Down through the ages, saints, holy fools, jesters, poets, and artists have challenged conventional wisdom and tried to get us to see what we often reject — mystery, paradox, the unity of all things, balance, and transformation. Or as Wes "Scoop" Nisker puts it in this revised edition of his 1990 classic: "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."

The author, who is a Buddhist meditation teacher, journalist, and author, takes us on a wild and lively ride through Eastern and Western philosophy and spirituality. Along the way, there are plenty of humorous sidebar quotations such as the following:

  • All "isms" should be "wasms" — Abbie Hoffman

  • We are caught in a traffic jam of discursive thought. — Chogyam Trungpa

  • If man had created man he would be ashamed of his performance. — Mark Twain

  • Don’t kill the fly! / Look — it’s begging you, / Wringing its hands and feet! —Issa
  • If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise. — William Blake

The spiritual practice of play informs all crazy wisdom from the Native American traditions of the sacred clowns to St. Francis and members of his order who saw themselves as jesters of the Lord, to the Hasidic sage known as the Baal Shem Tov, to the Zen masters and their koans, to the Beat poets and contemporary comedians. Now more than ever, we need this brand of wisdom that opens us to wonder and hospitality.