Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Crazy Wisdom

The main keys to creativity, innovation, and wisdom include out-of-the-box thinking and an openness not bound by external influence, by religious, political, cultural, or philosophical prejudice and constraint. A glue that binds this constraint around us is thick with concern about what others think, positive and negative feedback, praise and blame. Clinically crazy people almost by definition lack this glue. Wise people also lack this glue without the clinically crazy part and this becomes crazy wisdom.

Versions of this understanding and experience dot almost all traditions: Christianity, Hellenism, Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism and Shamanism. Plato talked about it in his book, Phaedrus calling it theia mania. The Christian saint Isadora exemplified this as did 6th-century Saint Simeon, 15th century Zen master Ikkyu, Sufi saints Mulla Nasruddin and Moḥammed ʻAbdulle Hassan, Black ElkBlack Elk, and the Buddhist Mahasiddhas. the tradition. Similar understanding appear in Jewish and Eastern Orthodox schools, the Hindu avadhūta, and the Native American heyoka. William James called it the "abrupt change" religious approach and Eliade described it as an essential element in Shamanism.

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Quotes (123)

“I was doomed to sanity… Even a poet cannot get everything right.”

Lavinia 12th C. BCE via Ursula Le Guin
Prophetess and co-foundrer of the Roman Empire
from Lavinia

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“I—pig-headed, awkward, different from the rest—am only a glorious infant nursing at the breast.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Witter Bynner
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

20. Unconventional Mind

“It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish.”

Aeschylus Αἰσχύλος 525 – 455 BCE
The Father of Tragedy

“our fortune's course of action is the reeling way a madman takes”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Trojan Women

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE
from Republic Πολιτεία

41. Distilled Life

“It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours.”

Diogenes 412 – 323 BCE
(of Sinope)

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

18. The Sick Society

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness… To lead an orchestra, you must turn your back on the crowd.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

18. The Sick Society

“There is no genius without a mixture of madness.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE
(Lucius Annaeus)
from De Tranquillitate Animi

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“The people of this generation revere the dead prophets while rejecting the living ones. It has been so in every generation. The children of those who persecute you will build monuments to your memory.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Didymos Thomas
from Gospel According to Thomas

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

41. Distilled Life
18. The Sick Society

“When the midstream has become clear light—the indivisibility of appearances and emptiness—free of inhibition, you can wander in the villages as a crazy saint.”

Nirgunapa ནིརྒུ་ཎ་པ། (9th century)
"The Enlightened Moron" #57

“Don’t be predictable and guileless.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

18. The Sick Society

“When questioned with disbelief in his realization by a Zen master, Touzi said 'What point would there be in waiting until you believed it?'”

Touzi Yiqing 投子義青 1032 – 1083 CE
(Tōsu Gisei, “Zen Master of Complete Compassion”)

“In the time of the philosophers, as at every other period, there existed some of these fervent mystics. God does not deprive this world of them, for they are its sustainers.”

Al-Ghazali أبو حامد محمد بن محمد الطوسي الغزالي 1058 – 1111 CE
(Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali)
Philosopher of Sufism

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“These people are deluded from the first and yet it is such fools that call me mad.”

Kālapa ཀཱ་ལ་པ། 12th century CE via Keith Dowman
("The Handsome Madman")
Mahasiddha #27
from Masters of Mahamudra

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

41. Distilled Life

“The devil is not as black as he is painted.”

Dante 1265 – 1321 CE
(Durante degli Alighieri)

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“The day is ending, the way is long; my life already begins to stumble on its journey. I shall not keep promises, nor consider decorum. Let anyone who cannot understand my feelings feel free to call me mad… Abuse will not bother me; I shall not listen if praised.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Harvest of Leisure

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“What a strange feeling to realize I have spent whole days before this inkstone jotting down at random without order or purpose whatever nonsensical, trifling thoughts have passed through my mind. What a demented and crazy thing to do!”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE
Inspiration of self-reinvention

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“There is always some madness in love, but there is also always some reason in madness.”

