Author Topic: Tulkus highlighted in the British news  (Read 15897 times)

WisdomBeing

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Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« on: April 14, 2012, 03:20:00 AM »
How cool is it to see the Buddhist Film Festival here highlighting the Tulku phenomenon! Has anyone been to the BFF? Tomorrow’s the last day so I hope to make the screening today. I read this article at the Guardian online and thought it was amazing that even though the very controversial teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, has passed into clear light so many years ago, he is still so much an icon today. “Crazy Wisdom”, the movie about him, appears to be still as topical and popular today as it was when it was first made. I haven’t seen “Tulku” yet though some friends told me it wasn’t that great, and it looks like the tulkus are ‘whining’.

I have heard that there are various levels of Tulkus – high and low level ones. The higher the level, the more attainments of the tulku. Perhaps these young Western tulkus are not high level tulkus or perhaps they are high level but manifesting in this way for a purpose we do not know yet. Whatever it is, I do think we are not at the level to judge if they are high or low level tulkus. The best is to err on the side of caution and not judge. If anything, we can simply examine the results created by the tulku – for example, Chogyam Trungpa’s Naropa University is still growing strong today. And his students like Pema Chodron who are well known and respected.

Anyway, if anyone would like to go and catch the BFF today, private message me! It would be nice to meet face to face with some of the forum members!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/14/western-tulku-buddhist-film-festival?newsfeed=true

Did I know you in a past life?

Gesar Mukpo is a tulku, the reincarnation of a Tibetan teacher. He is also the son of an English mother and Chögyam Trungpa, who brought Buddhism to the west by means of cigars, heavy drinking and affairs with students. By John-Paul Flintoff
The Guardian, Saturday 14 April 2012

n 1900, a child was born in Tibet. He would become a great Buddhist master. In 1960, he died while imprisoned by the Chinese government. And then? "In 1973, he was reborn in America ... as me," says Gesar Mukpo. The tradition of reincarnation arose in 16th-century Tibet. When an enlightened teacher died, a young child would be recognised as their reincarnation, and assume leadership of the monastery and surrounding villages.

The children were called tulkus. Some became great teachers, like the present Dalai Lama, and for hundreds of years the tradition remained unchanged. But in the 1970s, as Tibetans fled from Chinese occupation, tulkus began to be discovered in the west. Gesar was one of them, recognised at the age of three by a Tibetan master visiting California in 1976. "He informed my family that I should be enthroned immediately." And so he was.

Gesar's father, Chögyam Trungpa, was himself a famous Buddhist teacher and author. But there was to be no monastery for Gesar, who was 13 when his father died, 25 years ago.

Now Gesar has made a film, Tulku, examining the bewildering plight of the western tulku. It is one of the main features at the International Buddhist Film Festival in London (11-15 April), – along with another film, Crazy Wisdom, about his extraordinary father.

Chögyam was born in Tibet and recognised as a tulku at 13 months old. As a young man, he fled the brutal Chinese occupation of Tibet, on a hazardous journey to India that cost many of his companions their lives. Soon after, he came to the UK, won a scholarship to study at Oxford, and eloped with a 16-year-old barrister's daughter, Diana Pybus. Her mother, on learning that Diana had married a Tibetan guru nearly twice her age, fainted. The story ended up on the front pages of national newspapers, including the Sunday Mirror under the headline "Diana, 16, runs away to marry a monk".

Chögyam made it his life's mission to bring Buddhism to the west. He moved to Scotland and people came in droves to learn from him. And in 1970 the show moved to America, where he immersed himself in American culture. It was here that he fully elaborated his hallmark "crazy wisdom".

He wore western clothes ("When you talk to people with robes on, they don't listen to you, they just look at the robes"). He smoked cigars, drank heavily, and had relationships with his students. His teachings were unpredictable. Once, he made his hippy followers cut their hair and wear suits and ties. Later, he founded a non-violent military force, and made them drill for hours in uniform. His talks were often very funny. In 1974, he opened the first western Buddhist university, Naropa Institute in Colorado. Visitors included religious figures from other traditions, and celebrated writers and performers such as Allen Ginsberg, William S Burroughs and Joni Mitchell. "It was a really odd, crazy life," says Gesar.

