Madeline Ashton Mr.

Matich English Honors, 3A May 2, 2012 Tao of Pooh Essay The Tao Te Ching was written over 2,500 years ago. The Tao, or “the way,” describes thoughts and actions you could follow to gain peace and happiness in life. Benjamin Hoff wrote the Tao of Pooh to “explain things a bit” (1). With the happy simplicity of Pooh Bear in the principle of Cottlestone Pie, Wu Wei, and P’u, Hoff makes abstract ideas of Taoism accessible to the modern western mind. The Cottlestone Pie principle is based on a song in Winnie-the-Pooh. It goes like this: Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie, A fly can’t bird but a bird can fly. Ask me a riddle and I reply: “Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie.” Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie, A fish can’t whistle and neither can I. Ask me a riddle and I reply: “Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie.” Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie, Why does a chicken, I don’t know why. Ask me a riddle and I reply: “Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie.”

In the Tao of Pooh Hoff explains Cottlestone Pie as another way to say Inner Nature. Inner Nature is a person’s unique way of being. It is your natural instinct or what you are meant to be. If you pay attention to it you will be able to understand yourself and won’t be easily misguided.

The first part of the song, “A fly can’t bird but a bird can fly,” (Hoff 39) means that everything and everyone has its own unique place in the world. Things are as they are and you shouldn’t try to fight that. Instead you should work with it and let guide you. The second verse, “A fish can’t whistle and neither can I,” (Hoff 39) means everyone has their limits. Hoff mentions a story in which Tigger tries to climb a tree but ends up getting stuck. Tigger has some great qualities, but climbing isn’t one that comes naturally to him. Not everyone can be good at everything, and that’s not a bad thing. Recognizing your weaknesses can help you improve, but if you ignore the fact that you have flaws you will never be able to overcome your limitations. The third verse, “Why does a chicken, I don’t know why,” (Hoff 39) explains that you don’t need to know everything. You should concentrate on what’s in front of you. Work on getting to know your Inner Nature and focus on things that really matter. Wu Wei is one of the most characteristic elements of Taoism. In the Tao of Pooh Hoff explains it like this: “When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle.” (75) He also mentions egotistical desire would want to force the square peg into a round hole, cleverness would try to find a crafty way to make it work, and knowledge would figure out why certain pegs fit in certain holes. You don’t need to struggle to get things done, just go with the flow and eventually it will happen. P’u, or the Uncarved Block, can be translated to mean “things in their natural state.” (11) The concept of P’u is that everything in their most simple and unspoiled forms have their own power, but if they are changed from that natural state their power can be lost. Pooh Bear is a simple creature, but with his uncluttered mind he is able to accomplish a lot. His simplicity and

empty mind allow answers to come through clearly, almost accidentally. He is only able to receive solutions because he is simpleminded and unspoiled. Winnie the Pooh is a great example of Taoism. He is down-to-earth and happy to just go along with the direction that life takes him. Benjamin Hoff did an excellent job of describing P’u, Wu Wei, and Cottlestone Pie through Pooh Bear in a way that can be easily understood by anyone. Each of these principles of Taoism focuses on the ease of just being what you are. They explain that you should let your surroundings and unique instinct guide you through the rapids of life.