This is interesting. The Dalai Lama empowered a young Spanish boy as an incarnate Lama. Now 24, the young man, Osel Hita Torres,is moving in another direction with his life (update on the Shambhala Sun blog). Lots of good questions on how 21st Century Buddhism might unfold within this story.
This case certainly highlights the difficulties of bringing the incarnate lama (tulku) system of lineage from Tibet
into the 21st Century. Personally, I don’t think the tulku system will
survive in the 21st century world for more than a generation or two. It
is simply too at odds with democratic, science-based society to
survive. Also, historically, there is nothing that necessitates it in
either the larger Buddhist lineage framework, or even in the system of
Tantric Buddhism, which survived in India for a long while before
anyone came up with the idea of reincarnated teachers.
Thanks to Rod Meade Sperry at the excellent blog The Worst Horse for the link.