Unmistaken Child
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Unmistaken Child

2009, Religion  -   45 Comments
Ratings: 7.86/10 from 28 users.

Unmistaken ChildThe Buddhist concept of reincarnation, while both mysterious and enchanting, is hard for most westerners to grasp.

Unmistaken Child follows the 4-year search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, a world-renowned Tibetan master who passed away in 2001 at age 84.

The Dalai Lama charges the deceased monk's devoted disciple, Tenzin Zopa (who had been in his service since the age of seven), to search for his master's reincarnation.

Tenzin sets off on this unforgettable quest on foot, mule and even helicopter, through breathtaking landscapes and remote traditional Tibetan villages.

Along the way Tenzin listens to stories about young children with special characteristics, and performs rarely seen ritualistic tests designed to determine the likelihood of reincarnation. He eventually presents the child he believes to be his reincarnated master to the Dalai Lama so that he can make the final decision.

Stunningly shot, Unmistaken Child is a beguiling, surprising, touching, even humorous experience.

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45 Comments / User Reviews

Leave a Reply to Donald Edward Goodman Cancel reply

  1. Lou

    Wow, so many comments on a video that no one can see. Why do you even put it here if we have to buy it at Amazon?

    1. merits

      Available in Amazon

  2. Sergiy Popov

    There is not such a concept in Buddhism as reincarnation.

    1. Shibani Shrestha

      buddhism's central belief is karma and reincarnation.

  3. dak8859

    Fascinating documentary. If you are one of those people who feels every culture must be like your culture, don't watch it. But if you want a fascinating and sometimes moving glimpse into one aspect of Tibetan Buddhism, this is well worth your time. One of my favorite all-time documentaries.

  4. Donald Edward Goodman

    Tibetan Buddhists are the most peaceful religious folks on the planet. I cannot say that about Islam, Christianity, OR JUDAISM. ALL are full-of EVIL beings, who follow Muhammad or Yahwey. Jesus couldn't possibly be "Jehovah" in-the-flesh. Jesus was a kind and loving man. Jehovah is a evil wicked, mean and nasty "God." Satan killed about 60 people in the old testament. Yehway had others MURDER MILLIONS! I'll never forget the one where "God" sent down evil, in the form of two "she bears" are TORE APART 42 CHILD fun of a bald dude! EXPLAIN THAT ONE TO ME! Now you tell me, WHO would you fall down and worship? Quite frankly, I do not believe in the Jewish "God" Jehovah, OR his so-called "Son of man." They are OLD STORIES. RAPED FROM PAGANISM, the EGYPTIAN RELIGION, AND THE JEWISH RELIGION.
    I was forced as an 8 year old, to memorize the 10 commandments. It seems Jehovah forgot to even mention things like RAPE, KIDNAPPING, AND SLAUGHTERING INNOCENT PEOPLE! IN fact, HE ORDERED IT DONE!
    Anyone who NEEDS the 10 commandments to "be good:" has no consciousness, or self-respect. (Which is MUCH different from "self-righteousness!") A thing all three "western religions" suffer from. (Muslims too) "Jehovah" is a JEWISH GOD. Christians even stole him too.

    1. Debbie

      Wow. What did your parents do to YOU...

  5. sanujams

    The fact is each religion has mixed with cultural values causing huge problems in this world. Buddhism itself has NOTHING to do with this the same way Christianity has NOTHING to do with KKK. Dali Lama is a CIA terrorist.

    1. Donald Edward Goodman

      SHAME on you, Lord God sanu

  6. tenzin woiser

    people below me think he is trapped by his destiny, the kid actually was very sure and he gets the best eduction, shelter, the village can offer, money is collected for school in monastery. second the kid either becomes a farmer or can leave to anywhere when he is good as he was before or just have to be 18. its not prison people it is actually the best form of education available there he can be able to read and write. learn arts and crafts plus, astronomy, buddhist philosophy and be able to help people. there's also debate among monks. so fun. its actually better to be in the monastery than a farmer. my uncle became a monk and has much knowledge.

  7. blahblahbob

    the voice of reason has different intonations, it just depends on who's listening to it...

  8. Lord_Kral

    One of the most beautiful forms of child abuse I've seen.

  9. David Foster

    It's a wonder that we even claim to respect other cultures.

    1. blahblahbob

      how do you mean?

  10. Ken Campbell

    I cant say I agree with this. Even if he is the reincarnated soul of the person he was before, his life path should be his to choose. What is there to be learned in a second life that is just a replay of the first? I do believe in reincarnation. Each new life is an entirely different learning curriculum. Only through many lives do we learn what it is to be beautiful, shunned, rich, poor, healthy, sick, powerful, powerless, the taste of success, the agony of defeat, the incredible fire of the heart known as true love or the withering touch of loneliness. Each life is meant to enrich and add intricacy to the soul, to eventually learn life through all of its facets and once all have been learned, lived and experienced perhaps we transcend into something higher no longer requiring physical bodies or restricted by such paltry things as space and time. Not gods but beings of energy able to see the unseen and travel the multiverse at will. What most in their limited scope would call angels I suppose but which are nothing but graduates of the flesh.

