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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
94 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY patRuL anD the LeaRneD geshe Once, a learned geshe, an erudite scholar from the Geluk tradition, decided to debate the renowned scholar Mipham Rinpoche. Mipham at that time was staying in Dzachukha at Juniong Monastery, so the Geshe headed off in that direction. Along the way, it occurred to him that he ought to test out his debate skills first by debating and defeating a few lesser Nyingmapa scholars. One night, when he stopped, he asked the local people if they knew of any Nyingmapas around who knew enough philosophy to be able to debate. One man said, “Well, in a hut up in the forest there’s Patrul. He knows a bit about books.” The Geshe was disappointed not to have found a wellknown scholar to practice on. Nevertheless, he made his way through the forest and climbed up to Patrul’s retreat hut. Patrul’s retreat helper had warned Patrul of the Geshe’s intention to visit and practice debating. As soon as his helper told him the Geshe had arrived, Patrul picked up his wornout sheepskin coat, turned it inside out, and put it on so that all the fur was on the outside. He lay down on his bed, putting his head at the foot of the bed and his feet at the head of the bed on his pillow. The Geshe knocked at the door, but Patrul did not answer. After knocking several times, the Geshe slowly opened the door. He saw Patrul lying in bed, with his feet on his pillow and his head at the foot of the bed, wearing a sheepskin coat with its fur turned inside out. The Geshe said, “Why are you lying that way? Can’t you tell the head of a bed from the foot of a bed?” “Dear lama, you’re not very good at logic,” Patrul replied brightly. “The head of my bed is where my head is. The foot of the bed is where I place my feet.” Rattled, the Geshe remarked, “Odd of you to wear your sheep skin coat inside out, with the fur on the outside and not on the inside.” Patrul shrugged and pointed out, “I’m wearing the fur on the outside and the skin on the inside—just the very same way the sheep do!”