In a letter in the July issue of Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Paul Bloom and Susan Gelman recount the selection procedures used to identify the 14th Dalai Lama. The then 2-year old boy was presented with objects that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama together with inauthentic items that were either very similar or identical to the authentic ones. When the boy succesfully and with no hesitation chose the authentic ones, he was chosen to be the 14th Dalai Lama. Bloom and Gelman present this story as cross-cultural evidence of the existence of essentialist beliefs: for the Tibetan bureaucrats that devised the selection procedure, the objects that belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama had come to possess an invisible essence that could only be discerned by the special powers of the 14th Dalai Lama. I wonder, however, whether this story really illustrates the belief in the existence of invisible essences in the objects presented to the little boy, or whether it illustrates the belief in the essential identity of the person of the Dalai Lama in his 1st, 2nd, 3rd… 13th and 14th manifestation.