Chögyam already had two sons when Gesar was born in 1973, one of them by another mother. Diana subsequently had two more sons, by another man, and adopted a daughter. (There is a 25-year age difference between Gesar's eldest and youngest brothers.)

Many people have families as interesting as this. Some also have charismatic fathers. But it is rare to be told, aged three, that you are the reincarnation of your own father's dead teacher. But for Gesar this provided a powerful connection to a father who was much in demand. "My father respected me," he says fondly, "and would listen to what I had to say. He treated me like a reincarnated lama – like the king of another country."

As a child, it seemed normal to be a tulku. Indeed, Chögyam's students would sometimes ask Gesar for advice. But increasingly, as he got older, it troubled him. "On the superficial level you think, is this person's soul real or not? But the purpose is to continue the teachings of specific teachers. When a tulku is recognised, you make this a part of his life and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy."

At least, that's how it worked for the Dalai Lama, the son of a poor farmer. But Gesar was born in the west, far from anybody other than his father who could pass on the teachings. And Chögyam was away a lot. The whole family moved around, and Gesar went to 17 schools in several countries. (In the early 80s, he attended a school in Sussex. "You had to wear a blazer, shorts, socks and cap. I liked it, but it was weird, I was one of the only foreigners – just me and an African kid.") He now lives in Canada.

Did his father, who had long ago renounced his monastic vows, provide a useful model? Or was the wisdom too crazy?

Gesar says he was aware that his father had lovers. "It would need six months in therapy to tell you how I felt in regard to that. But at the time I thought it was normal that my dad had, like, seven wives."

The Buddhist teacher and author Pema Chodron, herself a student of Chögyam, says he didn't hide anything. Indeed, he told Diana shortly after they married: "It's not that I don't love you. I'm never going to be a conventional husband but you can completely rely on me." She was distraught, but came to accept it. He even brought round her mother. "He worked hard to build a relationship," Gesar recalls. "He wrote her a lot of letters, and they became close." Eventually Diana's mother moved to live near them.

People tried to get Chögyam to stop drinking. They took petitions, wrote letters and tried watering down his wine. But the heavy drinking contributed to his premature death, aged 47. Thousands of people attended the open-air cremation, in Canada, with the body in plain sight. "It was very sad, very intense," says Gesar. "There are amazing, powerful, magnetic people who have a profound impact: how do you deal with not having them around?"

Aged 15, he went to Nepal to study Tibetan. He was welcomed at the monastery, but after a year felt homesick and decided he didn't want to stay there for the rest of his life. "I've often wondered if I made the right decision."

For a while after that, he rejected Buddhism. "I didn't want to be a part of it any more," he says. But being a tulku is not easily forgotten, because it's as much about other people's expectations as your own.

Gesar's brother, Ashoka, is also a western Tulku. (In Tibet it was not unusual for more than one Tulku to be born into the same family.) When Ashoka was enthroned, in Tibet, the younger brother of the previous incarnation approached him – a very old man, with tears streaming down his face.

Ashoka had no idea what to say. He recalls the awkwardness in Gesar's film: "I don't know. I don't know … what the fuck. Oh, God."

Ashoka concluded that he was not cut out to be a teacher. "But I still think I can be of benefit to somebody, and that's what being a Buddhist is about." (He works at Human Rights Watch.)

Gesar, too, calls himself a Buddhist, these days, and remains close to the teacher he met in Nepal. (Dzongsar Hyentse Rinpoche teases him: "We are waiting for him [Gesar] to do what he has to do".) And now Gesar has a child of his own – a daughter, aged seven – but he wants her to find out later about her family's special place in Tibetan Buddhism.

