Sci-Fi, beloved childhood cartoon characters, and ancient Chinese philosophy... Now we're having some fun!

2년 전

In my previous post, I explained how I use parables to help my students understand the basic beliefs of Hinduism. Now it's time to take a look at some of my lessons on Taoism.*

If this were a true Yin and Yang symbol, there would be a bit of light in Darth Vader (which Luke always believed there to be), and a little dark in Yoda. Perhaps Yoda speaks backwards to mess with people? That would be a little dark... and hilarious.

Considering that Taoism is based on simplicity, it is a bit ironic that it is one of the most complex religions to teach. Taoism is based on the teachings of of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. I apologize for sounding like every bad graduation speech ever but... Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "The Tao" as the "unconditional and unknowable source and guiding principle of all reality as conceived by Taoists or the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony."

Hmmm that sounds kind of complicated. How can I explain this to Drake? I'm going to need some help. Luckily for me, the writer of the greatest film series in the history of time happened to directly rip off the Tao for his films.

When I teach about Taoism, I always start by introducing the founder, Lao Tzu, and then explain that Taoists believe in a Force called the Tao. I ask the class if they know of any other philosophy centered around a Force. Considering my students have known me for more than 30 seconds, and they know what I am obsessed with, several students always shout out, "Star Wars"! (It makes me so proud).

I smile, turn on the classroom projector, and instruct my students to listen for the word "Force" in the following clip. I instruct them to mentally replace it with "Tao". Then I hit "play" and show them the following scene from The Empire Strikes Back.

After showing the clip, I immediately ask the students if they think Taoists believe that there is a magical Force that can move objects? They think about it, and say "no". We continue our discussion as to why I would show a clip if it weren't exactly true. Eventually the students come to the realization that this clip is just meant to be a starting point for the lesson. It helps them to wrap their heads around the idea that Taoists believe that following the "flow" of nature is the key to happiness.

Even after this introduction, nearly all of the students are still a bit confused. For most of them, this belief system is incredibly different from their own religion. For Drake... he seems to be a bit befuddled all the time. Luckily for me, the writer of one of the greatest children's book series in the history of time happened to create a character who perfectly illustrates many of the ideas of Taoism.

Who is this tubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff?

He's Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, a willy, nilly, silly old bear... who perfectly illustrates many of the teachings of a 2700 year old ancient Chinese philosophy (they usually leave that last line out of the song).

Even more fortunate, is the fact that author Benjamin Hoff recognized Pooh as the epitome of Taoism as well. Then Hoff decided to write an entire book about it called, The Tao of Pooh.

Because I do not have time for my class to read the entire book (although I wish we did), I had to be very strategic in finding one chapter that will provide the most "bang for the buck". The second chapter does just that. In only thirteen very short pages, by using Pooh and his friends as recognizable examples, Hoff provides an incredibly accessible avenue for students to learn about the basic Taoist concepts of: The Uncarved Block, the importance of nature, enjoying life, being spontaneous, and the value of natural simplicity.

Similar to the Hinduism parables, I provide questions for the students to answer as they read the chapter. Those students with severe reading disabilities are supported by their peers or an adult. Again, these questions do not go very far in terms of depth of knowledge. They are text based questions whose purpose is to provide the background knowledge needed to participate in a classroom discussion. During this discussion the students are challenged to go deeper into the subject and to truly think.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.23.20 PM.png
These questions can help guide students as they read pages 9 to 21 of The Tao of Pooh.

As always, my students impress me during the follow-up discussion. It really is fun to see the "lightbulb go off" as they make connections between these familiar characters and a formerly unfamiliar Eastern philosophy.

In the final installment of this series, I will describe how I use an embarrassing personal story (of which I have many) to really solidify my students' understanding of the basic teachings of Taoism.

By the way, if there are any experts on Taoism out there, feel free to correct any mistakes I may be making. I learned everything I know from reading. I would imagine someone who is living it will know a great deal more than I do.

*Note: I teach about several world religions. I preach about none. Part of our required world history curriculum includes teaching the basic facts of several world religions. I would never try to sway students about their own beliefs. The goal is to educate students about what people around the world believe (and how these beliefs shaped history), not to tell them what they should believe.

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Thank you so much!!!!! I am trying to get him shut down in chat.

thanks for the excellent post. few thoughts i have on the topic.

Lao Tzu met Confucius. Lao Tzu's saw that order underlies everything, and that Confucius was trying to put order on top of order, and making a mess of everything.

Both thought the other brought anarchy.

Seems clear nature falls in balance, so I believe in inherent order in the universe, and that we do indeed make a mess by what we place upon without consideration for, the predefined order that exists.

