The film “Unmistaken Child” is remarkable in many ways. As a cultural record it documents the process of discovering, (or is it “choosing”?) and testing the re-incarnation of a Lama in a young child. As a transformational story it movingly depicts the fulfillment of a personal destiny — that of Tenzin Zopa, the young monk who seeks and finds the reincarnation of his deceased master Konchog Rinpoche.
What moved me most, besides the grief of a peasant mother loosing her young child to monasticism, was the devotion and love of Tenzin Zopa for his deceased teacher. His unwavering conviction that it is his duty to nurture the forces of goodness and kindness in his master, now a child, is never explicitly pitted against the raw separation of the child from his parents, but it is clear at every turn that he knows this is for the child own good and the welfare of all other beings to be taken from his home and raised in a monastery.
The transformation of Tenzin Zopa doesn’t end with finding the child or having him “unmistakenly” identified as a reincarnated lama. It is clearly also the beginning of his new role as a parent, teacher and mentor. In a certain way Tenzin Zopa himself is the reincarnation of Konchog Rinpoche and now has the task of transmitting to the child what he has learned from his former master. Beginning with humility and devotion, which he has in abundance.