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The Tao of Pooh

by Benjamin Hoff, Ernest H. Shepard (Illustrator)

The Tao of Pooh provides an entertaining and enlightening look at Taoism using Winnie-the-Pooh and friends as examples.
Published by Viking Press Reprint edition (July 1983),  ISBN 0140067477 [Book,Kindle]
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In the The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff provides an excellent introduction to Taoism using the characters of A. A. Milne and illustrations by Earnest H. Shepard.

The book is a delightful mix of insightful commentary on Taoism and fun writing style. The following passage describing a famous painting called The Vinegar Tasters serves as an introduction to Taoism:

We see three men standing around a vat of vinegar. Each has dipped his finger into the vinegar and has tasted it. The expression on each man's face shows his individual reaction. Since the painting is allegorical, we are to understand that these are no ordinary vinegar tasters, but are instead representatives of of the "Three Teachings" of China, and that the vinegar they are sampling represents the Essence of Life. The three masters are K'ung Fu-tse (Confucius), Buddha, and Lao-tse, author of the oldest book on Taoism. The first has a sour look on his face, the second wears a bitter expression, but the third man is smiling.


To Lao-tse (LAOdsuh), the harmony that naturally existed between heaven and earth from the very beginning could be found by anyone at any time, but not by following the rules of Confucianists. As he stated in his Tao Te Ching (DAO DEH JEENG), the "Tao Virtue Book", earth was in essence a reflection of heaven, run by the same laws—not by the laws of man.

.... What he saw operating behind everything in heaven and earth he called Tao (DAO), 'the Way." A basic principal of Lao-tse's teaching was that this Way of the Universe could not be adequately described in words, and that it would be insulting both to its unlimited power and to the intelligent mind to attempt to do so. Still, its nature could be understood, and those who cared most about it, and the life from which it was inseparable, understood it best. [pages 2 - 5].

In Pooh's words:

To know the Way,
We go the Way;
We do the Way
The way we do
The things we do.
It's all there in front of you,
But if you try too hard to see it,
You'll only become Confused.

I am me,
And you are you,
As you can see;
But when you do,
The things you can do,
You will find the Way,
And the Way will follow you.

Highly recommended.

Book,Kindle reviewed by Greg Dixon
Thursday, October 5, 2000

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Subject keywords: taoism philosophy religion