A Monk Fathering A Child?

This is a story about one of the great Tibetan kadampa masters of the 11th century, the monk Langri Tangpa who wrote the ‘Eight verses of mind training’:

There was once a woman who gave birth to a baby girl. The woman had already lost one baby and was frightened that her baby girl would also die. The woman told her mother how worried she was and her mother told her that children given Geshe Langri Tangpa to be looked after would not die.

Later, when the little girl fell ill, the woman took her to see Geshe Langri Tangpa, but when she arrived she found him sitting on a throne giving a teaching to a thousand disciples. The woman began to worry that her child would die before the end of the teaching.

She knew that Geshe Langri Tangpa was a Bodhisattva and would show patience, and so she walked up to the throne and in a loud, rude voice she said: ‘Here, take your baby. Now you look after her!’

She turned to the audience and said: ‘This is the father of my child’, and then turned back to Geshe Langri Tangpa and pleaded softly: ‘Please don’t let her die.’

Geshe Langri Tangpa just nodded his head. As if he really were the father of the child, he wrapped it tenderly in his robes and continued his teaching.

His disciples were very suprised and asked him: ‘Are you really the father of that child?’ Knowing that if he were to say no, the woman would have been thought crazy and the people would have laughed at her, Geshe Langri Tangpa said that he was.

Although he was a monk, Geshe Langri Tangpa acted like a real father for the child, delighting in her and caring for her.

After some time the mother returned to see if her daughter was well. When she saw how healthy the child was she asked Geshe Langri Tangpa if she could have her back again. The Geshe then kindly returned the girl to her mother.

When his disciples understood what had happened they said: ‘So you are not really the father after all!’, and Geshe Langri Tangpa simply said: ‘No, I am not.’

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