The Tao of Pooh

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Post The Tao of Pooh

Post by Akindra on Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:00 pm


[b]Hi all - I read this book about 10 years ago and finally just bought a copy to keep. So I thought I'd post some here for you to read. It's a very easy to read and cutely written story but with great taoist wisdom - written for western society to understand. Taoism (or Daoism) is classed as a religion, but alot of people use it more as a philosophy system. (The principle sacred text of Daoism being the Tao Te Ching)



The Tao of Pooh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

part - The Tao of Pooh 180px-Taopooh part - The Tao of Pooh Magnify-clip
Cover of The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh is a book written by Benjamin Hoff (Dutton Books: 1982, ISBN 0-525-24458-1). The book is an introduction to Taoism, using the fictional character of Winnie the Pooh. Hoff also wrote The Te of Piglet, a companion book.
Hoff uses Winnie the Pooh and the other characters from A. A. Milne's stories to explain the basic principles of philosophical Taoism. The book also includes translated excerpts from various Taoist texts, from authors such as Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi.
The book was on the New York Times bestseller list, and is oftenused in college religion courses. It is criticized by some Taoist scholars for imposing impertinent religious and philosophical Western categories on the history of Chinese thought and Taoism; thus creating a vision that has nothing to do with Taoism as a way of life.Although people have vastly differing views on what Taoism actually is, the book has been praisedfor successfully introducing Taoist concepts to much of the western world.

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Post Foreward from "The Tao of Pooh"

Post by Akindra on Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:26 pm

Foreward from "The Tao of Pooh"

What's this you're writing? asked Pooh, climbing onto the writing table.
The Tao of Pooh, I replied.
The how of Pooh? asked Pooh, smudging one of the words I had just written.
The Tao of Pooh, I replied, poking his paw away with my pencil.
It seems more like the ow! of Pooh, said Pooh, rubbing his paw.
Well, it's not, I replied huffily.
What's it about? asked Pooh, leaning forward and smearing another word.
It's about how to stay happy and calm under all circumstances! I yelled.
Have you read it? asked Pooh.

That was after some of us were disucssing the Great Masters of Wisdom, and someone was saying how all of them came from the East, and I was saying that some of them didn't, but he was going on and on, just like this sentence, not paying any attention, when I decided to read a quotation of wisdom from the West, to prove that there was more to the world than one half, and I read:

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast? said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.

"What's that?" the Unbeliever asked.
"Wisdom from a Western Taoist" I said
"It sounds like something from Winnie the Pooh" he said
"It is" I said
"That's not about Taoism" he said
"Oh, yes it is" I said
"No it's not" he said
"What do you think it's about" I said
"It's about the dumpy little bear that wanders around asking silly questions, making up songs, and going through all kinds of adventrures, without ever accumulating any amount of intellectual knowledge, or losing his simpleminded sort of happiness. That's what it's about" he said
"Same thing" I said

That was when I began to get the idea to write a book that explained the principles of Taoism through Winnie the Pooh and explained Winnie the Pooh throught the principles of Taoism.

When informed of my intentions, the scholars exclaimed, "Preposterous!" and things like that. Others said it was the stupidest thing they'd ever heard, and that I must be dreaming. Some said is was a nice idea, but too difficult. "Just where would you ever begin?" they asked. Well, an old Taoist saing puts it this way: "A thousand mile journey starts with one step"

So I think that we will start at the beginning....


TBC

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Post Re: The Tao of Pooh

Post by Sarveswara on Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:43 pm

Ohhhhh ... clap
how exciting I can hardly wait for the next excerpt bounce ... this is a wonderful idea Mixsy thanks so much for reading to us. hug
Kiss

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Post Re: The Tao of Pooh

Post by Light Mystic on Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:28 pm

Wow, that's awesome! Thank you for posting that. I can't wait to read more.

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Post Re: The Tao of Pooh

Post by Jon28 on Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:00 pm

Sounds wonderful, Mixsy! clap
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Post The How of Pooh

Post by Akindra on Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:51 am

The How of Pooh


"You see, Pooh" I said, "a lot of people don't
seem to know waht Taoism is..."
"Yes" said Pooh, blinking his eyes.
"So that's what this chapter is for - to
explain things a bit"
"Oh, I see" said Pooh
"And the easiest way to do that would be for
us to go to China for a moment"
"What?" said Pooh, his eyes wide open in
amazement. "Right now?"
"Of course. All we need to do is lean back,
relax, and there we are"
"Oh, I see" said Pooh.

