I was having trouble dropping off to sleep the other night. I wasn’t worried about anything, nor was I feeling uncomfortable. It just so happened that after snuggling into bed, I became alert and energetic. Eventually, I clicked on the bedside lamp and rummaged through the stack of books nearby.
The subject matter is somewhat deep but not in a scholarly way. Crazy Wisdom is a book that has restored some of my common sense in an uncommon way. This thought made me chuckle. Uncommon, common sense is indeed a crazy concept.
In so far as we divide our lives into practical and spiritual compartments, Trungpa looked at it differently. “When one learns a different way of dealing with the situation, no one has to have a purpose. One is not on the way to somewhere. Or rather, one is on the way and one is also at the destination at the same time.” If you’ve ever tried “Insight Meditation” you’ve experienced something like this.
In this book, Trungpa says that crazy wisdom is experiencing the mind that has the quality of early morning. That is “fresh, sparkling, and completely awake.” At this point, I wondered why am I reading a book about ultimate wakefulness while I have the goal of dropping off to sleep. Who knows? We humans do crazy things all the time.
Trungpa’s book looks into the life of the esteemed Indian teacher who brought Buddhism to Tibet, Padmasambhava. The ancient guru said that spiritual practice does not bring comforting answers to confusion and pain. Mental comfort comes from acceptance. Meantime, spiritual practice takes discomfort and confusion and uses it as fuel for new discoveries. If we take the time for honest reflection and meditation, we can discover the wisdom around us.
Although the Rinpoche coined the term “Crazy Wisdom”, there has long been a history of the concept in Buddhism. The casual practitioner may remember stories about Zen and Buddhist renegades throughout the ages. Unlike most spiritual paths, when Buddhism derails into the swamp of dogma, a renegade is there to get the wheels back on track. Trungpa was one of those renegades.
Trungpa understood that religion and spirituality easily become dry and rigid. Crazy wisdom is the antidote. The secret is having a balance. Crazy wisdom does not mean a free-wheeling libertine existence. The practitioner must remain intimately aware of how his or her actions may enhance or degrade ones own and other people’s lives. We are encouraged to think outside of the box, but compassion is always at the heart of those thoughts.
Trungpa says crazy wisdom is having a free-thinking mind, a mind that isn’t caged in by cultural conventions and internal prejudices. It’s about living a life in the present without our perceptions being filtered through our concepts of the past or future and ideas we hold dear about things. Crazy wisdom is about compassion for oneself and everyone else.
Trungpa cautioned his students by saying, “Ego can covert anything to its own use, even spirituality.” Some people have accused Trungpa of going over the line in his own relationships with some of his female students. So following any teacher must be done with ones eyes wide-open. When taking up a path, it is best to be fully aware of any agenda the teacher or oneself may harbor. Crazy wisdom does not harbor any social agenda.
At the heart of Trungpa’s lessons was the sincere wish to help people discover their inate wisdom and compassion. He once said that the point of crazy wisdom and meditation is not merely to be a conventionally good, honest person. The idea is to cultivate compassion and wisdom, fundamentally. We find this by being open to relate to the world as it is, not as we wish it should be. “Therefore, the thing is not to battle anymore, not to try and sort out the bad things, and only achieve good, but to respect them and acknowledge them.”
An important aspect that Trungpa often stressed was that best of all, firsthand experience is most important. Real-life experience can confirm or debunk knowledge from all books, teachers, and traditions. Crazy wisdom is the courage not to conform to established patterns within you and without you. To exhibit the truth, you can speak gently, and your words will have power.
This overview was enough to center my mind for sleep. I noticed a Trungpa quote on the book mark. “Warriorship is a continual journey. To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life.”