The goal of early poetry isn't 'woo' - it's a mnemonic device.
See, this stuff was written down, sure, but that wasn't the primary means of transmission in these early cultures; most people were not literate. Instead, you wrote poetry, something beautiful and memorable that stuck in the brain, something you could pass on easily and dredge out of your memory quickly.
Plus - bhuddism has an emphasis on 'epiphany'; eastern philosophy focuses on offering most
, but not all
of a truth. Eastern teaching techniques rely on the student closing the last bit of that gap themselves, so that they 'own' the idea. Ideas are more powerful, after all, when your brain puts them together.. as opposed to having them fed to you.
Thus, koans. Which are lovely - they're logical conundrums that hope to lead you to specific conclusions based on a hypothetical. They make no sense until you think them through, and then they suddenly do.. and you never forget 'em.
Anyway, the point is that you must be careful about simply classifying early philosophical thought as 'woo' simply because of its language. Most of it was in fact religious, but the poetry itself doesn't make it worthless. Plus... remember that some of these concepts can be esoteric, and precision in language difficult.
For instance, take Taoist philosophical thought:
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.
Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.
What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
you position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.
What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?
See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.
(this is stz. 8 and stz 13 of the Tao Te Ching
There's nothing 'woo' about Lao Tse, but he wrote in poetry to try to capture emotion as well as philosophy. It was the high form of his time, ca. 2000 BCE, written with the purpose of being read and considered 'high literature' - something worth reading and remembering.
Think about Sun Tzu - the art of war is poetry, but offers practical and solid advice if you're waging a land war in asia with ground troops.
Anyway - poetry had a point.