A primer from Roger Jackson, a religion professor at Carleton College in Northfield.
• “Lama” is the Tibetan translation for a Sanskrit word meaning “guru.”
• A “tulku” is the reincarnation of a known spiritual guru, Tibetan Buddhists believe.
• Although all Buddhists believe in reincarnation, this system of identifying religious figures is unique to Tibetan Buddhism, dating back to at least the 13th century.
• Lamas typically are identified when they are young.
• They often are placed in a monastery, where training stresses debate and ritual.