    1. siru

      real path buddshim is not country .......why he want country......such nasty

    2. Donald Edward Goodman

      You all seem to be missing the point here. Unlike the Jewish people, who ALL believe THEY are "the chosen ONES," it is the greatest honor possible in Tibetan Buddhism, to be THEE "chosen one." There IS NO greater honor. For the child, as we as for the parents. You need to stop thinking in Christian theological terms. Since it appears no one here does, lets just say "it's his JOB!"

    3. David

      In the movie the child wanted his mother and father, he was crying for them, not the big uncle. If the child was mine, I would never give him up. I would let him choose his way after he was 16, or 18. A real buddhism doesn't make different in sense either you are married family man or a monk.
      By the way, I was told that the child is related to the big uncle who was his real uncle, but the movie said nothing about it.

  11. blahblahbob

    i find some of the comments on this film to be a little unfair towards this culture. in the west, if someone were to tell you that your child was an heir to a kingdom full of prestige and monetary riches, most people would consider it unfair to stop this child from fulfilling his destiny. even if it meant losing custody of the child most people, i believe, would not stand in the way of such a one in a billion turn of events. yet if a child is given over in the east for prestige and riches, not monetary, but of the spirit, we tend to see it as sad or bad for the child or chalk it up to a lack of concern on the parents part. i just dont think that, as a westerner, i can begin to understand what this feels like for all involved. that being so, i shall not condemn them for it.

    1. Guest

      Its sad because the boy is too young to decide for himself, by the time hes old enough there won't be any choice. He will be a monk, not a rich kid with the world at his feet.

    2. blahblahbob

      how many choices, in the early part of your life, do you believe you made for yourself? and whos to say he does not have the world at his feet? maybe not a material world, but i feel the problem with your logic is that you assume what you know as good is the only good in the world, which obviously it is not, no insult intended. he may be given a much better life in the monastery, and maybe one day as he lyes dying he will say what the other lama said: i have had a good life and have no regrets. whos to say?

    3. Guest

      Hey BBBBob, no offence taken :) Your right, as a mini person I had no choice in anything. I was thinking with my heart. I have no doubt his life will be ok but its not with his family. They obviously love him or they would not have done what they did, thinking it would be best for him. I do wonder if they were swayed by the flattery or by the tradition and did not make the decision completely freely. It is my idea of what is good, based on how I would feel if it was my kid. I can only guess at what I would do if I was them. I meant choices about his life when he gets older, about his future, wife and kids etc and all the ordinary things he might miss out on being closeted away. We have done some fostering over the last few years, not one of the kids, no matter how bad home was, wanted to be anywhere but home. I only speak from my own experience, it upset me to see it. Lets hope he can still think for himself and if he should so decide, find a way to leave. For all I know they might get that option when they're older :)

    4. blahblahbob

      first off, thank you so much for not getting angry and letting this conversation delve into name calling... second, point well made and received. in the end one can only hope he turns out happy and that the people in the monastery give him a bit of room to experience the life we should all have the freedom to experience, atleast to some degree. but what if he goes on to reach like ultimate nirvana and total enlightenment? we will feel silly for worrying i guess... nice talking to you! keep up the good work, this place needs all the help it can get!

    5. Guest

      Lovely,looks like we arrived at the same place by different roads, just wishing him happy. I don't really worry about the name calling, sticks and stones. What I dont like is the idea that Uni smart is the only smart. That isn't an option for a lot of people, doesn't make them stupid. Catch ya round :)

    6. blahblahbob

      your right on the uni thing, i have learned many great lessons in life and, honestly, my 2 years at uni were the most controlled and boring years i have had thus far. but i didnt even go to university til i was 26 and married, so what do i know? it may have been fun to party or something, but i was a little skatepunk, stoner party animal as a kid, so i had it out of my system by then. take it easy.

    7. Chi

      IMHO, this child did choose for himself, rather clearly. It sure looked like he was far advanced in his awarenesses, AND that he deliberately chose things that got him on the path of returning as a Lama.
      It's a long, slow process, never done in haste.
      He or the parents could have stopped it at any time.
      Sure, brief doubts happen--those were clear on the parent's and family's faces, as they were when the finality of the parents leaving sunk in on the boy.
      All normal responses to doing something very hard to do.
      NONE of them take this lightly. It is a heavy, deep responsibility that greatly affects everyone.
      One main difference:
      THERE, people see complex Sentience even in babies; they respect and honor it; some babies show they are farther advanced than others--these get noticed especially.
      Responsibility is given to children appropriately as they grow; they are assisted gently to do bigger more complicated things, sooner than later.
      OTH, In the West, people mostly believe babies are dumb things, needing much coddling to get them to adulthood, who cannot have any responsibilities until they are older and more coordinated.
      OR, parents lack ability to guide sentient children properly to more fully develop a baby's abilities.
      I respect that children there are given responsibilities appropriate to their abilities--treated respectfully as evolved, sentient, learned beings with a fruitful past, even when in tiny, uncoordinated, new bodies.
      They are helped with careful deliberate intent so the child develops their highest potentials--even living on that rustic farm.
      Yes, emotionally it's hard. All involved understand the gravity of the situation.
      Logic prevails over or balances Emotions, there.
      That would be very hard to see happen in the West--though it HAS happened, with a child found in the Seattle area.
      Perspectives one grows up with, unchallenged, can become stultifying and limiting--these people seem to have overcome that.
      The West is largely still struggling with that.

