His high-pitched voice echoes inside the Columbia Heights bedroom that his father has transformed into a lavish prayer room. In here, the 4-year-old forsakes his cartoons and toys to study scripture and learn to pray the Buddhist way.
Big for his age, he looks bigger still perched on an ornate chair draped in crimson and saffron robes. "Only for lamas [gurus]," explains his father, Dorje Tsegyal, sitting cross-legged on the floor at his son's feet. Jalue Dorjee, you see, is believed to be no ordinary boy.
According to the highest authorities of the Tibetan Buddhist order, he is the reincarnation of the speech, mind, and body of a lama, or spiritual guru, who died in Switzerland six years ago. Jalue is said to be the eighth appearance of the original lama, born in 1655. His discovery in 2009 is considered an honor and a blessing for his working-class parents. But it comes with a hefty price. More plus VIDEO