Battle of the Future Buddhas

Two different boys claim to be the reincarnated master of a popular school of Buddhism

The prize is a crown, about eight inches high, said to be woven from the hair of holy women. The stakes: assets worth $1.2 billion and the reverence of up to a million followers. The alleged weapons: forgery, lies and murder. The contenders? Two little boys, 8 and 10.

To many Westerners, the most familiar figure in contemporary Buddhism is the Dalai Lama, the point man for Tibet's aspirations to escape Chinese control. But among American Buddhists, his Gelugpa teachings are equaled in popularity by those of the related Kagyu Karma, or Black Hat, sect. Hence the consternation -- "a lot...

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