  12. judygreen2010

    This is a great doc, I saw it this past year and watched it three times! It's fascinating and very well done.

  13. Guest

    I watched this one earlier but coun't bring myself to comment yet.
    I must say, i liked it, beautiful scenery, well done, and very intimate into the life of people we would not normally have access to.
    The fact that the parents accept to let their child go away at such a young age is very strange to our society but it has been a practice in buddhism that is respected and accepted, almost like a mark of good fortune for a child. I felt like if they were asked: Can you give your child to be offered as sacrifice and thrown in the volcano? They still would have answered yes in the name of buddhism.
    When the child is tested to see if he is the reincarnation, they almost seem to guide his hand. The child looked pretty happy most of the time and his caregiver has at one point a very very real love in this eyes towards this diety.
    Despite this strange practice i enjoyed the doc because it shows me a reality not easily accessible.
    To know that the Dalai Lama supports this practice even though he has been in contact with cultures from everywhere in the world....was more puzzling to me...and it made me wonder how much longer it would continue.

    1. Achems_Razor


      Dalai Lama? I met the Dalai Lama and his entourage some years back in Kelowna BC we talked about Nirvana and the seven steps. He came across as just a very normal human being, easy to talk to.

    2. Guest

      Are you friend with Carey Linde?

    3. Achems_Razor

      Az, who is Carey Linde?

    4. Donald Edward Goodman

      I might add here, MUCH UNLIKE MOST CHRISTIANS!

    5. siru

      dalia lama is agent of usa i dont like him, he is nasty!! did you know he gave his follower stool , is a( prasad) called a such a nasty dam agent ............

    6. siru

      at frist you know about black site ........than you know man....

    7. Donald Edward Goodman

      and we hear from another Muslim! Or even as bad, another self-righteous JW or Christian.

  14. Mickie Brandon

    Is it any more "pathetic" than the Christian belief in Jesus' death and resurrection? Egocentricity is unbecoming to you WiseGapist.

    1. WiseGapist

      It is certainly no more pathetic than a Christian belief system or any other religious dogma - I'm insulted that you thought I was commenting from a Christian viewpoint and that 5 people could like a comment that made that baseless assumption... ^^

      So, you want to talk about egocentric views on this site?^

      I choose not to call people egocentric because I take it as a given here. Whenever you 'correct' a person on anything other than pure, unarguable fact, you are exercising your supposedly superior and more informed view, or displaying an inability to abide by the assumed 'truth' of their opinion, and so indulging egocentric traits. I don't claim to be above such inclinations, and given your unfounded speculation about my earlier viewpoint and the subsequent post, it would seem, neither are you.

  15. WiseGapist

    How pathetic of people to hold such beliefs. An interesting insight into their customs but it was just making me annoyed.^^

    1. Angela Allen

      How pathetic of YOU to judge other people's beliefs! An interesting insight into your narrow view but you just make me annoyed.^^

    2. WiseGapist

      A person's actions are defined by their beliefs, are you so slow to judge people's actions?

      All human behaviour and belief must come under scrutiny or there can be no logical progression. - Oh no, you couldn't possibly judge another person's beliefs? How dare I judge a Nazi for hating Jews, or a religious extremist cheapening the lives of people who don't follow their religion (Christians and Muslims alike)?

      Is that pathetic of me to feel that THOSE people are incorrect and socially damaging in their belief? You think this doc is different because these guys are monks? They are abducting a child because of the belief system I'm supposedly pathetic to judge^^ You can go on saying 'hey everybody can believe what they like, there's no wrong answer' but in the REAL WORLD people's misguided, ignorant belief systems hurt other people...

      Like I said, beliefs are the foundation of actions, and we cannot have society without deeming some actions (namely those that inflict harm on others) as unacceptable. Of course I'm an advocate of 'if it doesn't hurt anybody, you should be allowed to think, feel or do wtf you like' but the origins of damaging actions cannot fall outside of societal judgement.

    3. sknb

      Can't everyone agree that sometimes its ok to judge, necessary in fact, while other times it is neither moral or required?

      It doesn't have to be one way or the other.

      That complexity is interesting to debate, thanks to both of you for bringing it up.

  16. Guest

    This is heartbreaking, and wrong.

  17. LINDAM

    Very enjoyable and strangely peaceful, I feel kind of sorry for the parent's it must be hard to give up a child but the little guy seamed to know what was expected from him so I agree with anuragwasthi it must be a transmigration of memory

  18. Abraham Anand

    Astounding! this documentary made me question myself about the perception reality and our purpose of existence.

  19. anuragawasthi

    Buddha denied the existence of a soul...........The correct word has to be transmigaration of memory...........reincarnation is a Hindu philosophy