Wes “Scoop” Nisker’s collection of aphorisms by holy fools, tricksters, Zen masters, and other contains the following overview of these devotees of the spiritual practice of play.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? I would like to have a word with him.
“A special kind of wisdom is loose in the world. This wisdom is difficult to codify or categorize; and it refuses to be institutionalized. It is called crazy wisdom. And so it is, both crazy and wisdom.
“Crazy wisdom is the wisdom of the saint, the Zen master, the poet, the mad scientist, and the fool. Crazy wisdom sees that we live in a world of many illusions, that the emperor has no clothes, and that much of human belief and behavior is ritualized nonsense. Crazy wisdom loves paradox and puns and pie fights and laughing at politicians.
“You will find crazy wisdom flowing through all of human history, bubbling up here and there, now and then, pointing out different ways of looking at things, reminding people to take it easy, and providing a necessary counterpoint to self-righteousness. From the Taoists to the Dadaists; from the Book of Ecclesiastes to Mark Twain’s Letters to the Earth, in the parables of Chuang-Tzu and the Baal Shem Tov, out of the cyclonic whirl of Rumi’s dervish poetry and the profound nonsense of Samuel Beckett’s confused characters, lurking beneath the unruly hair of Albert Einstein and between the bushy eyebrows of Groucho Marx, inside the howly voice of Allen Ginsberg and the crazed rantings of Lily Tomlin’s bag lady: Whatever tone it speaks in and whatever disguise it wears, crazy wisdom arises again and again to expose us to ourselves and to remind us of the strange impossible nature of our enterprise here on earth life.
“Crazy wisdom is the skeptical voice inside us that doubts our importance in the world and questions our belief in a higher purpose. It is the nagging suspicion that both our reasons and our reasoning are mistaken.
“Crazy wisdom laughs at our ridiculous ways and shows compassion for the suffering that results from them. It presents us with the bigger picture, and with ways to step lightly through it.”