Petrarch 1304 – 1374 CE

18. The Sick Society

“Recognizing the irrelevance of mass propaganda, realization becomes a world-shattering experience as we uproot ego, the familiar fades away, and we lose it's comforting normality.”

Longchenpa ཀློང་ཆེན་རབ་འབྱམས་པ། 1308 – 1364 CE
(Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer)
from Kindly Bent to Ease Us, Trilogy of Finding Comfort and Ease ངལ་གསོ་སྐོར་གསུམ་

“Folly is the only thing that keeps youth at a stay and old age afar off.”

Erasmus 1466 – 1536 CE
(Desiderius Roterodamus)
"Greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance"
from Praise of Folly

“The contempt which I had to fear because of the novelty and apparent absurdity of my view, nearly induced me to abandon utterly the work I had begun.”

Copernicus, Nicolaus​ 1473 – 1543 CE
Creator of one of history's greatest revolutions

Themes: Crazy Wisdom Fear

“You will say that I am old and mad, but I answer that there is no better way of keeping sane and free from anxiety than being mad.”

Michelangelo 1475 – 1564 CE
from Comment when 74 years old

“One must be a little foolish if one does not want to be even more stupid.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE
Grandfather of the Enlightenment

“Better to be wise with the many than a fool all alone.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #133
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

Jonathan Swift 1667 – 1745 CE
"Foremost prose satirist in the English language"

from Thoughts on Various Subjects (1703)

“If you wish to obtain a great name or to found an establishment, be completely mad; but be sure that your madness corresponds with the turn and temper of your age.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE
from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Fame Crazy Wisdom

“To be sane in a world of madman is in itself madness.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

41. Distilled Life

“Oh! how near are genius and madness! Men imprison them and chain them, or raise statues to them.”

Diderot 1713 – 1784 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“They should be ashamed of themselves, all these sober people!”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

22. Heaven's Door

“the fool who persists in his folly will become wise”

William Blake 1757 – 1827 CE

“Time is forgotten, the hours fly. People passing by point at me and laugh: 'Why are you acting like such a fool?' Do you want to know what's in my heart? From the beginning of time: just this! just this!”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE via Stephen Mitchell
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Madame de Staël 1766 – 1817 CE
(Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein)
"The greatest woman of her time"

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“My great comfort is, that the temporary celebrity I have wrung from the world has been in the very teeth of all opinions and prejudices. I have flattered no ruling powers; I have never concealed a single thought that tempted me.”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Socrates and Jesus Christ were put to death publicly as blasphemers, and so have been and may be many who dare to oppose the most notorious abuses of the name of God and the mind of man.”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE via V. Gollancz
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“If you want to earn the gratitude of your own age, you must keep in step with it. But if you do that, you will never produce anything great. For that, you must focus on posterity. Be like a man who spends his life on a desert island working to erect a memorial so that future seafarers will know he once existed.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via R. J. Hollingdale, Shan Dao
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“All but the sacred few who could not tame
Their spirits to the Conqueror, but as soon
As they had touch the world with living flame
Fled back like eagles to their native noon.

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from The Triumph of Life

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

41. Distilled Life

“The man who anticipates his century is always persecuted when living, and is always pilfered when dead.”

Disraeli, Benjamin 1804 – 1881 CE
(Earl of Beaconsfield )
Political balance between mob rule and tyranny

from Practical Politics

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often become the height of wisdom in the next.”

John Stuart Mill 1806 – 1873 CE

“I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.”

Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allen Poe 1809 – 1849 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE via Odell Shepard
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Journal, 1839

“Man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.”

Herman Melville 1819 – 1891 CE
from Moby Dick or The Whale

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892 CE
Premier "poet of democracy" and model for Dracula

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“in some cases, it’s more creditable to be carried away by an emotion that springs from a great love, however unreasonable. And this is even more true for youth. An always sensible young man is suspect and of little worth”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett, Shan Dao
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“If everything on earth were sensible, nothing would happen.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Pardon My Sanity In A World Insane.”

Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

18. The Sick Society

“for business reasons, I must preserve the outward signs of sanity.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

41. Distilled Life

“He is called a free spirit who thinks differently from what, on the basis of his origin, environment, his class and profession, or on the basis of the dominant views of the age, would have been expected of him.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Human All Too Human - A Book for Free Spirits

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“I myself do not believe that anybody ever looked into the world with a distrust as deep as mine... a constant, subtle, incitement to an overturning of habitual opinions and of approved customs.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Human All Too Human - A Book for Free Spirits

“Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.”

Nikola Tesla Никола Тесла 1856 – 1943 CE

“It is necessary for the welfare of society that genius should be privileged to utter sedition, to blaspheme, to outrage good taste, to corrupt the youthful mind, and, generally to scandalize one's uncles.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from The Sanity of Art

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy.”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

“Sanity is a madness put to good uses.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet

“Each work has to pass through these stages—ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Those who think ahead of their time are sure to be misunderstood.”

Swami Vivekananda ʃami bibekanɔnd̪o 1863 – 1902 CE
"The maker of modern India"

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“an honest being who does not behave absurdly has no chance at all of becoming famous, or even of being noticed, however kind and sensible he may be.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

41. Distilled Life

“The public will only stand genius in infinitesimal doses, sprinkled with mannerisms and fashionable literature...A ‘fashionable genius’!—doesn't that make you laugh?..what a waste of power!”

Romain Rolland 1866 – 1944 CE
“The moral consciousness of Europe”
from Jean Christophe Vol I

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“The modern mind is never popular in its own day. People hate being made to think... All things are at odds when God sets a thinker loose on the planet.”

Edith Hamilton 1867 – 1963 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom Hate

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 CE

41. Distilled Life

“Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces. Never will the world know all it owes to them nor all that they have suffered to enrich us.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien
Apostle of Ordinary Mind

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“We talk of wild animals but man is the only wild animal. It is man that has broken out. All other animals are tame animals; following the rugged respectability of the tribe or type.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

30. No War

“The soul demands your folly; not your wisdom.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE via Sonu Shamdasani
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Red Book, Liber Novus

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“The step to higher consciousness leads away from all shelter and safety.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

27. No Trace

“but after all and above all it depends on who is diseased, who mad, who epileptic or paralytic: an average dull-witted man, in whose illness any intellectual or cultural aspect is non-existent; or a Nietzsche or Dostoyevsky. In their case something comes out in illness what is more important and conductive to life and growth than any medical guaranteed health or sanity... in other words: certain conquests made by the soul and the mind are impossible without disease, madness, crime of the spirit.”

Thomas Mann 1875 – 1955 CE
Deep, psychologically insightful author
from An Appeal to Reason (1930)

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE
from Siddhartha

41. Distilled Life

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

41. Distilled Life

“it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who are filled with the highest kind of religious feeling”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE
from The World as I See It, 1934

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“When one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, ...then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“If it meant conventionality, meant slavery, meant deceit, meant denying her love, fettering her limbs, pursing her lips, and restraining her tongue, then she would turn about with the ship and set sail once more for the gypsies.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Orlando: A Biography

“Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all … is not to have one.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

41. Distilled Life

“If they give you lined paper, write the other way.”

William Carlos Williams 1883 – 1963 CE
from In the American Grain

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

70. Inscrutable

“Woe to whoever commences his life without lunacy... Happy the youth who believes that his duty is to remake the world and bring it more in accord with virtue and justice, more in accord with his own heart.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

41. Distilled Life

“We would go off to bill and coo, to thrill and woo, and all the dogs in Christendom might howl their moralistic protest unhonored and unheard.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Transition

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

53. Shameless Thieves

“The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and it can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone can open the mind of man to all that is hidden to others.”