Lets imagine that we have walked down a
narrow street in a large Chinese city and have
found a small shop that sells scrolls painted in
the classic manner. We go inside and ask to
be shown something allegorical - something
humorous, perhaps, but with some sort of
Timeless Meaning. The shopkeeper smiles. "I
have just the thing", he tells us. "A copy of
The Vinegar Tasters!" He leads us to a large
table and unrolls the scroll, placing it down
for us to examine. "Excuse me - I must
attend to something for a moment", he says,
and goes into the back of the shop, leaving us
alone with the painting.

Although we can see that this is a fairly
recent version, we know that the original was
painted long ago; just when is uncertain. But
by now, the theme of the painting is well
known.

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
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 existing book of Taoism.
The first has a sour look on his face, the
second wears a bitter expression, but the
third man is smiling.

To K'ung Fu-tse (kung FOOdsuh), life seemed
rather sour. He believed that the present was
out of step with the past, and that the
government of man on earth was out of
harmony with the Way of Heaven, the
governemnt of the universe. Therefore, he
emphasized reverence for the Ancestors, as
well as for the ancient rituals and ceremonies
in which the emporor, as the Son of Heaven,
acted as intermediary between limitless
heaven and limited earth. Under Confucianism,
the use of precisely measured court music,
prescribed steps, actions and phrases all
added up to an extremely comples system of
rituals, each used for a particular purpose at
a particular time. A saying was recorded
about K'ung Fu-tse: "If the mat was not
straight, the Master would not sit". This ought
to give an indication of the extent to which
things were carried out under Confusianism.

To Buddha, the second figure in the painting,
life on earth was bitter, filled with
attachments and desires that led to
suffering. The world was seen as a setter of
traps, a generator of illusions, a revolving
wheel of pain for all creatrues. In order to
find peace, the Buddhist considered it
necessary to transcend "the world of dust"
and reach Nirvana, literally a state of "no
wind". Although the essentially optimistic
attitude of the Chinese altered Buddhism
considerably after it was brought in from it's
native India, the devout Buddhist often saw
the way to Nirvana interrupted all the same
by the bitter wind of everyda existence.

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 Virtue Book", earth was in essence a
reflection of heaven, run by the same laws -
not by the laws of men. These laws affected
not only the spinning of distant planets, but
the activities of the birds in the forest and
the fish in the sea. According to Lao-tse, the
more man interfered with the natural balance
produced and governed by the universal laws,
the further away the harmony retreated into
the distance. The more forcing, the more
trouble. Whether heavy or light, wet or dry,
fast or slow, everything had its own nature
already within it, which could not be violated
without causing difficulties. When abstract
and arbitrary rules were imposed from the
outside, struggle was inevitable. Only then did
life become sour.

To Lao-tse, the world was not a setter of
traps, but a teacher of valuable lessons. Its
lessons needed to be learned, just as its laws
needed to be followed; then all would go well.
Rather than turn away from "the world of
dust', Lao-tse advised others to "join the dust
of the world". What he saw operating behind
everything in heaven and earth he called Tao
(DAO), "the Way". A basic principle 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
human mind to attempt to do so. Still, its
nature could be understood, and those who
cared the most about it, and the life from
which it was inseperable, understood it best.

Over the centuries Lao-tse's classic teachings
were developed and divided into philosophical,
monastic, and folk religious forms. All of
these could be included under the general
heading of Taoism. But the basic Taoism that
we are concerned with here is simply a
particular way of appreciating, learning from,
and working with whatever happens in
everyday life. From the Taoist point of view,
the natural result of this harmonious way of
living is happiness. You might say that happy
serenity is the most noticeable characteristic
of the Taoist personality, and a subtle sense
of humor is apparent even in the most
profound Taoist writings, such as the
twenty-five-hundred-year-old Tao Te Ching.
In the writings of Taoism's second major
writer, Chuang-tse (JUANGdsuh), quiet
laughter seems to bubble up like water from
a fountain.

"But what does that have to do with
venegar?" asked Pooh
"I thought I had explained that" I said
"I don't think so" said Pooh
"Well, then, I'll explain it now"
"That's good", said Pooh

In the painting, why is Lao-tse smiling? After
all, that vinegar that represents life must
certainly have an unpleasant taste, as the
expressions on the faces of the other two
men indicate. But, through working in harmony
with life's circumstances, Taoist
understanding changes what others may
perceive as negative into something positive.
From the Taoist point of view, sourness and
bitterness come from the interfering and
unappreciative mind. Life itself, when
understood and utilized for what it is, is
sweet. That is the message of The Vinegar
Tasters.

