In Tibetan Buddhism, a spiritual leader. Some lamas are considered to be reincarnations of their predecessors; others have won respect for their high level of spiritual development. The most honored of the reincarnate lamas is the Dalai Lama; second in spiritual authority is the Panchen Lama. The process of discovering the new incarnation of a lama, especially the Dalai Lama, is elaborate and exacting. Oracular messages, unusual signs during the lama's death or during a birth thereafter, and examinations of candidates identify a successor. The child thus identified as the lama's incarnation is given extensive monastic training from an early age.
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