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“A fascinating look at spiritual leaders, both past and present.”—Booklist
Crazy-wise adepts, cult leaders, and gurus challenge our common sense views of reality and norms of conduct. In their attempts to teach spiritual truths, they shock cognitive boundaries and jolt moral sensibilities with radical eccentricity, trickery, and excess.
Now for the first time, Holy Madness explores this universal dimension of spirituality in a readable and brilliant blend of history, philosophy, theology, and first-person accounts. Here are Fools for Christ, sitting naked on garbage heaps; eccentric Zen masters baffling their students with beatings and belly laughs; and enigmatic rascal gurus and spiritual clowns like Da-Ananda, Chögyam Trungpa, G. I. Gurdjieff, and Aleister Crowley.
How can you tell if the antics of a Holy Fool are legitimate teaching tools or simply the acts of a self-indulgent lunatic? This fascinating study tackles this question and many others, providing an unbiased exploration of the mechanics of spiritual life.
“It makes good, stiff reading for folks who hanker for travel of the mind and heart.”—Boston Globe
“A totally absorbing and fascinating piece of work by an author of considerable intellectual caliber . . . a superb study in the further reaches of human nature.”—Colin Wilson, author of The Outsider
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Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.is professor of psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology at the University of California at Irvine. He has published over a hundred articles and twelve books on science, philosophy, religion, and ecological issues, and his work has received over a dozen national and international awards.From Kirkus Reviews:
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. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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