"Sweet? You mean like honey?" asked Pooh
"Well, maybe not that sweet" I said "That
would be overdoing it a bit"
"Are we still supposed to be in China" Pooh
asked cautiously.
"No, we're through explaining and now we're
back at the writing table".
"oh"

"Well, we're just in time for a little
something" he added, wandering over to the
kitchen cupboard

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Post Re: The Tao of Pooh

Post by Light Mystic on Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:38 pm

Delightful! Thank you so much for posting more! I eagerly await the next section if you want to post it!

I love what this last passage said. It really made me consider the nature of the process of growth, and I realized that, while each understanding is greater and more complete than the previous (confucious, buddha, lao tzu)-at least as this author explains it, each have their important role to play in the process of waking up. I know it did for me, and I can see that in others.

Intially, there is stagnation and ignorance, that can only be overcome by a desire for change. Change in the world, change in lifestyle, change in friends, and values, or whatever change seems appropriate.
Secondly, there is the realization that all of those "needed" changes are still part of relative existence, a place of constant change, death, and boundaries, where nothing can last. Thus, the desire to "awaken" or "become enlightened" to transcend the world of boundaries. The seeker sets out on this path.
Finally, after the Transcendental Allness of the Divine is seen to be an ever present force that one is not, and cannot, be separate from. This leads our journeyman to the realization that Relative existence is, in fact, the expression and representation of and infinite number of delightful fluctuations of that same Divine Presence, and is LITERALLY no different than that Presence in it's purest form.

From that perspective and experience, every aspect of existence is wonderful, robust, rich, and peaceful, even those that were viewed as "blocks" to that place before.
I've found that each path must be followed to the end to fully attain the fruits of that path, and find the fruits of the next. But this can happen at any time, depending one what you want and need.

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Post Re: The Tao of Pooh

Post by Sarveswara on Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:43 am

Eloquently said Mystic; I agree with your summation that every process of awakening is unique and different than another’s, yet the outcome is one in the same. Union with peace, (GOD)!



To go with the flow of our own individual process is the key!



Mixsy, I am so enjoying reading this story along with you and the others as you place it here as Gods time avails itself to do so, it is a wonderful tool of enlightenment for those of us who are lead here to read it. Again I look forward to the next segment. hug

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Post The next chapter - The Tao of Who? - Part 1

Post by Akindra on Mon May 05, 2008 12:45 pm

THE TAO OF WHO?



We were discussing the definition of wisdom late one night, and we were just about to fall asleep from it all when Pooh remarked that his understanding of Taoist principles had been passed down to him from certain Ancient Ancestors.



"Like who?" I asked.

"Like Pooh Tao-tse, the famous Chinese painter" Pooh said

"Thats Wu Tao-tse"

"Or how about Li Pooh, the famous Taoist poet" Pooh asked cautiously.

"You mean Li Po" I said

"Oh" said Pooh, looking down at his feet.

Then I thought of something. "That doesn't really matter anyway" I said, "because one of the most important principles of Taoism was named after you"

"Really?" Pooh asked, looking more hopeful.

"Of course - P'u, the Uncarved Block"

"I'd forgotten" said Pooh



So here we are, about to try to explain P'u, the Uncarved Block. In the classic Taoist manner, we won't try too hard or explain too much, because that would only confuse things, and because it would leave the impression that it was all only an intellectual ideas that could be left on the intellectual level and ignored. Then you could say "Well, this idea is all very nice, but what does it amount to?" So instead, we will try to show what it amounts to, in various ways.



P'u, by the way, is pronounced sort of like Pooh, but without so much oo - like the sound you make when blowing a fly off your arm on a hot summer day.



Before we bring our resident expert in for a few illuminating remarks, let's explain something.



The essence of the principle of the Uncarved Block is that things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed.

For the written character P'u, the typical Chinese dictionary will give a definition of "natural, simple, plain, honest" P'u is composed of two separate characters combined: the first, the "radical" or root meaning one, is that for tree or wood; the second, the "phonetic" or sound giving one, is the character for dense growth or thicket. So from "tree in a thicket" or "wood not cut" comes the meaning of "things in their natural state" - what is generally represented in English versions of Taoist writing as the "uncarved block".



