Skip to Main Content

The Dharma of Poetry

How Poems Can Deepen Your Spiritual Practice and Open You to Joy

Discover how to engage with poetry to support your spiritual practice, leading to more mindfulness, equanimity, and joy.

In The Dharma of Poetry, John Brehm shows how poems can open up new ways of thinking, feeling, and being in the world. Brehm demonstrates the practice of mindfully entering a poem, with an alertness, curiosity, and open-hearted responsiveness very much like the attention we cultivate in meditation. 

Complete with poetry-related meditations and writing prompts, this collection of lively, elegantly written essays can be read as a standalone book, or as a companion to the author’s acclaimed anthology, The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy.

“The Dharma of Poetry is a warm invitation to explore the beauty of our own lives, retrieving a sense of wonder and mystery as we navigate both the immediate and the timeless.  John Brehm has done a masterful job in reminding us of the power of our own poetic sensibilities.”

– Joseph Goldstein, author of The Experience of Insight, A Heart Full of Peace, and Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening

“John Brehm is a wonderful teacher. In these lucid essays about poems and poets, and in the carefully crafted exercises that follow, he takes us on a contemplative stroll through the centuries and deeply into our own minds. Poetry and spiritual practice have always had a lot to do with one another; in The Dharma of Poetry we see exactly why—and how.”

– Norman Fischer, poet and Zen Buddhist priest, author of Questions/Places/Voices/Seasons

“A wonderfully encouraging book. There is a beautiful alchemy in the way Brehm turns poems into practice. He shows us the ways poems are by their nature moments of liberating attentiveness. And in his clear and welcoming voice, Brehm reveals how that liberation can infuse our everyday lives. How it can transform not just us, but also this world in ecological crisis.”

– David Hinton, author of China Root: Taoism, Ch'an, and Original Zen and Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape

“For a long time I’ve appreciated how poems embody the Dharma through telling the story of a simple lived experience, and feeling the teachings being offered with all one's senses rather than merely through some intellectual understanding. As I read The Dharma of Poetry,  each chapter taught me how to notice more subtleties and nuances in each poem’s Dharma teaching. I learned so much about harvesting more of the depth and breadth of poems from John Brehm’s sensitive understanding of poetry. I now have new ways to read and receive the refinements of Dharma wisdom in a poem, and am so grateful.”

– Kamala Masters, co-founder of the Vipassana Metta Foundation and guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Society

“A clear-eyed, warm, and generous guide, John Brehm reveals how we might encounter poetry as a source of sustaining wisdom. The essays collected here—and every single one is a gem—serve as a companion to his wildly popular The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy. But anyone interested in poetry or spiritual practice will find through this book a gateway to richness: Here are ten elegant teachings on how to live.”

– Heather Sellers, author of You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know

More books from this author: John Brehm