Synopsis (Goodreads): Pooh’s Way of doing things seems strangely close to the ancient principle of Taoist philosophy, while Piglet exhibits the very important principle in Taoism of the Te, meaning Virtue of the Small. The author’s explanations of Taoism and Te through Pooh and Piglet show that this is not an ancient and remote philosophy but something that you can use, here and now.
My awareness of the existence of The Tao of Pooh came about through a reference in an article on Flow that I recently read. I have always loved Winnie-the-Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood stories and the Bear of Small Brain simple living philosophy he represented, so I was intrigued to see how it tied in with Taoism, which I must confess I knew little about.
Taoism is described as the relationship between the individual and the world; the natural harmony that exists between heaven and earth, which can be found by anyone at any time. It is, simply put, a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life – the natural result of which is happiness.
There is a lot of emphasis on recognising your inner nature and working with things as they are – nothing should be forced and what is worth doing will require minimal effort if it is right for you. One of my favourite paragraphs, and one which will give you a good idea as to the tone the book sets, reads:
No two snowflakes, trees, or animals are alike. No two people are the same, either. Everything has its own Inner Nature. Unlike other forms of life though, people are easily led away from what’s right for them, because people have Brain, and Brain can be fooled. But many people do not look at it or listen to it, and consequently do not understand themselves very much. Having little understanding of themselves, they have little respect for themselves, and are therefore easily influenced by others.
This is the type of book that different readers will take away different lessons from, depending on their individual state of mind and stage of life, but in summary, I thought that both The Tao of Pooh and Te of Piglet were amazing and thoroughly charming! In Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff concentrates more on how Pooh embodies Taoism, while Eeyore, Tigger and the others get more focus in The Te of Piglet. The only part I have to confess I skim-read was the rant in the final chapter of Te of Piglet on the state of the world, government, business, and everything in between. That was a minor peeve though, and overall I found myself reading, re-reading and pondering much of what was written.
I’m going to wrap up this post with five of my favourite takeaways, quoted below:
- The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.
- We need to teach our children to focus the mind. Instant information accumulation is not understanding, and sometimes it takes more than 5 minutes to grasp a concept.
- The worthwhile and important things in life, like wisdom and happiness, cannot be chased after and grabbed. They are instead, the sort of things that come to us where we are, if we let them – of we stop trying too hard and just let things happen as they need to.
- Most major difficulties are caused by the failure to observe the minor difficulties that they start out as. The overwhelming tendency in industrial society is to ignore small problems until they become enormous, and then panic.
- Perhaps the bad things are gifts to help us grow: problems to solve, situations to learn to avoid, habits to change, conditions to accept, lessons to learn, things to transform – all opportunities to find wisdom, happiness and truth.