This basic Taoist principle applies not only to things in their natural beauty and function, but to people as well. Or Bears. Which brings us to Pooh, the very epitome of the Uncarved Block. As an illustration of the principle, he may appear a bit too simple at times....

"I think it's more to the right" said Piglet nervously. "What do you think, Pooh?"

Pooh looked at his two paws. He knew that one of them was the right, and he knew that when you had decided which one of them was the right, then the other one was the left, but he never could remember how to begin.

"Well" he said slowly –



...but no matter how he may seem to others, especially to those fooled by appearances, Pooh, the Uncarved Block, is able to accomplish what he does because he is simpleminded. As any old Taoist walking out of the woods can tell you, simpleminded does not necessarily mean stupid. It's rather significant that the Taoist ideal is that of the still, calm, reflecting "mirror-mind" of the Uncarved Block, and it's rather significant that Pooh, rather than the thinkers Rabbit, Owl, or Eeyore, is the true hero of Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner:

"The fact is" said Rabbit, "we've missed our way somehow"

They were having a rest in a small sand-pit on the top of the Forest. Pooh was getting rather tired of that sand-pit, and suspected it of following them about, because whichever direction they started in, they always ended up at it, and each time, as it came through the mist at them, Rabbit said triumphantly, "Now I know where we are!" and Pooh said sadly, "So do I" and Piglet said nothing. He had tried to think of something to say, but the only thing he could think of was "Help, help" and it

seemed silly to say that, when he had Pooh and Rabbit with him.

"Well" said Rabbit, after a long silence in which nobody thanked him for the nice walk they were having, "we'd better get on, I suppose. Which way shall we try?"

"How would it be" said Pooh slowly "if, as soon as we're out of sight of this pit, we try to find it again?"

"What's the good of that?" said Rabbit

"Well" said Pooh "we keep looking for home and not finding it, so I thought that if we looked for this pit, we'd be sure not to find it, which would be a good thing, because then we might find something that we weren’t looking for, which might be just what we were looking for really"

"I don't see much sense in that: said Rabbit...

"If I walked away from this pit, and then walked back to it, of course I should find it"

"Well, I thought perhaps you wouldn't" said Pooh "I just thought"

"Try" said Piglet suddenly, "We'll wait here for you"

Rabbit gave a laugh to show how silly Piglet was, and walked into the mist. After he had gone a hundred yards, he turned and walked back again....and after Pooh and Piglet had waited twenty minutes for him, Pooh got up.

"I just thought" said Pooh "Now then, Piglet, let's go home"

"But Pooh" cried Piglet, all excited "do you know the way?"

"No" said Pooh "But there are twelve pots of honey in my cupboard, and they've been calling to me for hours. I couldn't hear them properly before, because Rabbit would talk, but if nobody says anything except those twelve pots, I think, Piglet, I shall know where they're calling from. Come on"

They walked off together; and for a long time Piglet said nothing, so as not to interrupt the post; and then suddenly he made a squeaky noise...and an oo-noise...because now he began to know where he was; but he still didn't dare to say so out loud, in case he wasn't. And just when he was getting so sure of himself that it didn't matter whether the pots went on calling or not, there was a shout in front of them, and out of the mist came Christopher Robin.

After all, if it were Cleverness that counted most, Rabbit would be Number One, instead of that Bear. But that's not the way things work.

"We've come to wish you a very happy Thursday" said Pooh, when he had gone in and out once or twice just to make sure that he could get out again.

"Why, what's going to happen on Thursday?" asked Rabbit, and when Pooh had explained, and Rabbit, whose life was made up of Important things, said "Oh, I thought you'd really come about something" they sat down for a little...and by and by Pooh and Piglet went on again. The wind was behind them now,

so they didn't have to shout.

"Rabbit's clever" said Pooh thoughtfully

"Yes" said Piglet "Rabbits clever"

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Post The next chapter - The Tao of Who? - Part 2

Post by Akindra on Mon May 05, 2008 12:46 pm

"And he has a brain"

"yes" said Piglet "Rabbit has a brain"

There was a long silence.

"I suppose" said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything"

And if clever Rabbit doesn't quite have what it takes, Abrasive Eeyore certainly doesn't either. Why not? because of what we could call the Eeyore attitude. You might say that while Rabbit's little routine is that of knowledge for the sake of being clever, and while Owl's is that of Knowledge for the sake of appearing wise, Eeyore's is knowledge for the sake of complaining about something. As anyone who doesn’t have it can see, the Eeyore attitude gets in the way of things like wisdom and happiness, and pretty much prevents any sort of real accomplishment in life:

Eeyore, the old grey donkey, stood by the side of the stream, and looked at himself in the water.

