June 5, 2023

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From a Buddhist Monastery in India to the Valleys of Zitaguaro: The Journey of Ocel Hita, the Spanish Boy Lama who renounced the monastic life

Ozel Hitta Torres identifies himself as a student and father of humanity. The 38-year-old from Granada rejects any title of mentor or teacher. If anything, he assures, he shares his experience, which is no small one: at the age of 14 months he was recognized as the reincarnation of Buddhist teacher Lama Thubten Yeshe. Under the protection of this declaration, his parents allowed the child to be separated from them and brought up in a monastery in South India. In 1987, at the age of two, Ozel ascended the throne as the reincarnation of a Tibetan master, and four years later he entered the Sera Je Monastic University, where he lived and studied until the age of 18, at which time he renounced the monastic life. West in its own way.

Hitta Torres, the only Westerner declared by the Dalai Lama to be the reincarnation of a Buddhist teacher, brings to the present her first years teaching in India: living with other children, studying, playing, walking barefoot in the fields. “All food is organic, no televisions, no screens. “It was difficult for me not to know my family, not to grow up with my parents,” he admits. At the age of four, he already knew whose reincarnation he was, and at age seven he decided to leave the monastery when he became an adult. “I’m not superior, I’m like everyone else. , because I saw other children in my situation and it affected them so much, they believed that they were gods, I didn’t want to, I looked at them and said: ‘I’m not. ‘It doesn’t want to be,’ he explains.

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Ironically, he now reveals, as soon as he set foot outside the monastery, he began to take full advantage of the teachings of Buddhism: his first loves, his becoming a nude beach, living on the street. He points out that all these have been added to his life experience. “It took me three months to shower naked, I spent three months in a swimsuit, on a nude beach with a t-shirt, but for me it was a job and I wanted to overcome all my fears, and after three months I jumped into the sea without clothes, it was a change, it was a rebirth. , in fact, it was a special moment for me, I started to change. I want to live my life, I want to be happy, if I live life, if I know better what people think, I’m not going to live my life, but other people’s lives “, he pushed away .

Ocel Hita Torres in a frame from the documentary ‘Ocel’ (2022).HBO Max

His self-investigation took him to many countries and latitudes: from Spanish nude beaches to living in the streets of Venice and Naples for two months. From being an enthroned lama to living in the wilderness. “When I lived on the streets, people treated me like I did when I was a lama, and for me it confirmed that people treated me well, not because of the name they gave me, but because of who I am, because of my attitude and how people interact with me. I am anonymous I wanted to be, more on the street, I had nothing to offer,” he recounts.

This journey into the world to explore, at the same time, confronts his most intimate beliefs and fears. At one point on that trip, he retraced his steps to meet his teacher in India. At the time, he noted, it was not well-received for someone who had left the Tibetan system to return to a monastery, but opened a loophole that others now followed. “I come from two very different cultures, I have both sides. If I go East with a Western culture, it will create controversy, and if I go West with an Eastern culture, it will also create controversy,” he says.

Although he studied philosophy and cinema, he is an environmentalist through his foundation Global Timber Initiative, it’s clear that Hita Torres’ main focus is being a father and being close to his five-year-old son. “I give him development, so he has emotional stability, he has everything to be a happy and productive human being, that’s a legacy for me. Obviously, I teach him Tibetan, if he wants to learn, I give him all my knowledge little by little, but “I don’t expect anything from him because I’m not going to make the same mistake. That they expected a lot from me and did that to me. I’m a kid, I’m a kid, they expect a lot from me, and that creates a lot of stress for a kid, it’s a lot of pressure,” he asserts.

Ozel Hita with his son.Courtesy

North of Barcelona, ​​in a town of 800 people and a few meters from where her son and his ex-partner live, Hitta Torres juggles her time between talks and retreats. During his second visit to Mexico last April, he taught a course in Jitaguaro, Michoacán. In these gatherings, he tries to share his experiences to help people find their own inner harmony. “It’s not knowledge, it’s experience, it makes a lot of mistakes, it takes a lot of risk. I always pushed myself into the void. Most people never jump into a vacuum out of fear in their lives. What I seek is to empower each person so that each person can be a leader in their own life and contribute to others,” he describes.

The man from Granada has social networks, but he does not use them. In his speeches around the world, he emphasizes the need to restore consumption habits and ancestral values ​​to achieve a better quality of life. “We’ve been living as tribes for thousands of years, and now suddenly they give us mobile phones, put us inside six walls and expect us to believe that we live in total isolation, and then what happens. ? We seek recognition, to connect with others, we have Instagram, Facebook, which somehow changes the aspect of human warmth that is in our genetics, and now we all seek Instagram, Facebook, like, But they will tell me that it is completely delusional, what is the use of four or 500,000 in life. Like it“, he reveals.

Hita Torres, who was estranged from her parents and her eight siblings in the early years of her life, points out that the relationship with the family is now cordial, but not close. “I did not grow up with my family, so I have a somewhat distant relationship, but I see them often, I love them very much, we are very good friends, but I consider myself an orphan, I did not grow up with my family, nor with my parents,” insists .

Ozel Hitta Torres, 38 years old. Courtesy

Although he left the Buddhist monastery at the age of 18, he has learned over the years the value of that extraordinary experience when he ascended the throne as the reincarnation of a lama as a boy. “I had a chance, I became stronger, I learned many things, I had a very difficult and unique childhood. I could never give up on my son, I can’t, but my parents were able to do it, and I thank them, because ‘OK, my “We are going to give that opportunity to the son. It is dangerous,” he opined.

His life experience, as a child from Albuquerque, caught the attention of director Lucas Figueroa, who commissioned a documentary about his life through HBO in Spain. Regarding documentaries, Hitta Torres notes that she decided to participate in the project to convey what she experienced. “I was anonymous for about 20 years until I decided to come out and it seemed important to me to have that opportunity to reach more people. The beautiful thing about this series is that it’s very transparent and it has taken a lot of weight on me. I had to act a lot when I was a kid. , it was part of the job, and one of the reasons I wanted to leave (the monastery) was because I didn’t want to act anymore. I preferred making mistakes to faking perfection,” he concludes.

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