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Tao Of Pooh
(Hoff, Benjamin)

The TAO OF POOH, by Benjamin Hoff, was my first real foray into Eastern thought. The book began as an attempt to help students understand the difficult concept underlying Taoism and Lao Tzu?s TAO te CHING (I abstracted that work on shvoong also). As a westerner, he found that using the character of Winnie the Pooh was valuable for his students.
It is valuable because many young children of the West know Winnie the Pooh. His lassiez faire attitude is the hallmark of his character. He represents a happy, certain take-it-as-it-comes, relax and enjoy life person. Moreover, he stands in stark contrast to the other characters that he calls friends. Often, the contrast is a necessary element in understanding Pooh.
The TAO TE CHING and Taoism are complex and elusive propositions to grasp. Even Lao Tzu explains that the Tao is unnamed and unnamable; unknowable and known by all. Western society is one that embraces certainty. Our minds are attuned to a worldview that, if we don?t already, believes that everything is possibly answerable. The only questions we haven?t yet answered are just that: YET to be answered. Like Pooh to his friends, this is a stark contrast to the Tao.
Hoff has found that Pooh is a capable vehicle for understanding the embodiment of the Tao. Like all metaphors though, one must be careful to realize that he is a comparison and not the Tao itself.
One should always study an original text before moving on to tangent texts like this one. I was young and unfamiliar with the actual TAO TE CHING when I stumbled on to the TAO OF POOH. This is not to disparage Hoff?s work because it is good. What I want to say is that reading the TAO OF POOH first was problematic. On one hand, it gave me an easier time, as compared to my classmates, in the basic concepts of the TAO TE CHING; on the other, it clouded my ability to get to its heart on my own. I was often stuck clinging to Hoff?s interpretation as I had learned it. Read the primary text fiurst and then this wonderful guide.

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