Igjugarjuk (1885-??) via Knud Rasmussen
Eskimo healer, Caribou teacher, great Inuit shaman
from The Fifth Thule Expedition

“It's only by thinking even more crazily than philosophers do that you can solve their problems.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889 – 1951 CE
One of the world's most famous philosophers

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

41. Distilled Life

“The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar... Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

41. Distilled Life

“In the country of the insane, the integrated man doesn’t become king… He gets lynched.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“The Siddhas had rediscovered the direct way of spontaneous awareness and realization of the universal depth-consciousness which had been buried under the masses of scholastic learning, abstract philosophical speculation, hair-splitting arguments and monastic rules”

Anagarika​ (Lama) Govinda 1898 – 1985 CE
(Ernst Hoffmann)
Pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism to the West

from Way of the White Clouds (1966)

“Then you will say to them, 'Yes, the stars always make me laugh!' And they will think you are crazy.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

41. Distilled Life

“...they didn’t think there was anything very odd in anyone being a little odd.”

James Hilton 1900 – 1954 CE
from Lost Horizon

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

41. Distilled Life

“If people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter… We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain free within ourselves.”

Langston Hughes 1901 – 1967 CE
Pioneering elevator of Black culture

“We must learn to be different…If Wakan Tanka likes the plants, the animals, even little mice and bugs to do this, how much more will he abhor people being alike, doing the same thing, getting up at the same time, putting on the same kind of store-bought clothes, working in the same office at the same job with their eyes on the same clock and, worst of all, thinking alike all the time.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

18. The Sick Society

“A medicine man shouldn’t be a saint… He should be able to sink as low as a bug, or soar as high as an eagle…You can’t be so stuck up, so inhuman that you want to be pure, your sould wraped up in a plastic bag all the time.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

22. Heaven's Door

“If only I had the utter freedom to wander from one land to another with a madman’s behavior, chasing whatever comes to mind.”

Gendün Chöphel དགེ་འདུན་ཆོས་འཕེལ། 1903 – 1951 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.”

Grace Hopper 1906 – 1992 CE
(Grace Brewster Murray Hopper )

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“All of us who are more or less heretical in our society are forced to live on its margin, grateful that we are able to speak (at the cost of abnormal exertions) to a small audience.”

I. F. Stone 1907 – 1989 CE
One of the greatest 20th century reporters

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Curiosity and irreverence go together, cannot exist without each other.”

Saul Alinsky 1909 – 1972 CE
from Rules for Radicals

“Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE

67. Three Treasures

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE

13. Honor and Disgrace

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“there is very evidently one rather terrible hallmark common to all persons who look for God, and apparently with enormous success, in the queerest imaginable places—e.g.investigating loaded ashtrays with an index finger—he very frequently behaves like a fool, even an imbecile.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close… the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the ‘normal people’ as they go about their automatic existences… Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence.”

Timothy Leary 1920 – 1996 CE
Pioneering psychonaut, performing philosopher, and counter-cultural hero

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“I'll thank you to remember that not so many years ago men were burned at the stake just for saying the earth went round the sun!”

James Clavell 1921 – 1994 CE
Fictionalizing and fictional historian
from Tai-pan, 1966

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Much of what we call History is the success stories of madmen.”

John Holt 1923 – 1985 CE
from How Children Fail

41. Distilled Life

“We eat reality sandwiches. But allegories are so much lettuce. Don't hide the madness.”

Allen Ginsberg 1926 – 1997 CE

33. Know Yourself

“Some people are born mad, some achieve madness and some have it thrust upon them”

R. D. Laing 1927 – 1989 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves… because they're dysfunctional to the institutions.”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –

41. Distilled Life

“Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune.”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –
from Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

33. Know Yourself

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Beings who have wisdom intelligence often become isolated eccentrics because ordinary-minded people cannot accept their Wisdom Mind phenomena... Because wisdom eccentrics see all the connections between the visible and the invisible elements, they want to express what is true according to sublime actual relative truth.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)
from Magic Dance (1981)

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Alone in my room, feeling totally cut off from the rest of society…it struck me that I was in the position of so many of my favorite characters in fiction: Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov, Rilke's Malte Laurids Brigge, the young writer in Hamsun's Hunger. It was not a position I relished . . . Yet an inner compulsion had forced me into this position of isolation.”

