Echoes of Emptiness (虚之響)-Cultivate Strength

Selected Poetry

by© Jacob Newell (Daoshi Gu Shen Yu)

Since ancient times, Daoists have used poetry and other art forms to express mystical experience, convey teaching, and transmit energy. A Daoist poem arises naturally out of the stillness of an empty mind, like fresh grasses in the springtime.  Embracing both wuji and taiji, Daoist poetry can clear the mind and reveal the Dao.

I started experiencing poetic inspirations during my priest training in the American Dragon Gate Lineage from 2007-2010.  They were born out of my qi-cultivation practice and were particularly influenced by the combined practice of studying the Daozang (Daoist Canon) and practicing Zuowang meditation (Sitting & Forgetting).

Discovering the poetic process has exposed me to the creative process that many artists experience – without any deliberate intention to create something, we spontaneously find ourselves channeling inspiration from mysterious places.  I consider this to be an example of the spontaneous arising (ziran) which appears out of wuwei practice.



Cultivate strength
End up weak

Cultivate weakness
End up strong

When strength appears
Only return to weakness

Not using strength
This is called true strength


Blade of grass
Soft, weak
Fresh, rising
Watching the sunrise
Green tiger


Complete perfection
Our natural endowment

Moment, by moment
Act very carefully


Chamber empty
Fire burning hot
Purple smoke rising
Sweet dew seeping
Wild birds riding on the wind


Compressing essence
Elixir rises on its own
Penetrating the passes
Golden sprout in full bloom


Relaxing everything into a stable base
A powerful geyser wells up from deep inside
Lifting me beyond my senses
Without excitement, I ride the rising mists

Gu Shen Yu

Jacob Newell (Daoshi Gu Shen Yu) is an ordained Daoist priest and founder of Old Oak School of Dao.  He practices and teaches Taijiquan and Daoist cultivation in Sonoma County, California.  His book of poetry, These Daoist Bones, is available from his website,

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About Gu Shen Yu

Jacob Newell (Gu Shen Yu Daoshi) teaches Ruyu-style Taijiquan in Sonoma County, California through Old Oak Taiji School. His instruction emphasizes Laozi's approach to meditation and qi-cultivation: wuwei-ziran. Jacob has been practicing Taijiquan and related arts since the early 1990's and is an ordained Daoist priest. His book of poetry, These Daoist Bones, is available from his website,
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