"Whether I'm a tulku or not is insignificant," he concludes. "I have a tremendous connection with my father, and his heritage. They will always be a part of my life whatever I do. I will never know for sure what my father had in mind for me. But there is no certain path for any of us, other than the path of self-discovery."

Tulku and Crazy Wisdom are showing at the Apollo Piccadilly Circus, London, at 3pm and 6.30pm respectively.

www.buddhistfilmfoundation.org/
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

Tammy

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2012, 03:57:26 AM »
Thanks Wosdom Being, I like the article about this Westen Tulku very much.

Well Tulkus should not be limited to lamas of Eastern origin. The fact that Buddhism had established a stronghold in the West (thanks to the Chinese Government for chasing the lamas away, thank you thank you, LOL) it is not surprising that many highly attained lamas would take rebirth as Westerners so that they could continue to turn the wheel of dharma in a more efficient way, the main advantage being able to speak the language perfectly.

It is no doubt that there will be more and more Tulkus of Western origin coming forth to spread Buddha's teaching to the world.
Down with the BAN!!!

Lineageholder

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2012, 06:37:00 AM »
It surprises me that Trungpa is glorified these days, even though his actions contradict Buddha's basic teachings on moral discipline, but sincere practitioners of Dorje Shugden who try to observe pure moral discipline are vilified.

Samsara, eh?

What's the benefit of a Teacher showing addiction to alcohol, drugs and sexual misconduct?  How does that encourage one to enter the path to liberation and enlightenment?

Ensapa

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2012, 01:43:03 PM »
It surprises me that Trungpa is glorified these days, even though his actions contradict Buddha's basic teachings on moral discipline, but sincere practitioners of Dorje Shugden who try to observe pure moral discipline are vilified.

Samsara, eh?

What's the benefit of a Teacher showing addiction to alcohol, drugs and sexual misconduct?  How does that encourage one to enter the path to liberation and enlightenment?

Well, coming that half of Gelug's lineage Gurus are actually mahasiddhas who drink wine, eat meat and have multiple consorts, such a statement is pretty hilarious. Holding vows are essential to Dharma practice but to get all self righteous about it as if it is the only way and any other way that differs from our own view or from the view we are familiar with is pretty much a downfall by itself.

Even the first in Dorje Shugden's line of incarnations, Virupa showed wrath and cruelty towards a village of stubborn people and drank alcohol, and exhibited his supernatural powers. So..How does that encourage one to enter the path to liberation and enlightenment? Look at the results. What he did brought the entire village into the Dharma. If he can whatever methods used is irrelevant to us.

What's the benefit of a Teacher showing addiction to alcohol, drugs and sexual misconduct? Heard of Dombi Heruka? He left his kingdom for his consort, and Ghanthapa had children with his consort too, Tilopa, Luipa ate live fish guts. So again, what's the benefit? Again, look at his disciples and the people they manage to drive into the Dharma.

The ladies that Chongyam Trungpa slept with all became Dharma teachers. Can you do that? Can anyone do that? If they can, why not? Why not have more Dharma teachers than needing teachers to teach in only the methods you approve? Not criticism, but this is something we should think about. Why are we so shocked and unhappy when a teacher does not behave the way that we expect them to? Who are we to judge?

hope rainbow

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2012, 02:26:03 PM »
I agree with you Ensapa, indeed who are we to judge?
The results, the long-term results show that Chogyam Trungpa was a true mahasidda.

On the matter of the tulkus in the West, it is subject to debate indeed.
The NKT is following the advice from their Spiritual Leader to not recognize tulkus.
And maybe the western world is not ready to deal with tulkus as it needs a very stable and organized spiritual system, or is it?
Also, it is less likely that the  parents would welcome the news that their son is a tulku like it is in Tibet or Bhutan, and willfully send their child to the care of monks.
But maybe the West will come with new ways... After all the karma of tulkus can cause for them to continue their spiritual journey.
This will be an interesting development to follow in the Western world.


