Crazy wisdom is at play when a spiritual teacher embodies uncompromising compassion paired with over-the-top creativity. These powerfully and magically transfigure the scene of teaching in order to help students to wake up.
Crazy wisdom is a “by any means available” situation. Some of the moves associated with crazy wisdom are rapid pivots from tenderness to fierceness to hilarity, or just fierceness in general; acting in ways counter to the expectations that students have of spiritual teachers, or generally provoking, or scaring or shocking students; refusing to treat anything as nonspiritual, a.k.a. using every and any circumstance as a vehicle for practice; and energetically engaging students in the wild creativity that is fundamental to existence.
Although Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche coined the phrase, stories about crazy wisdom teachers are a part of the spiritual inheritance of every direct realization tradition. Even in the absence of a specific crazy wisdom teacher, traditions offering a more direct approach to self-realization, such as Dzogchen, Trika Shaivism and Chan Buddhism, naturally embody crazy wisdom in their teaching methods to some degree.
For instance, both of my traditions, Trika Shaivism and Dzogchen, deploy specific sharp mantras to induce mild shock and clear conceptual mind. They also feature a more playful, unpredictable and fierce style of teaching. I heard this memorable aphorism during a teaching with the wonderful Kagyu meditation master, Lama Wangdor. “When the lion of Mahamudra roars, many are scared off. But the cubs come running for the milk.” Read On…