A fascinating biography of Drukpa Kunley, a Tibetan Buddhist master and crazy yogi. Drukpa Kunley, the most famous of Tibet's crazy wisdom masters, is a patron saint of Bhutan and an enduring figure throughout Asia. Known for his outrageous, daring antics, Drukpa Kunley was unafraid to cross certain societal boundaries in the interest of waking people up. A legendary figure in some ways more mythic than human, Drukpa Kunley has been called many things: madman, yogi, scholar, drunkard, philanderer, great mahasiddha, and the list goes on. He is one of Tibetan Buddhism's most complex and interesting masters, and he remains an essential part of Bhutanese culture today. This book is a creative retelling of Drukpa Kunley's life story based on historical accounts and autobiographical sketches. Consulting a variety of sources including folk tales and first-hand ethnographic research in Bhutan, Monson infuses the saint's life-story with flourishes of magical realism and references to his superhuman capacities. This book begins with an introduction to Drukpa Kunley and the historical and religious context of his time. This is followed by the biography itself, a captivating journey through his life story up until his death in 1529. Tales of a Mad Yogi portrays a figure whose bawdy, irreverent behavior allowed him to rouse ordinary folks out of habitual ways of thinking. He is the proverbial trickster, often the subject of jokes and stories in Bhutan, who in spite of his wild tendencies is revered as a second Guru Rinpoche, protecting the country from demonic spirits. This book highlights his many complexities and reveals a true embodiment of crazy wisdom.
ELIZABETH MONSON, PhD, is the Spiritual Co-Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship and the Managing Teacher at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge. She is a lineage holder in the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and has been studying, practicing, and teaching in both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions for nearly 30 years. She has studied with Tulku Orgyen Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Gyalse Tendzin Rabgye, and others.Monson completed a PhD in the Study of Religion from Harvard University with foci in Buddhist Studies, Tibetan Buddhism, and Ethics in 2015. She has lectured at the Harvard Divinity School and teaches at different venues around New England.