The Crazy Wisdom of a Heyoka Empath.

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“Crazy Wisdom practitioners have always inhabited the fringes of society, outside the normal framework of what is perceived to be ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable.’ Despite the disapproval of the Monastic Institution, they were especially loved and revered by ordinary Tibetans for their wild and unpredictable ways.” ~ Adamas, Buddha Brats—A Modern Tale of Enlightenment


Empaths have an inherent ability to sense, read, and make sense of the energy emanating from everyone and everything that exists in the universe. 

Many empaths identify as Heyoka, which is a Native American word that means “sacred clown” or “fool.” Heyokas use humor to open people up, so that people energetically transition to a place where they can absorb wisdom and healing energies.

In Tibetan Buddhism, a Heyoka would be referred to as someone who has the attributes of “Crazy Wisdom.” Crazy Wisdom, which is a term coined by Chögyam Trungpa, describes an often controversial path to self-discovery that is seen by many as abnormal or irrational.

Trungpa Rinpoche often expressed himself in somewhat bizarre ways by using playful or shocking tactics to jolt people out of what he felt was a restricted and linear mindset. He believed this was a compassionate method, explaining, “When we talk about compassion, we talk in terms of being kind. But compassion is not so much being kind; it is being creative to wake a person up.”

It is thought that whoever follows the path of Crazy Wisdom is able to rapidly and effortlessly move through karma.

Those who practice Crazy Wisdom do not take themselves so seriously, and they surrender entirely to their natural character traits. However, they usually exist at the far edge of society, as they are often seen as troublemakers, delinquents, or divergents.

Heyokas, with their Crazy Wisdom, walk into the unknown with a strong faith that whatever they may endure is part of their destiny, and that if anything goes wrong, they have the ability to alter their course. They recognize impermanence, and that every move they take, whether positive or negative, leads to a lesson they need to learn.

Those who embody Crazy Wisdom can sense if something is upsetting someone often before the person becomes aware of it themselves, and through using humor, they are able to pull the issue out of the person, whether the interaction is welcomed or not.

Heyokas use jokes or trickery to shift people’s mindsets so that they snap out of restrictive, fixed modes of thinking and are able to look with wonder and curiosity at new possibilities, and from different angles, so that they perceive situations in a fresh way.

Heyokas with Crazy Wisdom do not talk conventionally; instead, they talk in riddles and avoid directly answering questions in order to encourage people to think outside their neatly defined boxes, and instead, consider a variety of options.

Heyokas have the ability to mirror other people’s behavior, so that it reflects back to them and gives them a clear view of how they are appearing to others.

The Heyoka acts, often subconsciously, as an emotional trigger to encourage people to unearth deep, unhealed, and emotional wounds that they are unaware of. When in the company of a Heyoka, people’s insecurities, flaws, faults, or weaknesses rise to the surface, so that they can receive the opportunity to heal.

Heyokas can sense heavy, negative vibrations in the air, and they can easily transmute them. Therefore, they are known to cause disruptions, with good intention, so that they can transmute the energy of an individual (or a whole group of people) to alter the mood or atmosphere, effectively turning the energy to be more positive.

People may identify as a “Heyoka Empath” due to noticing that other people often feel flustered, upset, intimidated, or irritable when in their presence.

Heyokas have enhanced intuition, giving them the ability to read and affect other people’s emotional states, which often causes people to back away or avoid them altogether.

Some people feel uncomfortable knowing that their hidden negative traits or tendencies become unveiled while in a Heyoka’s company. Often they are subconsciously attempting to guard their true character, and so, they don’t understand why the Heyoka’s presence causes them to feel so uneasy.

At the other end of the scale, those who are sincere, authentic, and open to the Heyoka’s healing energy will feel at ease, peaceful, relaxed, and loved while in their company. This is because they are vibrating on the same frequency, resonating strongly.

Heyokas are unpredictable and unconventional, and they do not adhere to society’s expectations, abide by rules, uphold cultural conditioning, or follow the masses. They are often seen as loose cannons, as people never know what they might do next. They are not afraid to ask the taboo questions that others may avoid, and their comfort zones are usually the areas in which the majority of people feel most uncomfortable.

They often do things upside down, or backward, to strike up a conversation or to get people’s attention. For example, they may wear their clothes back to front, or they may laugh loudly when they really feel like crying. Heyokas regularly deliberately say or do the opposite of what everyone else is doing to encourage them to see that they are following the crowds without questioning their reasons for doing it.

They extinguish the lines between darkness and light by embracing all of life’s ups and downs, recognizing that we are all a mixture of many experiences and personalities, and that none of us live “perfect” existences.

Heyokas are effective at deflating people’s egos through cracking jokes or making light of situations whenever people think of themselves as above others or whenever they take themselves too seriously.

Heyokas are reminders that nobody is enlightened, as enlightenment is a journey, not a destination. They show us how we are all a teacher and student at the same time, and that none of us know everything—as soon as someone thinks they do, their mind becomes narrow, limited, or closed to learning.

