Mad Monk – Gendun Chöpel

Gendun Chöpel was brilliant. As a student he beat all his teachers at debating points of dharma. In his first monastery he specialised in taking positions that could not be won in traditional dharma debates – and winning them. His greatest was to take the non-Buddhist view of the Jains, who contrary to Buddhists believe that plants have consciousness, and leave his fellow students unable to gainsay him!

As a result he was kicked out.

Alas! After I had gone elsewhere,
Some lamas who can explain nothing,
Said that Nechung, king of deeds,
Did not permit me to stay due to my excessive pride.

Arriving at the famous Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, one of the three important Gelug monasteries, he signed on with a tutor famous for his defense of Tsongkhapa. The two did not get on! Often they were heard having shouting matches with each other over dharma points.

Chöpel went to India for twelve years where he learnt the arts of love, and like the sixth Dalai Lama became known for his poetry. He regretted his countrymen’s use of Sanskrit texts as amulets rather than translating them into their own language. When he returned he tried to teach them the ideas from outside their land, such as the world not being flat.

I have written facts,
Unheard of in the Land of Snows.
Because of my poor and ragged appearance,
No one is there to heed my words.

At one point he was put in prison and all his writings taken.

Today you can read some of these works as well as his life story.

Source: Gendun Chophel

Film: Angry Monk

Life Story: The Madman’s Middle Way

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