Many years ago, I discovered the writings of Chogyam Trungpa. Specifically, his phrase Crazy Wisdom was something that felt very familiar to me. When I read his books, I pictured wise men and women – usually in India – acting counter to social norms, laughing when laughter was not expected, giving someone a rock after a question was asked of them, and generally acting in counterintuitive and illogical ways. Although I had not met such beings, I felt that I had an inkling of intuition about this state.
I felt a freedom emanating from the idea of Crazy Wisdom – a letting go like no other. At the time, I wanted so much to be free of all of societal constraints, and imagined how I could navigate life as easily as a breeze, or a cloud, or an ocean wave. Since a very young age, I sought this freedom before I had any vocabulary or spiritual teachings to express my yearning. In silence, I held that feeling of freedom near and dear.
I’ve learned since then that people in the West often cannot recognize an enlightened being, and would not likely be able to tell if someone is wise or confused, or just another person walking by. That is no surprise because, at first glance, an enlightened being looks just like everyone else – and most don’t wish to be recognized. No white or saffron robes. No face paint. No prayer beads. Just presence.
It is so easy to project one’s own thoughts and ambitions and fears onto an awake being without even sensing the projections for what they are. It can feel so natural to dismiss innocence as slow intellect, naivete, or a lack of understanding. And the awakened one cares not. He or she simply continues to be innocently present – even while all this drama is going on – steeped in bliss as pure awareness.
The Western world makes it challenging for such beings to be who they are. Unlike in India and Tibet, where wise men and women are respected and welcome, the West has a very fixed set of norms. If the awakened one wishes to have a job in the mainstream marketplace, he or she encounters much resistance and misunderstanding just by virtue of being there. There may be comments about that person’s unconventional approach and countless projections about what this being is thinking or feeling – but all are projections nonetheless. Regardless of endless criticism, circumstances do change toward the positive around such a being, but he or she is not cencerned with receiving appreciation and acknowledgement – he or she has no need for these.
So, how can we tell if a person is awake or crazy? Now, there is no clinical definition of crazy, and insanity has a very specific definition in legal settings. Psychologists talk about perseveration, which is “compulsive, hopeless, helpless, automatic and unsatisfying” behavior. However, in my travels, I’ve encountered crazymaking, which I describe as any acts that promote agendas and limit interconnection of ideas and people. I’ve observed that when people do not fully listen, ask few question, have little or no genuine interest in others, and push ahead with their own agendas, the atmosphere becomes toxic. Such people are rigid in their perceptions, but may even consider themselves awakened or wise. Awake beings have no agenda, but they are no patsies either – they know what’s up.
What fascinates me is that people who have an agenda to “be right,” “know it all,” “have the answers,” “get approval”, “be the best/smartest/most attractive/most talented,” or even to literally want to hurt others, may have no idea that they are driven by such agendas. They interrupt others while pretending to listen, toot their own horn, put words in other people’s mouths, project emotions onto others, and spread negative comments in person or online. They leave toxicity in their wake – of course, there are degrees of toxicity. Is this not crazymaking? Does this have anything to do with an open, innocent being who moves in unconventional ways and, perhaps, uses unconventional words to simply express?
Awake beings come in all shapes and sizes, and behave in a myriad of ways. Some let go of this life’s norms completely. They are as compatible with illusion as oil and water, and always give freely of themselves to those in need – what else can love do?
Those who are connected to an awake being will recognize them for who they are and see an opportunity. Others will simply walk on by. And all is as it should be – as it is. There can be no crazymaking in Crazy Wisdom because, in full awakening, there is no ego to run the show – and it is such a show….