Ensapa

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2012, 03:00:21 PM »
I agree with you Ensapa, indeed who are we to judge?
The results, the long-term results show that Chogyam Trungpa was a true mahasidda.

On the matter of the tulkus in the West, it is subject to debate indeed.
The NKT is following the advice from their Spiritual Leader to not recognize tulkus.
And maybe the western world is not ready to deal with tulkus as it needs a very stable and organized spiritual system, or is it?
Also, it is less likely that the  parents would welcome the news that their son is a tulku like it is in Tibet or Bhutan, and willfully send their child to the care of monks.
But maybe the West will come with new ways... After all the karma of tulkus can cause for them to continue their spiritual journey.
This will be an interesting development to follow in the Western world.

I'd say that a few high profile tulkus in the west had "failed" in doing their duties to bring the Dharma to people, or that have engaged in conduct that brought about disastrous results. It's not a secret that Penor Rinpoche died because the 2 Tulkus he recognized, Steven Segal and Akon Lhamo did not listen to his instructions or carried them out fully.

I'm not really criticizing, but before he passed away, Penor Rinpoche did say that since nobody listened to him, he might as well shut up for good, and later passed away. Steven Segal has not manifested any tulku like activity to date, and Akon Lhamo has engaged in several actions that brought misunderstandings to the people around her although she might have a higher reason but it was not apparent and people actually go the wrong idea.

I do not really know the full extent of the story, but from the few sources that I have heard, they both point to Penor Rinpoche's obvious disappointment of them both. Perhaps in the light of this, GKG has decided to not recognize any western tulkus to prevent this from happening. Also, this could give room for people who want attention and recognition to recognize their own children as tulkus when it is not so.

Last but not least, since NKT has broken off from the monasteries, how would anyone after GKG confirm any tulkus, and with that, opens the window to abuse and fraud since there is no way to verify anything. Also, the current system in NKT does not require a tulku to continue the teaching program which is why they dont really need any.

DharmaDefender

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2012, 03:13:37 PM »
Ensapa, seems rather contradictory. First you tell us were not in a position to judge AND you say that you do not know the full extent of the stories, but then you judge Steven Seagal. Im not particularly keen on the man but how do you know what hes done so far is not Tulku activity? And perhaps Penor Rinpoche manifested disappointment in both him and Akon Lhamo. I believe Penor Rinpoche wouldve known the effects of recognition on them, so why did he recognise them anyhow?

Your right, were not in any position to judge so lets stop judging, shall we?

Ensapa

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2012, 03:56:05 PM »
Ensapa, seems rather contradictory. First you tell us were not in a position to judge AND you say that you do not know the full extent of the stories, but then you judge Steven Seagal. Im not particularly keen on the man but how do you know what hes done so far is not Tulku activity? And perhaps Penor Rinpoche manifested disappointment in both him and Akon Lhamo. I believe Penor Rinpoche wouldve known the effects of recognition on them, so why did he recognise them anyhow?

Your right, were not in any position to judge so lets stop judging, shall we?

Sharing information that does not appear to be the whole story and stating that it is not the whole story does not sound contradictory to me because I am only presenting what I have heard. In fact, the original piece of information was even nastier and degraded both tulkus and I have toned it down by a lot, but it ends with Penor Rinpoche being disappointed with first few western tulkus he recognized.

I have heard that Steven Segal is keeping a few close students around from a very short clip that featured him in Words of My Perfect Teacher, and in the clip, he was saying that a lot of people were skeptical and kept challenging him but he is the real deal. Also shown were some of his close students in his residence with him. So I think it is tulku activity but i dont think it was enough, or else why would Penor Rinpoche said such things?

Akhon Lhamo has more stories, which you can look up on the internet on the not so nice things she did, along with her Dharma activity which was quite extensive as well. Again, I do see that as tulku activity but the piece of info i received were about them being disappointments due to them not doing enough as tulkus. In fact, this was present at the wiki page about tulkus sometime back.