Sacred clowns and tricksters exist in almost all spiritual practices and cultures. They may all be known by different terms, but essentially it is someone who has a great deal of universal knowledge and wisdom, and has the ability to jovially awaken others. They walk a chaotic path, but one that holds great meaning and wisdom.

Many people fear the jovial but ruthless Heyoka, so they may either mask their true feelings or intentions, or avoid getting too close to them altogether. However, Heyokas have an inherent, natural skill that allows them to evoke the greatest revelations and provide people with the opportunity to discover deep, personal, and ancient knowledge through the use of chaos and humor.

Heyokas are spiritual teachers whose role on earth is to ruffle feathers and upset the status quo in order to advance evolution for a higher purpose that isn’t always recognisable or instantly understood, as at the time, it can feel extremely disruptive.

All that is required is for people to be courageous and vulnerable when Heyokas appear in their lives so that they open themselves up to their alternative healing methods. They will then receive the opportunity to begin demolishing patterns of behaviors that no longer serve them, to abolish rigid mental structures, to question strict and silent social rules and regulations, and to fearlessly embrace and see the beauty in the unfamiliar and unexpected, while learning to accept all aspects of their unique, paradoxical personality.




Author: Alex Myles

Image: Flickr/Lauren Treece

Editor: Travis May


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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.

Alex Cooper Jun 23, 2018 7:04am

Sorry Alex, but I have to say that regardless of your yoga and meditation license, you aren’t qualified to write an article about the ‘mystic’ Heyoka. See my reply to Sharon Whitethunder Baldock. If you want to describe something as a sacred fool, then call it just that. I mean no malice in my words, but I just have to say that this article is the verbal equivalent of the Coachella Concert Indian Headdress.

Alex Cooper Jun 23, 2018 6:56am

I’m probably going to be the only person to agree with you, but I have to say taking an American Indian sacred spirit and using it as a way to describe yourself so that you may feel more ethnically rooted is totally misappropriation. I am Sioux and have been taught that the Heyokas are sacred and when they appear at dances, nobody knows their identity and if you are blessed by one, it is an honor. The Heyoka tradition is passed down secretly through a family, so that it may remain special. I know people will respond as doubters, but you only retaliate because someone is telling you something you don’t want to hear. You don’t want to be told you can’t. “People of color appropriate white people things all the time! Why can’t we do the same?” “We use the word respectfully, so you can’t tell me how I can or can’t describe myself.” Anyone with logic and intelligence knows these arguments don’t hold any water against the proven hard fact that minority cultures are misappropriated. The group misappropriating ignorantly finds a portion of the opposing group’s culture more exciting or exotically intriguing, and wishes to have a part of it for themselves without truly understanding the significance of the item, tradition, or sacred ideal of that culture. This article, while well-written, has the fundamental flaw that it lackadaisically throws the word Heyoka around to uninformed people who then go on to use the term thinking that they are woke. Heyoka empaths are not new age. Natives aren’t exotic. We aren’t like the mysterious orient and fu manchu. And we aren’t all brown muscular warriors in loincloths. Demystify us. We are just like you. We just prefer to keep our traditions around and know their significance.

Sharon Whitethunder Baldock Jun 13, 2018 2:11pm

Jennifer Lux Meow...not sure what you mean by "have you"... I have First Nations friends and a very close Lakota, Annishnaabe, Cree friends...I have had some teachings from elders, participated in Sacred Sweat and received teachings from the Spirit Guide there...invited and attended Sundance ...I have been to one of the First...First Nations Two Spirited Retreats in my Province....I follow some First Nations traditions is not a New age description...and when you use something of First Nations ways without them or use them to identify its called "Appropriation"...and Heyoka is not "New Age"...I have a two small businesses the other is Sacred Source Medicine ....I am an Empowerment Coach for Highly Sensitive People HSP or "Empaths" and I teach Reiki. The biggest comparison is if you are First Nations then it comes from your teachings passed down from many elders and story tellers....empath is not necassairily new...but it is "New Age" not from any tribe. We have taken enough from our First Nations or North American Indian and I am a peaceful activist when it comes to this culture. To go into further comparison would mean giving teachings that I do not have permission to because it is not mine to teach. What I would encourage you to do is take the time to connect with an elder or First Nations person and learn their traditions...not just one of their ways that seems really cool because thats what they use or call it...;-) its like taking something that doesn't belong to you, us, we.....;-)

Edith Mastroianni Apr 12, 2018 6:59pm

So far THREE interruptive pop ups blocking this article...all of them YOURS

Mike Bull Mar 20, 2018 9:08pm

I'm sure the article was well-written with good intention. But Heyoka is not a general "Native American" word - it's a D/Lakota (aka "Sioux") word meaning to dream of thunder. You can there after refer to the clown or teaser.

Susan Entz Jan 29, 2018 5:09am

This struck a chord with me. I use laughing to direct most everything. Everything resonates with me. I’ve read all the comments. I’m happy for all of you that feel the sense of understanding in placing who you are. The others talking of cultural comments. I’m saddened. The spiritual wisdom that’s carried forward in engergy does not know or care what decent you are. I feel it’s incredibly foolish talk. Living with elders for years your wrong in requesting this being removed. To everyone of kind intentions thank you.

