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Spiritual Poems - Why Read Them?

What makes spiritual poems different from other spiritual writings? Poetry has a way of pointing more directly at reality, rather than just defining it. It uses words as tools for the transmission of experience. Spiritual poetry then, is more about enlightenment than belief. Here is a classic example from the Tao Te Ching: Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source. Returning to the source is serenity. If you don't realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow. When you realize where you came from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready.

The Christian Bible is full of spiritual poems. Consider this short passage from the poetry found in Corinthians: When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. Spiritual poems are not necessarily religious poems. They can simply point at the universal values in life, and at our relationship to these. This can be seen in the last stanza of the poem "Lake Superior." There was the sun on my face, and this was superior to any description, idea, belief or faith. Spiritual poetry can try to point out some particular truth. It can also be more enigmatic, causing you to investigate an idea more closely to find your own truth. It can be an expression of love, or encourage you to relax and be at peace. Simple enjoyment, though, is enough reason to read spiritual poems.


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