Im not here to judge but im here to share information that makes us think deeper. Me sharing information does not mean I indulge in it or take its side. Information sharing is information sharing and it is done with the intention that it can perhaps make us see something. If you want to think that I am, feel free to do so but i am clear with what I want to present.

Let me reiterate, this does not mean that both of them are bad, its just that perhaps, their students lack the merit to have a full-fledged Lama to teach them. 

dsiluvu

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2012, 05:40:21 PM »
I've seen this movie... thought it was a rather interesting perspective from the Tulkus themselves. It shows us that they are humans too with the great expectations that folls upon them just cause they are recognise as a Tulku. This can be a trmendous pressure on them.

However one thing interesting is that the very core nature of all their characteristics is still kindness and compassion and finding different ways to benefit others or spread the Dharma... even through film making! This  has been the highlighting fact in the movie that it is far more important then the label it self. It also shows that real Tulkus will always fin ways to benefit others weather they are on a throne or on the streets :)

Positive Change

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2012, 05:28:57 AM »
Quote
Sharing information that does not appear to be the whole story and stating that it is not the whole story does not sound contradictory to me because I am only presenting what I have heard. In fact, the original piece of information was even nastier and degraded both tulkus and I have toned it down by a lot, but it ends with Penor Rinpoche being disappointed with first few western tulkus he recognized.

It is important to give accurate accounts of both sides of the story to present a non biased view. But of course that is just me. ;)

By the way, I also found out the following:

His Holiness the Third Drubwang Padma Norbu (“Penor”) Rinpoche, 11th Throneholder of Palyul Monastery, former Supreme Head of the Nyingma tradition, described as a rather unassailable figure in Tibetan Buddhism,[32] officially recognized Ahkon Lhamo in 1987 as the tulku of Genyenma Ahkon Lhamo during her visit to his Namdroling Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India.[33] As is customary, Penor Rinpoche sought confirmation of his recognition before announcing it. He received it from both His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–91), the then Supreme Head of the Nyingma tradition who was on a teaching visit to Namdroling at the time, and the most senior Palyul tulku, the Second Dzongnang Jampal Lodro Rinpoche (d. 8/87).

Hence it was confirmed by not only Penor Rinpoche but the then head of the Nyingma tradition. Surely they are cannot be wrong? Perhaps it is not the fault of the reincarnate tulkus but the karma of the people!

I also found out this about Ahkon Lhamo:

The first Genyenma Ahkon Lhamo, a meditator recognized as a primordial wisdom dakini was one of the main disciples of Terton Migyur Dorje (1645–67) and sister of Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab, Migyur Dorje’s Dharma heir and the First Throneholder of Palyul Monastery (founded 1665). She is remembered both as being instrumental in the founding of Palyul (now one of the Nyingma’s Six Mother Monasteries and for leaving an extraordinary relic. During the cremation of her body, her kapala (top half of the skull) is said to have flown three kilometers and come to rest at the foot of the teaching throne of her brother. Found to be miraculously embossed with the sacred syllable AH, the kapala became one of the most treasured relics at Palyul monastery.

AH seed syllable seen in Ahkon Lhamo's Kapala
Penor Rinpoche has recounted how, as a young tulku in Tibet (he was recognized and brought to Palyul Monastery in 1936, at the age of four), inspired by seeing the skull relic, he made prayers to find Ahkon Lhamo’s incarnation. Though most of the kapala relic was pulverized into dust during the Cultural Revolution, one Tibetan man managed to save the silver dollar-size piece on which the syllable “AH” appears. Penor Rinpoche acquired it from him on a return trip to Tibet in 1987. He had it preserved in a crystal lotus and presented it to Jetsunma just prior to the occasion of her enthronement ceremony at Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC) in 1988. The relic remains at KPC and is displayed on auspicious days (see image at right).


Sounds to me like a pretty special being... hence surely the recognition cannot be wrong... something else must be!!!

