HOLY MADNESS by Georg Feuerstein


The Shock Tactics and Radical Teachings of Crazy-Wise Adepts, Holy Fools, and Rascal Gurus
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 Here, Feuerstein (The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga, 1990- -not reviewed) explores the arcane and dramatic world of ``crazy wisdom''--the purposefully outrageous, convention-destroying behavior of spiritual adepts in every great tradition--peppering his fascinating historical survey of gurus and tricksters with insights from modern psychology and his own experience in an unnamed contemporary cult. ``In their realization or experience, adepts may be above good and evil,'' Feuerstein writes. ``In their actions, however, they are not.'' Tracing the shadowy tradition of crazy wisdom from the self-abnegating ``Holy Fools'' of early Christianity and Sufism (the ``Way of Blame'') to the greatly accomplished teaching adepts of India and Tibet (including the legendary Milarepa), Feuerstein paints a richly suggestive picture of ``crazy wise'' spiritual experience--as solitary and superb as a saint pretending to be mad. His portraits of modern adepts, however, reveal how difficult it is to balance mysticism with common morality. G.I. Gurdjieff, Chogyam Trungpa, Bhagwan Rajneesh, Da Love Ananda (a.k.a. Da Free John): Feuerstein alleges that each (to greater or lesser degree) indulged in outrageous behavior to flex his spiritual muscle in the face of dourly submissive disciples. Particularly surprising are accounts of the alcohol-drenched debauches of Trungpa and Da Love Ananda (Rajneesh's weaknesses are too well known to surprise). Feuerstein speculates that neurosis survives enlightenment, and he labels these singular men ``relics from an archaic spirituality''--yet he apparently longs to infuse the personal-growth field with their wisdom. A provocative and personally charged attempt to reconcile an ancient spiritual form to the modern age.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-55778-250-4
Page count: 416pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991