His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born on July 6, 1935 to a peasant family in the small village of Taktser in northeastern Tibet and was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of His predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Buddha of Compassion, who chose to take rebirth to serve humanity. Dalai Lama means Ocean of Wisdom; Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yizhin Norbu, the Wish-Fulfilling Gem, or simply Kundun, the Presence.
When the Thirteenth Dalai Lama died in 1935, the Tibetan Government had not simply to appoint a successor, but to discover the child in whom the Buddha of Compassion would incarnate: the child need not have been born just at the death of His predecessor, or even very soon thereafter. As before, there would be signs of where to search. For example, when the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s body was laid in a shrine facing south, His head turned to the east twice, and to the east of his shrine a great fungus appeared on the east side of a pillar of well-seasoned wood. The Regent of Tibet went to the sacred lake of Lhamoe Lhatso, where Tibetans have seen visions of the future. There he saw, among other things, a monastery with roofs of green jade and gold and a house with turquoise tiles. A detailed description of the entire vision was written down and kept a strict secret.