Tenzin Malgyur

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2012, 07:30:57 AM »
Since tulkus are enlightened beings, they can control where they are taking a rebirth to benefit more people. This is one of the way Tibetan Buddhism is spreading out far and wide from Tibet. There are now more and more high lamas reincarnating into Western countries. And from these countries, they can further spread Buddhism to more places.

Barzin

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2012, 09:46:13 PM »
Until now i don't really understand the tulku system.  Personally I think a "Tulku" comes back for a reason, to spread dharma.  However, it is just like what everyone is saying there are different level of Tulkus.  I guess it does come from previous life.  The more dharma activities you did in previous life, the more imprints there are.  Hence in current life when the karma opens, it will open that imprint and everything will seem familiar...  However, I am also guessing the higher level Tulkus are able to control their destiny, this include high level practice to be able to know the past, present and future lives...  Therefore to my guessing, not all Tulkus "know" what they are suppose to do...  But I have always have this curiosity, is it possible that a high level Tulku reincarnated and choose not to embark in any dharma activities?  Then what happened to the imprints?  What if a Tulku does not want to carry our his duty?  Will he degenerate? But clearly know the consequences?  With his good deeds in his previous life carried forward to the next life and it'll be exhausted in this very current life? 

This Tulku system no doubt is one of the highlight for the Westerners as well as the Asians.  This is the direct proof that reincarnation exist hence future lives...  Tulku or not, I guess even Tulku will have a hard time spreading dharma in this degenerate age.  So it is better to practice dharma and not focus too much on the Tulku system.

Lineageholder

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2012, 10:42:54 PM »
Holding vows are essential to Dharma practice....

That's all that needs to be said.  I rest my case that simply shagging one's students and indulging in worldly pleasures to excess (to premature death!) does not make a Mahasiddha, because if it did, ordinary beings with raging attachment would be Mahasiddhas.

kurava

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2012, 02:45:21 AM »
From the sharing here, it can be safely summarized that :
1)  tulkus are bodhisattvas in training
2) they  need conducive conditions for further training .
3) according to dharma texts, only bodhisattvas of the 8th ground have stabilized their training or meditation without the possibility of degeneration, therefore without the necessary continuous training, some tulkus have moved away from dharma.

As such, the mere recognition of tulku will not necessary bring benefit to the recognized person. However, I have the good fortune to meet a tulku with very strong imprints of  previous lives' practice who  strived against all odds to continue his bodhisattva's deeds in this present life.

NKT moved away from the tulku system in the light of it's breaking away from Tibetan Buddhism. Without this support system, GKG has to make such a decision. It was said that GKG informed his students that " if he is what he is, he will find his own way back to NKT in his next rebirth even without the tulku support system"

yontenjamyang

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Re: Tulkus highlighted in the British news
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2012, 08:55:33 AM »
This topic about Tulkus are very interesting. I am not an expert but have met some Tulkus before. I would like to share my personal experience here.
Initially I thought all Tulkus are Buddhas and manifest as such. I expect them to be with to instantly know everything without anybody telling them and I expect them to be "nice" and "faultless. In other words I expect them to be "perfect".
When I met my first Tulku, my "expectations" started to change. He seems like a normal human being, can't fly, needs to be told informations and has human"weaknesses". What a disappointment! Other Tulkus I met was the same.

But then, these Tulkus were also very wise, spout real Wisdom with the Dharma, hold their vows, has pure Guru Devotion and challenge us to practice Dharma and bring happiness to beings and ourselves. These Tulkus taught the Lamrim, DS practice and tailored practices to all their students according to each individual's ability. This I can see. The result is clear. They bring benefits to ALL.

So, my conclusion? I do not have a clue of what a Tulku should be. Our expectation is faulty. Even if we are near a Tulku we cannot judge not the mentioned those far from us.  If a person wears a monk's robe, we should regard the person as a member of the Sangha; one of the 3 Jewels.  If a High Lama recognize a Tulku, we should regard that person as an incarnate being..a Buddha Jewel.

Ask ourselves, what we can do to bring happiness to others, not what the Tulku can do or should be!