Look into the morning dew
Finding a soul’s shape
Reflected in your footsteps
Casey Kochmer 2006
Taoists use poetry to teach because a poem is a kaleidoscopic way to teach multiple truths within a single small package of writing.
Taoist poetry typically falls under two styles.
The first is to capture the moment. Flash freezing something that tickles the essence of the Tao.
However, many Taoist poems step beyond the realm of personal art to be about interpersonal communication. Taoist’s write poetry as a way to teach. From a Taoist perspective, poetry is often the clearest vehicle for the transmission of knowledge of the Tao.
When words elude us, we write poetry to express truths that words don’t cover. As the Tao is beyond words, that means the Tao calls out to us to create poetry as we seek the words. Many of the lessons in a Taoist poem are not within the words but in the spaces between the words and the feelings that get stirred up from reading the poem.
Taoism as a teaching embraces many levels of truth at once. Taoism is always relative to one’s situation, containing many perceptions of a situation at once. As a result, only poetry, with its multiple levels of meaning, can reveal the path to the Tao. The Tao Te Ching perhaps best represents this style of poetry, which is at the heart of Taoism.
The Electric Muse
Our Muse lives in the electric moments of life. Which means at times she won’t hesitate to use an electric cattle prod to stir things up.
I remember one day, My muse was kicking me about in some of the darker corners of the soul. So I ended up writing some harsh words to myself. Understand this: Nothing is worth hiding if you want to be free, to have joy, to discover the wonders of life. Poetry allows you to open up and not hide from your darker experiences. This is why we write it out as poetry. So I wrote it all out in a moment of bad poetry. The words weren’t worth saving, but the act of writing it out released the pain inside of me. It is acceptable to toss away such bad poetry after it has served the purpose of freeing you.
But never hide!
To hide something from others is to hide your nature from yourself. So instead, know to experience wonder fully is to embrace all aspects of life. It isn’t always easy, but the hard edges help us appreciate our positive experiences. The beautiful thing about discovering a Personal Tao is you live! You always push to experience the unknown moment around the corner. When things get bad, A Personal Tao encourages one to work and change things to become great. My Taoism has been a wonderful support for helping me survive my depression. As an example: after writing out my dark feelings, I then turned it around to be with my positive muse and find balance again.
So even as one side of my muse was kicking me around, the other side of her turned it all around to become a dance in the sun. Opening myself to peace, I walked over to a park to encounter my muse as a fantastic, uplifting moment:
A hollywood style moment
Leaves spinning sideways to the wind
Light as a stain glass cathedral bursting from the clouds
Standing mid way between reaching trees,
letting loose, letting it go bare…
it all spun about in slow motion time.
Leaves landing on me.
Leaves flocking in swarms to dash about.
Leaves dropping quickly to the ground
to be swept back up and off
to be taken far far away.
All spun about as
A performance of a blustering fall day.
In time we all bare down:
to the dance upon outside whims.
to the time
of our own seasons.
It was incredible being in the middle of a storm of falling leaves, all glowing from the sun, each leaf becoming a radiant burst of windy motion. And that moment is eternal: a place in heaven embraced in my expression of life.
It’s about balance and discovering the grace of surfing thru both negative and positive aspects of life: It’s this difference between the two which permits the differentiation to know heaven upon stumbling through it.
Yes, a muse is a harsh mistress.
But she is a partner I dance with everyday gladly.
As it means to be truly living.
Some follow the steps of the wise
Seeing direction in the steps.
Finding an answer towards a destination.
A master merely wanders.
Some look to scripture.
In the beginning, There was a word…
A sound, a pattern, a statement
Leading to Dogma, Faith, Belief, Rules…
All fulfilling answers.
Each word implicating truth. (Little judgments each!)
A master is speechless.
I have Tao
But never answers to fulfill it with.
Releasing all answers
to free oneself
to be oneself.
Casey Kochmer May 2008
About Taoist Masters, Answers, and Truth.
People like to follow the path of a Master, yet in the end when you walk, it’s in your footsteps you must go. The answer that Taoism teaches is, in the end, you must follow your nature to discover the truth. Our poems are the dance to embrace this style of truth.
The Tao is discovered by being oneself fully and openly.
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