tulkus may act in completely unenlightened ways.

Nevertheless, by the force of the death-juncture meditation and prayers of the founders of their lines, their next incarnations may still be as rinpocheys, located and recognized by the masters who have determined that to do so would have special benefit.


Sometimes, it's not the Tulkus themselves who want to be recognised nor to be respected, but rather the masters who recognise them know that there will be benefit in recognising these Tulkus, perhaps for the public or even for the Tulkus themselves, we do not know what these great masters think. We cannot judge a Tulku, especially the young ones who may seem very attached to samsara, but perhaps these experiences will be of use to them later in life when they become great teachers, or social workers, or leaders in their communities.

Well, the tulku in question is a social worker, and he does have much influence in the environmental group that he is part of. Just that his claim that he is close with the local deities and him being jobless for a year but still have money to travel is a result of the local earth deities giving him money make me feel a bit odd. Isnt that something that one should keep private and not flaunt? I am just hoping that his movement for the environment would benefit from his involvement, however he chooses to benefit people. Perhaps in more ways than one, there are reasons for him to behave in this way and to manifest in this way and to not teach.

I do not want to judge, but that little encounter left a very bad taste in my mouth as him being a tulku he showed a very bad example. What happens when he tells other people that he is a tulku and then he behaves in this way and it turns people away from Buddhism?

But it does make sense when you explained that not all tulkus are enlightened beings and some of them do have negative potentials and it depends on environment. I guess this is what they mean when they say that tulkus that enter the monastery too late will be "dirty" and they will need to undergo special retreats to purify them. Higher level tulkus can perhaps overcome those easily without much problems as they have higher instincts.

I have also heard of tulku disease as well. Apparently, if a tulku is born in a condition where he is unable to benefit anyone at all, he will manifest insanity or a short life and pass on early so that he can do more in his next life rather than wasting time in the current life but so far there are very little stories of these stories. Anyone has further info on this? or it is just a myth?

Vajraprotector

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #28 on: June 28, 2012, 04:45:29 PM »
I have also heard of tulku disease as well. Apparently, if a tulku is born in a condition where he is unable to benefit anyone at all, he will manifest insanity or a short life and pass on early so that he can do more in his next life rather than wasting time in the current life but so far there are very little stories of these stories. Anyone has further info on this? or it is just a myth?


I have only read about this in relations to Taggie, or Tagtrug Mukpo, the oldest son of the Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Lady Diana Mukpo, born in 1971.

a)
‘When His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa visited, he suggested that *Taggie come to stay with him at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim; he thought Taggie might be suffering from what the Tibetans call "tulku's disease," and that the monastic environment and His Holiness's attention might bring benefit.’

From: A Brief History of Tagtrug Mukpo's Life, http://taggiemukpo.org/index.php?page=brief-history-of-taggie-s-life


b) Taggie had gone through many health problems while he was young. He suffers many epileptic seizures, and there were no conclusive diagnosis after many visits to many specialists. At that time also, Taggie developed fears and when he saw pictures of Mahakalas, he would go crazy, screaming, sobbing and running away despite always being a happy child.

It was said that one of the Taggie's predecessors, one of the earlier Tenga Rinpoche. have made a fatal error in relating to the mahakala srines at his monastery. He ignored the regulations and advice of senior monks and uncover the painting of a particular deity at a time that was forbidden. After that, he apparently went mad.

‘In any case, taggie became extremely afraid of the wrathful deities, and we thought perhaps it was related to the tulku disease that His Holiness was telling us was a product of not allowing him to be brought up in the monastery.’

From: Page 191, Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chögyam Trungpa, by Diana J. Mukpo, Carolyn Rose Gimian


Dondrup Shugden

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Re: Story of a Western Tulku
« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2015, 06:55:43 AM »
A detailed story of the life of a Tulku reincarnated in the Western World.  Does that make him less a practitioner than his previous life? 

From the story the answer is definitely not.  This story and the rest by our kind contributors show that attained being will manifest in any form at the right time for the right purpose.  The main purpose is always to benefit others with the Dharma.

Attained beings choose their rebirth where, when and who. They have total control over their rebirth.

During Shakymuni's time, He taught 84,000 times in accordance to the need for knowledge of his disciples.  In the Dharma text it is also stated the Buddhas will appear in any form that will be beneficial to sentient beings with quoted examples of even insane beings, handicapped etc.