If poetry can be thought of as an art that uses the power of imagery to draw a response from the human psyche, then I think that teaching Baguazhang is a kind of poetry. I say this having just returned from the Gompa where Shigong Painter gave me intensive personal instruction on Water Palm, one of the 8 Palms of Jiulong.
Many who have visited the Gompa for training, including me, have written about the high quality of instruction, generosity and hospitality they have been shown. Like me, everyone I know who has visited came away with a sack of valuable information that pushes them into greater progress in their skills. So it was for me on this latest trip.
As some of you know, the more you go (to the Gompa), the deeper you go (into the art), and this brings me back to poetry. During the sessions, I became immersed in using the imagery of water, how it flows unresistingly, how it fills empty spaces, how inexorable it is. This can be powerful stuff and, like a well written poem, it certainly evoked a response in me, showing me ways of moving and responding, physically and emotionally, to pressure.
While I was there and on the plane back to Toronto, I was full with all that I had learned but now, as I sift through the lessons, it comes to me that the poem of water that had so captivated me while at the Gompa was written by a poet. He wrote a poem aimed at me, and the lessons, like water, flowed around my resistance and filled my empty spaces. It takes a clear vision, skill and sometimes even ruthlessness on the part of a poet who wants to maximize the effect of his poem. It also takes a deep commitment to his art. I’m happy and thankful to stand down hill from the poet. After all, that’s the direction water flows.
If you go to the Gompa, a poem will be written just for you, too.