Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Tao of Pooh


I was browsing the bookstore shelves, looking for another book on philosophy to send to my son who is working at a summer camp with no TV and very little internet, when I came upon this little gem, The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. It's only 158 pages, so I took the liberty of reading it before mailing it off to Colorado.

Hoff uses the simplicity of Winnie-the-Pooh to examine the basic teachings of Lao-tse in the Tao Te Ching (Tao Virtue Book). He compares the simplicity of Pooh to the "Uncarved Block," or what is natural and plain, representing the quiet nature that does things spontaneously rather than over thinking and over planning. He examines the habit of trying to arrange things to fit a predetermined view of how life should be and contrasts that with simply living life, day by day. He claims that for those who go through life in this simple way, things just have a way of working themselves out. Quoting Piglet he writes:

"Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right."

A similar concept Hoff explores is the Wu Wei, or as he calls it, the Pooh Way "without doing, causing, or making." He compares it to water flowing around the rocks, rather than trying to force a straight path through them. Tao literally means "Way," and he contends that going with the flow and listening to our intuition gives us a Sensitivity to Circumstances that helps guide our path.

Now that it's summer, its easier to believe that life can be so simple. I just hope I remember the lesson come September.

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