To me this order means things like, following the ten commandments, not because someone will bash you from above, but because they in fact remind you what will cause suffering for you. Don't do these things because it won't end well, bad time. The masters of the world all speak of reaping what you sow, or karma. Anthony De Mello call a book on karma should be called 'you done it'.

so i have found you can get into the flow, and by that it means you can get your own. don't be jealous, get your own. if you don't want to do what it takes to get your own, then don't, and let go. sometimes the cost of something is higher than you want to pay. that is why i invest, invest in all i do so that i might get future rewards.

i believe living this way is the best way, that i've found, to approach life. because it means everyone is divine. so how you treat everything, is how you treat God, or yourself.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love how you ended this with "because it means everyone is divine. so how you treat everything, is how you treat God, or yourself." That is literally the exact lesson of one of the parables I described in my previous post called Shankara and his Disciples.

really you are a teacher who knows will give complex teaching to man. I just now know what Taoism is. i like your post. i always follow you. Thank you, my teacher. by, @ boyasyie

  ·  2년 전

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Just finished reading The Man in the High Castle 5 mins before seeing this post (lots of Taoist references in there for the uninitiated) so the universe is definitely trying to tell me something today.

Another great post anyway!

Great post. I'm always so interested in learning about the different religions of the world.

Yoda is more like "neutral" side, same as Luke.

@hanshotfirst thanks for this post, my biggest achievement is the ability to have an open mind over every understanding coming from others.

Happy to know better about the Toaism.

Mother Nature is always speaking. She speaks in a language understood within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer. Leopards, cobras, monkeys, rivers and trees; they all served as my teachers when I lived as a wanderer in the Himalayan foothills.


I have always thought of Taoism as a way for ancient Chinese Society to flow together in creating political and social cohesion. This is because the warrior, aristocrat would know their position and do it to the best of their abilities, thereby, creating social cohesion and stability

"Empire Strikes Back"... It's what Star Wars is all about (or Taoism ? :-) ) - As a fan of "the one and the only Star Wars movie, Empire Strikes Back" I already knew that Yoda's teachings were as deep as Eckhart Tolle's, but I was completely unaware that the force was also strong with Winnie the Pooh :))


I can tell you as a Taoist and Star Wars fan (especially Yoda) that George Lucas got the idea of the "Force" from Taoism, that is why it is easy to identify Taoist Philosophy in Star Wars i.e. the Jedi and the Force.


I wish George Lucas didn't mess it up, it's a very "sad" story, actually. I still can't believe the things they did with the prequel trilogy other than some fine moments in "Return Of The Sith" (but only "some"). It's so sad that such beautiful themes like "The Jedi", "The Force" wasted blatantly with simply idiotic writing (Non-Sense dialogues, lack of character development, no story at all) - It was also horrible to see a movie like "The Force Awakens" (does Force ever "sleep"?), a blatant copy of "A New Hope" in every single way. A Star Wars movie should have the "Mysticism" that "The Lord Of The Rings" movie series had once with Mr. Jackson... "Rogue One" had that soul and for the same reason it's my favorite with "Empire Strikes Back". Anyway, there is one thing for sure..: Lucas lacks Tao! :)


All the new movies are not directed by George Lucas. When he sold Lucasfilm to Disney who has ruined everything in the Star Wars universe, Lucas lost all saying to anything with Star Wars.

The Force Awaken as you said is just horrible because Lucas didn't create it.


Agree, but "being created by Lucas" also does not guarantee a "great experience" in the first place (i.e. Prequel series) - I think George Lucas' attitude towards the legend he created can be a great Movie (of course, a very sad one) :))


And also, when it comes to LightSaber fights, this is far better than what we see in official movies. Millions of dollars wasted. I don't remember a single LightSaber duel that I had "real" tension... You know, those are LightSabers after all, they touch, and they cut. But thanks to the Lucas' greed, for the sake of having more viewers in cinemas, LightSabers turned into an "innocent weapon" that kills like a pistol :) Sad.


For sure. I stress that with my students as well.

The Tao or Dao is not a religion. Those that practice the Dao as a religion are the ones you need to stay away from.

The Dao is a universal force that is recognized in Asian cultures and from that theories and philosophy can be derived from it. Even True Buddhism recognizes the Dao.

Eastern Christianity or Orthodox Christianity also recognizes the Dao. There is a very good book to read that relates the Dao in True Christianity. The book is called "Christ the Eternal Tao."

FYI...the correct way to pronounce the Tao is Dao. In the Chinese language there is no hard consonant like "T" unless you are making curse words.


Great feedback! This is exactly the type I was hoping to get. I will be careful to make that distinction with my students. I do always pronounce the word with the “d” sound but it is good to be reminded.


I forgot to ask you a question. I understand what you are saying about the misuse of the word "religion". Would calling Taoism a "philosophy" be more accurate in your opinion?


Yes, I would say it is more of a philosophy.

An example, such as applying the theories in real with nature and understanding cycles of it is the practice of it. Traditional Chinese Medicine practices are all Daoist principles and teaching.

Then you also have Qi Gong which uses Daoist theories to strengthen the physical body.

Then there is a deeper side such as connecting with the Dao, which is the spiritual side.

True Daoism doesn't worship spirits which some of the Modern Daoist practice do, which becomes a religion. That's a big No-No. In China, they are scam artist. The most common scam that some of these Daoist monks are doing is tricking people in giving them money so that they can align the energy to give good luck. Some of these Daoist monk act like shamans that claim they can manipulate the energies of the universe.