Michelle Frost Jan 11, 2018 3:46pm

:) Thank you! I've known I was a heyokah for a while, but this... totally verifies it. LOVELY article. Crazy Wisdom blessings to you. :D

Evelyn Ashford Dec 31, 2017 4:02pm

This article is an example of new age cultural appropriation. Alex myles are you dakota/nakota/lakota? A dakota would not speak to outsiders in this way about this particular cultural role. Just because a western person has certain personality traits does not make them heyoka. If you wish to write about native american culture you need to have a relationship with a community and ask humbly of the elders in that community. Please delete this article, expplain to non-natives readers the appropriate way to conduct research on native/first nation matters, and apologize to the native communities you have offended

Rena Wells Oct 17, 2017 8:42pm

I'm a Heyoka and defintley don't use humour at all. I am super direct and to the point because of how clear I see and know. For me, I don't beat around the bush and give it, and for that people either love me or run from me. Other than that it's dead on. I have struggled most of my life before fully coming into this power, We are mostly ostracized from society because of how clearly we know energy, to the point of seeing the metaphsyical realms.

Grey Bull Demi Oct 16, 2017 12:01pm

I guess I am awake and aware...

Grey Bull Demi Oct 16, 2017 11:59am

I am Full Blood Lakota Sioux from the northern plains. And I was being called a heyoka when I was a child (Backwards Clown) by family and oyates (Relatives).... 25 yrs later I literally just now found out what the meaning of heyoka is but I knew what heyoka was a backwards Clown u just didn't know the full meaning if it tho.. Sounds like me.. l love it.. Here planting seeds. Wake up oyates

Kerry H Ray Oct 4, 2017 3:37pm

Sounds so much like me minus the acting too much like a clown but more mirroring others for their and my advancement

Sharon Whitethunder Baldock Aug 25, 2017 6:23pm

We have to be careful not to use First Nations traditions spirituality as our own descriptions to identify as an empath... First Nations spirituality is not new age it is sacred... have you had teachings from an elder of First Nations or "North American Indian" or spoke to an elder regarding a Heyoka?

Bianca Maria Aug 25, 2017 2:16pm

Amazing,amazing, I resonate with this so much. Thanks x

Jacqueline J. Jarvis Aug 20, 2017 6:35am

Jason Riley I ve had people do the opposite

Jacqueline J. Jarvis Aug 20, 2017 6:32am

Very in depth and precise look at this type of person. I wonder are you also a 'Reflector' type in the human design beause this is us to an exact description..every last detail-I never knew about this Heyoka..I just knew I was a Reflector and everything fits like a glove--

Zechary Gray Aug 9, 2017 3:24am

This is a wonderful and educational article. I was sent this from a friend, well more like a brother. I can't speak for many people but I will speak from what I know and the words you wrote will have a huge impact on them, so thank you. Yeah, I am not the most grammer-esq person on the planet but I know what you have written has impacted my brother in a positive way that he shared it with me. Continue walking and teaching.

Jason Riley Jul 15, 2017 2:19pm

Also, when a heyoka acts or says something in a way that can be taken as offensive most people either laugh or feel a sense of love from it, they rarely get angry towards the heyoka or offended.

Jason Riley Jul 15, 2017 2:15pm

If you are a true heyoka, you would have no limits to what you are willing to do or say, provided you do not cause physical harm. Heyoka's can come across as rude and mean just to cause a realisation in another person.

Nigel Heritage Jul 10, 2017 7:46am

Lol, like it, very interesting. Makes me see things are on course. Bless.

Don Deaner May 23, 2017 5:26pm

What a great article. I have known that I am a INFJ personality type and an Old Soul. Part of being an INFJ is being an empath and recently discovered Heyoka's. So many of my adult life interaction experiences fits with the Heyoka empath. It just all makes sense. Intuitively, I know I'm a Heyoka. : ) I'll be sure to check out your book and maybe visit my website,

Tripti Kay Apr 7, 2017 10:29am

This was the 43rd unread tab in my browser for a long time...And im wondering y the hell did I not read it until now...Except for the jovial part ...Everything relates..I dont joke around or make light of the situation (Maybe Cuz my mother doesnt like it :p n she gets super mad). But rest is the answer to all the confusion ive felt about my vibes to other Ppl...This makes total sense! Wow! Thanks

Gricelda Osuna Burkhart Apr 3, 2017 4:58am

Love it, Thank you�

Jen Johnson Apr 3, 2017 1:18am

OMG this is amazimg , i am speechless i have never read anything like this before even though this is how i live my life. There have been so many times that i have said things or asked questions that have even surprised me. i mean i pride myself in saying things that are considered the elephant in the room but often i do not even consciously see the elephant myself. Thank you Alex! maybe this will help me finally get rid of the self doubt that keeps me from reaching my fullest potential!! Thanks Again Alex i needed this!

Alex Myles Mar 31, 2017 8:43pm

Thank you so much Maddi