A Beginner's Guide to Crazy Wisdom
Things you can do to hone your crazy wisdom consciousness
Crazy wisdom is more than a tradition—it's something you can taste and try. A good place to begin is with The Essential Crazy Wisdom, by Wes "Scoop" Nisker (Ten Speed Press, 2001). It's a somewhat sketchy history of the crazy wisdom tradition around the world—but its strength lies in its wonderful assemblage of life-changing quotes and stories. Tidbits like “Reality is a wave function traveling backward and forward in time” (physicist John L. Castri), “Only the shallow know themselves” (Oscar Wilde), and “God has no religion” (Mahatma Gandhi) keep your brain nicely off-balance, and Nisker's Buddhist-tinged skepticism about ultimate issues like God is bracing, even though it gives somewhat short shrift to the devotional side of crazy wisdom.
For things you can actually do to hone your crazy-wisdom consciousness, look into Shaving the Inside of Your Skull, by Mel Ash (Tarcher/Putnam, 1996), which is jammed with offbeat exercises. Cover your own eyes, shout “Guess who!” and see what you say. Write a story in first person, switching your gender. Invent a new superstition (“Wearing red socks on Wednesday will attract wealth”). To humorously dislodge yourself from habitual routines, spend half an hour referring to yourself as “the robot.” (“The robot is a little bored. The robot has to go to the bathroom.”) Ash even shows you how to invent your own religion—quoting the advice of LSD guru Timothy Leary, who should know. Begin with Goals, Roles, Rituals, Space-time Locales, Mythic Context. Move on to rituals and costumes. “You will eventually find yourself engaged in a series of sacred moments which feel right to you,” writes Leary.