Style & ShowbizShowbiz

Benedict Cumberbatch taught English to monks

Benedict Cumberbatch taught English to monks

Benedict Cumberbatch once taught English to Buddhist monks.

The 40-year-old actor spent a year in Nepal at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery working with the religious men to help them speak his mother tongue.

Benedict loved the experience as after his lessons he would go hiking with his friends see the beautiful sights the South Asian country had to offer and he used the time to explore philosophical ideas such as the nature of being.

He said: "I used to teach monks in the morning ... When I was at the monastery I read Fritjof Capra's book 'The Tao of Physics'. The thing about it is even if we can explain everything, the explanations are wonderful. I'm not rational at all. I hit walls trying to understand things in the universe. Things on a molecular level, or circadian rhythms. Those are fascinating, they're hard-wired into us. Every form of life has a circadian rhythm, from a cellular fungus to a human, to regulate our body clock. I think there's a spirituality in science, there's wonder in logic, and the world just gets bizarre the more you think about it."

Benedict's spiritually enriching trip to Nepal wasn't without it's dangers though.

The 'Sherlock' star got lost in the mountains during a hike with pals one weekend and they had to survive in the wilderness by drinking rainwater squeezed out of moss which resulted in him contracting dysentery - a severe type of gastroenteritis.

Speaking to ShortList magazine, he recalled: "We drank rainwater squeezed out of moss, we got altitude sickness, I had dysentery."

It is his interest in seeking out answers to some of life's most deep and difficult questions that attracted him to playing Doctor Strange in the upcoming Marvel movie of the same name.

The character Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange is an badly injured neurosurgeon who learns the mystical arts to become the Sorcerer Supreme, the protector of Earth, and was conceived in the 1960s at the height of the hippy moment and drug experimentation.

Benedict has always been fascinated by the 60s and admits he thinks it's a shame society doesn't still value some of the principles promoted in that decade.

He said: "I was intrigued by all of this. The experimental drugs, cults, psychedelics, spiritualism. Back then, people used those ideas to explore stuff they didn't understand. It was a form of bargaining. Now we know a lot more."