"Pathetic" he said "That's what it is. Pathetic"

He turned and walked slowly down the stream for twenty yards, splashed across it, and walked slowly back on the other side. Then he looked at himself in the water again.

"As I thought" he said "No better from this side. But nobody minds. Nobody cares. Pathetic, that's what it is"

There was a crackling noise in the bracken behind him, and out came Pooh.

"Good morning Eeyore" said Pooh

“Good morning, Pooh Bear” said Eeyore gloomily “If it is a good morning” he said “Which I doubt” said he.

“Why, what’s the matter?”

“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it”

It’s not that the Eeyore attitude is necessarily without a certain severe sort of humour….

“Hallo, Eeyore” they called out cheerfully.

“Ah!” said Eeyore “Lost your way?”

“We just cam to see you” said Piglet “And to see how your house was. Look, Pooh, it’s still standing!”

“I know” said Eeyore. “Very odd. Somebody ought to have come down and pushed it over”

“We wondered whether the wind would blow it down” said Pooh

“Ah, that’s why nobody’s bothered, I suppose. I thought perhaps they’d forgotten”

…it’s just that it’s really not so awfully much fun. Not like a few other points of view we can think of. A little too complex or something. After all, what is it about Pooh that makes him so lovable?



“Well, to begin with----------------------“ said Pooh.

Yes, well to begin with ,we have the principle of the uncarved block. After all, what is the most appealing thing about Pooh? What else but---------------

“Well, to begin with--------------“

Simplicity, the simplicity of the uncarved block? And the nicest thing about that simplicity is its useful wisdom, the what-is-there-to-eat variety – wisdom you can get at.

Considering that, let’s have Pooh describe the nature of the uncarved block.



“All right, Pooh, what can you tell us about the uncarved block?”

“The what? Asked Pooh, sitting up suddenly and opening his eyes.

“The uncarved block. You know…”

“Oh, the …..Oh”

“What do you have to say about it?”
“I didn’t do it” said Pooh


“You---------“

“It must have been Piglet” he said

“I did not” squeaked Piglet

“Oh, Piglet. Where did you-------“

“I didn’t” Piglet said.

“Well then, it was probably Rabbit” said Pooh

“It wasn’t me!” Piglet insisted

“Did someone call?” said Rabbit, popping up from behind a chair.

“Oh, Rabbit” I said “We’re talking about the uncarved block”

“Haven’t seen it” said Rabbit “but I’ll go ask Owl”

“That won’t be nec…..” I began

“Too late now” said Pooh “He’s gone”

“I never even heard of the uncarved block” said Piglet

“Neither did I” said Pooh, rubbing his ear

“It’s just a figure of speech” I said

“A what of who?” asked Pooh

“A figure of speech. It means that, well, the uncarved block is a way of saying ‘like Pooh’”

“Oh, is that all?” said Piglet

“I wondered” said Pooh.



Pooh can’t describe the uncarved block to us in words; he just is it. That’s the nature of the uncarved block.

“A perfect description. Thank you, Pooh”

“Not at all” said Pooh



When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the uncarved block: life is fun.



Now one autumn morning when the wind had blown all the leaves off the trees in the night, and was trying to blow the branches off, Pooh and Piglet were sitting in the thoughtful spot and wondering.

“What I think” said Pooh “is I think we’ll go to Pooh Corner and see Eeyore, because perhaps his house has been blown down, and perhaps he’d like us to build it again”

“What I think” said Piglet “is I think we’ll go and see Christopher Robin, only he won’t be there, so we can’t”

“Lets go and see everybody” said Pooh “Because when you’ve been walking in the wind fore miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says “Hallo Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something’ and you are, then it’s what I call a friendly day”

Piglet thought that they ought to have a reason for going to see everybody, like looking for Small or organizing an expotition, if Pooh could think of something.

Pooh could.

“We’ll go because it’s Thursday” he said “and we’ll go to wish everybody a very happy Thursday. Come on Piglet”



From the state of the uncarved block comes the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work, odd as that may appear to others at times. As Piglet put it in Winnie-the-Pooh, “Pooh hasn’t much brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right”

To understand all this a little better, it might help to look at someone who is quite the opposite – someone like, well, say, Owl for example……

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Glenda :-) May the realisation of all paths leading to the same truth become fruitful in this age of religious intolerance.
Akindra
Akindra
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