Colin Wilson 1931 – 2013 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“All through history there's been these kind of divine losers that just take a deep breath and go ahead—knowing that society's not going to understand it—and not even caring, because they're having a good time.”

Ken Kesey 1935 – 2001 CE

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

58. Goals Without Means

“Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy... or they become legend.”

Jim Harrison 1937 – 2016 CE
"untrammeled renegade genius”

“human society has always been propelled by the visionary few... represented by the freaks, the mutants of whatever calling, who deviate and dissent from the prevailing order of consciousness.”

José Argüelles 1939 – 2011 CE
from Shambhala Review (1976)

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“… crazy wisdom is absolute perceptiveness, with fearlessness and bluntness… being wise, but not holding to particular doctrines or disciplines or formats. There aren’t any books to follow, only endless spontaneity… all activity is created by the environment.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

41. Distilled Life

“In the case of primordial craziness of crazy wisdom, we do not permit ourselves to get seduced by passion or aroused by aggression at all... crazy wisdom becomes completely accurate out of the moment of things as they are... if anything comes up in the midst of that complete ordinariness and begins to make itself into a big deal, then we cut it down... Crazy wisdom is just the action of truth.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Crazy Wisdom (1972)

“The bandits of hope and fear are subdued and all experiences are transformed into crazy wisdom.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee
from Sadhana of Mahamudra

“And if my thought-dreams could be seen... they'd probably put my head in a guillotine.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

41. Distilled Life

“The siddhas' action is not our ordinary action, although it may appear so on the surface. Quite the contrary is true, for their action is styled 'non-action.' Like the Toist concept of wu-wei, it is unmotivated and objectless... all actions have the same value. It is only the prejudices and limitations of the observer's dualistic mind that see one set of actions as harmonious, self-less and 'divine' and another as unconventional, outrageous, or insane.”

Keith Dowman 1945 CE –
from Masters of Enchantment

“In the country of the insane, the integrated man doesn’t become king… he gets lynched.”

Amy Tan 1952 CE –
Rock and roll singer, bartender, and insightfully talented author

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“There is no escaping the barbarians because they are the life behind what we think of as life.”

Peter Kingsley 1953 CE –
from A Story Waiting to Pierce You

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Those who make a difference do so because they are different… prepared to… ignore the warnings and rewrite the rules; plush back the barriers of the impossible.”

Peter Kingsley 1953 CE –
from A Story Waiting to Pierce You

“No one ever understood my wild and secret ways... I was in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms.”

Louise Erdrich 1954 CE – via Love Medicine

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“Those who do not pursue praise and gain, those who do not shun criticism and loss may be stigmatized as insane because they cannot be lured by material gain, don’t look for thrills, have no face to lose, never do anything to impress people.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

41. Distilled Life

“Like Jesus, whom he blasphemed, admired, and at times resembled, Shelley would take no thought for the morrow. He stood to lose personally from the social revolution he preached... Unlike the average radical, then, Shelley didn’t just challenge social taboos; he openly violated them, living his personal life in accordance with unpopular principles like equality, women’s rights, and free love. As a result, he became so reviled in England that he had to emigrate”

Adam Kirsch 1976 CE –
from The New Yorker

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

“The image of James taking a bow to the jeers and catcalls of the audience has become one of the primal scenes of modernism, and James is revered as the Master partly because of his willingness to wager everything—popularity, fortune, happiness, life—on his vision of artistic perfection”

Adam Kirsch 1976 CE –
from The New Yorker

Themes: Crazy Wisdom