The Taoist Writer: Creating Soul

Why Write?


You ask me why I make my home in the mountain forest,

and I smile, and am silent,

and even my soul remains quiet:

it lives in the other world

which no one owns.

The peach trees blossom.

The water flows.

–Li Po

(The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry edited by Stephen Mitchell, p.31)

Li Po (701-764) was a Chinese poet and a Taoist. His words flow like water and fill the silence with song. His poem was born in the mountain forest, under a green cloak adorned with peach blossoms. His silent smile hints of another world where souls live free. It’s fun to play with a poet’s words . . . sometimes play enhances the poem’s meaning, sometimes play creates something new.

A Duty to Create

As a writer you have a duty to create. Hey Terry! That duty thing’s not very flowing, not very Taoist. Certain Taoists feel a moral imperative to create the immortal spirit-body through Taoist meditation. Jung describes this symbolic soul-making as creating the “diamond body, the indestructible breath-body which develops in the Golden Flower . . .” (The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life  translated and explained by Richard Wilhelm with a commentary by C.G. Jung, pp. 130-131).

Creating Sun

In certain contexts Jung speaks of the anima as soul. In a Taoist meditation visualization three feminine deities (anima figures) are in the Palace of the Golden Flower. ”Seated on a bench of purple jade, they are encircled with auras of luminous solar breath which illuminates the whole room. Each of them exhales a breath in the deity’s distinctive color [purple, yellow and white] and then the three breaths are transformed into a bright sun which enlightens the whole Palace” [of the Golden flower] . . . (Taoist Meditation: Te Mao-Shan Tradition of Great Purity by Isabelle Robinet, p.132). Breath creating sun, creating soul. What beautiful imagery!

Bearing Bright Gifts

I am not trying to teach Taoist meditation nor do I recommend trying it. I recommend mining Taoist literature for the jewels of prolific symbolism and poetic imagery. Writers create soul through transformative writing. Like Li Po whose soul “lives in the other world,” cross the threshold to the other world and return on rays of scintillating sunlight bearing bright gifts to light the world.

Photo Credit: Photo by gr33n3gg at Flickr Creative Commons.


Why Write?
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