The more despicable thing is tricking underage girls to have sex with the Daoist monk to give good luck.

I have always explained the Dao as the Force, along with some of my Daoist friends.

My World Religions teacher assigned The Tao of Pooh to my high school class of 2000. I still have my copy. Worth every penny.

Thank you for this

This is really lovely to read!!!!

Wow, this is indeed awesome, I like how you draw similarities between two completely different things. Am inspired to do something similar with Japanese Anime.

Excellent post. There is more basis to your analysis then you out in your post. Star Wars was greatly inspired by Eastern cultures, by stating that, you could make you claim and your analysis stronger.

i really wish you were my teacher when i was younger and studying,

thankyou for the way you teach, enlighting humans.

i love your method of presentation..nice post there.. @hanshotfirst ..upped

I am a practising Daoist of the philosophical Dao (not religious), I have been now for 18 years. The religious sects of Daoism are derivations of the sun and moon aspects of the Yin Yang. But, I would say that to separate that which is inseparable illuminates the reality that dividing Sun and Moon is a disunity of harmony...the very thing Daoist are governed and regulated by. I feel that the ethics in the origin of Dao are excellent for promoting the universal existential premise that enables connection. Coincidentally, that's were George Lucas got the idea for the force...well that and the whole philosophy of Star Wars. That is why Yoda is my hero. His greatest Daoist remark is "Do...or do not, there is no try. There is one powerful dragon amongst the trees...

We train with this energy, the man who taught me stated the closest thing to the energy in our art is 'The Force' in Star Wars. Like one of our Mantras is 'What can kill can also heal' (This duality being the nature of the force also in that it can be used to generate light or darkness) and the Dao de jing is a work we and the many others who train in our art are deeply familiar with. Interestingly our art since was and will never be named because of much much older traditions than what are seen as 'traditional' martial arts (because to name something is to own it and ours is not to own, simply experience)...Anyway, nice vid :)

thankyou sharing such a amazing post

wonderful post as always :)

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@hanshofirst Loved this post. I loved the insight about Taoism .

  ·  2년 전

poo vader

Excellent post thanks for sharing!!!

It was so clear, makes me understand yin-yang better

i sent you sdb and waiting for you


Oh no!!! That was a scam. Please see this post:

What account did you send it to?


I sent that 2.5 SBD back to you. In the future, please be very careful not to fall for the scammers' tricks.

Extremely interesting read. I have heard the terms you are using but never indulged in the learning of it. I know there are many religions out there but I'm more concerned in furthering my own beliefs. Thank you for this post.

Good post

This post was very informative thank you for sharing
you have my upvote plus a resteem

Can't wait to hear your experience! Although I hadn't heard of Taoism I will definitely look more into it as I am a true believer of energy and force.

This is good information, you always update the data to facilitate and analyze. This is a good job. nice video.thanks for sharing.

there are so msny point to understand as lession, there is no limit for learning and time doesn't matter, this article is useful for me, thanks.

  ·  2년 전

awesome post and fluent for reading !

The force is strong in Tao. They do share some similar principles.

I did not know these things about taoism, it is wonderful that we learn everyday new things

nice post

nice post..
Thank you for sharing that...

hmmm... interesting take on interesting stuff..!!!!!

I like the Star Wars Ying and Yang. LOL, but totally true. A lot of it is in the Star Wars story by purpose.

Very cool! Much better if we had these kinds of classes when I was a kid, rather than theology (the word we use for "religious studies" in my country, but really it's just one religion being taught!)

There's a problem with education today and it's good when you can find ways to simplify things and draw connections between the subject and popular culture. But, of course, that popular culture first has to be created! More educated people should be going into "mass culture" fields instead of locking themselves up inside their Ivory Towers.

Congratulations @hanshotfirst!
Your post was mentioned in the hit parade in the following category:

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I heard recently that Lucas consulted a Taoist Priest to help him fathom 'The Force' Personally, I think this is why we resonate with the movie so strongly. It's always the truth, the archetype and the inner truth that gets us really excited on the inside. Cool post! ... And I think it's pretty obvious that the little weird green dude living alone in the swamp probably has a bit of darkness in him lol

  • What is meaning of tao.
  • Tao is Tao.
  • Tao meaning Tao.
  • Sure...

@hanshotfirst Really good post.

Good article friend

Ha! Your students are getting a greater education than most. It's great how you're able to use things you're passionate about to teach. I've often done the same thing. I think I've used the Force=Tao analogy before, but I have yet to use Pooh, so that's a great TIL for me. The irony of Taoism being quite complicated to learn always cracks me up haha Right at the end, when people realize that they're thinking about it way too much is one of the best lightbulb moments ever. I'm sure your students appreciate all the lessons!

your post is very interesting, I am waiting for your next post. hopefully there are new things that i read.

And what about The Te of Piglet? Will you write something about it as well?

That Drake meme was the thing that pulled me here.
If you ever wonder what is the story behind that meme checkout my blog.

great post my dear friend.....go a head ...following and of course upvoted

Thanks for the excellent submit! @hanshotfirst