Segments in this Video

Reincarnation and Tibetan Tradition (02:28)


Read a brief introduction to Buddhist beliefs about reincarnation. Geshe Lama Knonchog was a revered Tibetan master who died in 2001. See the deceased lama's attendant and disciple Tenzin Zopa walking in the woods.

Funeral Procession (02:27)

Witness Geshe Lama Knonchog's funeral procession and cremation at Tibet's Kopan Monastery.

East to Dharamsala (02:02)

Tenzin Zopa describes the moment of the lama's passing. He and the other monks carefully sift through Geshe Lama Konchog's cremains, looking for a sign. They see a "footprint" pointing east in the ashes.

Difficult Task (02:44)

Senior Reincarnated Master Dagri Rinpoche charges Tenzin with finding Geshe Lama Konchog's reincarnation. Tenzin doesn't think he is capable of recognizing Konchog's mind in another person.

Premonition (04:02)

At Sera Monastery, Tenzin dreams of a little boy coming out of Geshe Lama Konchog's body. He sketches the surroundings at Kopan Monastery for the Abbot, who instructs him to send it to Taiwan for an astrological check. He feels lost because Konchog always instructed him on how to live.

Astrological Analysis (02:43)

Tenzin and the Abbot watch a video of a Taiwanese monk receiving the sketch of the Kopan Monastery surroundings. After a calculation process, the monk determines that the father's name starts with A and the child was born in the Tsum Valley.

Journey to the Tsum Valley (04:09)

Tenzin shows photos of Konchog. Senior lama Geshe Lobsang Tsering warns him against choosing the wrong reincarnate. He travels via helicopter over mountains in Nepal and is warmly welcomed by locals.

Grieving for a Lama (02:00)

Lama Konchong's disciples gather at Mu Monastery. Tenzin asks if they have heard about his reincarnate. They hope the high lamas will find him so they can see him again.

In the Field (02:42)

Tenzin hikes to Chulae to look for possible reincarnates. He asks farmers if they know of any 18 month old children. He asks a little boy his father's name and whether he recognizes Konchog's rosary.

Village Interviews (03:03)

Tenzin asks a woman her son's name and gives the boy a scarf. Continuing toward Chelae, he gives children sweets and asks whether they want to be a monk.

Travel Weary (04:23)

Tenzin walks throughout the Tsum Valley interviewing young children. In June 2003, a baby in Pangdun Village plays with Konchog’s rosary beads; his parents are hopeful he's the reincarnate.

Nature Appreciation (03:02)

Tenzin takes a break from his journey to meditate and look at flowers. He reaches Chekampar Village, his birthplace, and retraces the path to Konchog's cave. His family wanted him to marry and settle, but he asked Konchog to accept him as a disciple.

Geshe Lama Konchog's Retreat (03:58)

Tenzin visits his master's hut and recalls his love of flowers. The inside needs renovation. He prays and grieves.

Family Reunion (03:32)

Tenzin encounters his aunts while searching for Konchog's reincarnation. He asks if they know any young children in Ngagyur. They direct him to the Ahpe household.

Sign of Hope (04:02)

At the Ahpe household in Choekang Village, Tenzin meets baby Ngodrup, who takes possession of Konchog's rosary and won't give it back.

Return to Kopan Monastery (03:10)

Tenzin meditates on a mountain. He reports to his Abbot that he left Konchog's rosary with the Ahpe family. The Abbot tells him to keep the boy clean, and they will do more reincarnate tests.

Life Assignment (02:19)

Tenzin explains the importance of finding Konchog's reincarnate. In March 2005, he spends time with Ngodrup at the Ahpe family home in Choekang Village.

Reincarnation Test (06:02)

Monks participate in a Tibetan New Year ceremony. Tenzin presents Ngodrup to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who asks him to choose objects he used in his previous life. He selects the correct objects; the lamas chant a prayer.

Reincarnate Recognition (03:31)

The Rinpoches contact the Dalai Lama about the candidate. Two months later, Tenzin brings Ngodrup to the Dalai Lama in Amravati in Southern India. In a letter, the Dalai Lama had affirmed that Ngodrup was Lama Konchog's reincarnate.

Reluctant Lama Reincarnate (04:04)

Tenzin tries to shave Ngodrup's head with a nun's help, but Ngodrup gets upset. He finally calms down and allows Tenzin to continue.

Dalai Lama's Blessing (05:35)

Tenzin takes Ngodrup to a teaching given by the Dalai Lama. Afterwards, they meet him in private. The Dalai Lama renames him Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche after Konchog's pre-lama name.

Homecoming (02:08)

Tenzin takes Phuntsok back to his parents. He hopes they will agree to give him to the monastery, as Geshe Lama Konchog's recognized reincarnate.

Altitude Sensitivity (03:55)

Phuntsok's mother tells him not to cry; he is a lama now. His father and Tenzin take him to Konchog's retreat. On the way, he gets a nose bleed. His father finds medicinal herbs to stop the flow.

Phuntsok's Retreat (03:01)

The reincarnate lama claims Konchog's old meditation hut. Tenzin shows him how he prayed in his former life and promises to renovate and replant flowers.

Parental Sacrifice (03:56)

Tenzin explains to Phuntsok's parents that he's been recognized as Konchog's reincarnate, and asks if they will give him up to live in the monastery. They agree reluctantly.

Goodbye Ceremony (03:12)

Phuntsok's family and village see him off to the monastery. He blesses them with white scarves and leaves the Tsum Valley by helicopter with Tenzin.

Arrival Ceremony (06:13)

Phuntsok arrives at Kopan Monastery in March 2006. He takes a seat on the dais with the Rinpoche and blesses monks, nuns, and lay people.

Giving up a Child (03:06)

Phuntsok's parents say goodbye. He doesn't understand why they are leaving the monastery and is upset. Tenzin tries to comfort him.

Monastic Life (02:51)

Phuntsok plays with a Buddha statue while monks chant. He recognizes himself in a photo of Konchog and helps Tenzin prepare a meal.

Credits: Unmistaken Child (03:22)

Credits: Unmistaken Child

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Unmistaken Child



The Buddhist concept of reincarnation, while both mysterious and enchanting, is hard for most westerners to grasp. This documentary 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.

Length: 105 minutes

Item#: This title is currently not available.

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

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