by Karal Ayn Barnett
All through history there have been so-called religious
fanatics, people who have marched to the beat of a very different
drummer, who acted as if they had lost all sense of reason when
teaching their version of the gospel. The cartoon character of the
shabby preacher standing on the street corner year after year,
holding an "End of the World" sign comes to mind.
these people were not necessarily mentally ill. At least some of
these folks were Crazy Adepts -- spiritual teachers who act in an
incredibly bizarre fashion in order to teach us the Crazy Wisdom of
Crazy Adepts often seem irreligious or
unspiritual, but they do so in order to shock us awake -- a kind of
spiritual shock therapy, according to Georg Feuerstein, an expert in
esoteric wisdom. In YOGA: THE TECHNOLOGY OF ECSTASY, Feuerstein
explains that Crazy Adepts are "enlightened iconoclasts."
Their "mad" behavior serves to reflect the false worldview that
people are separate from each other. Crazy Wisdom says in truth, we
are all connected.
The separations in the physical world
such as human bodies, houses, communities are merely illusions.
Crazy Wisdom seeks to unearth and heal all the false beliefs that
people have about themselves, and the world.
antics are often at the core of spirituality though they usually
offend secular and traditional religious organizations. Not so in
Tibet and India where the Divine Madman is a venerated teacher. In
Tibet, the "saintly madman" (lama myonpa) has been recognized as a
legitimate spiritual teacher all through history. In India, the holy
"avadhuta" has also cast off all concerns to teach in a highly
unconventional manner. But crazy teachers are not just found in the
East. There have been Crazy Adepts in other lands.
in the sixth century seemed to be big on Crazy Adepts. For instance,
there was St. Simeon who liked to pretend insanity for effect. Once
he found a dead dog on a dung heap. He tied the animal to his belt
and dragged the corpse through town. People were so full of outrage
they couldn't see St. Simeon's message. He was trying to show the
useless "dead weight" of excess emotional baggage that people drag
through their lives.
The town's uproar didn't seem to
phase the Crazy Adept, though. The very next day, St. Simeon entered
a church and just as the liturgy began, he threw nuts at the
St Simeon confessed on his deathbed that
his life's mission was to denounce hypocrisy and hubris.
Another example of sixth-century spiritual silliness was Mark the
Mad, a desert monk who was thought insane when he came into town to
atone for his sins. Only Abba Daniel saw the method in the monk's
madness, and declared the monk the only reasonable man in the city.
Little-known figures like St. Isaac Zatvornik and St. Basil were the
designated holy fools of history who spoke of the wisdom of God.
There was even a female Crazy Adept -- St. Isadora. But the messages
of these crazy teachers unfortunately seemed insane to most the
Crazy Adepts live to turn convention on its ear
by challenging and confronting established dictates. They bring a
sense of chaos to shake up the status quo.
says that Crazy Adepts, "…are a perpetual reminder that our whole
human civilization is an attempt to deny the inevitability of death,
which makes nonsense out of even the noblest efforts to create a
symbolic order out of the infinite plastic that is life." Feuerstein
adds that the Crazy Adepts' bizarre teachings ultimately smash
through the false beliefs of the egocentric universe and its feeling
So the next time you see a very strange
person acting in a very strange way, trying to give you a message
from God, don't immediately assume insanity.
or she is a Crazy Adept trying to do you a favor by helping you pull
the little-ego back in line with your Higher Self, even if they have
to get in your face to do it.
About The Author
Karal Ayn Barnett, A woman on the
edge…of the Mojave Desert. :) Karal is a free lance journalist and
does tape transcriptions. http://www.jinglesweb.com/karal