Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Tao of Pooh

Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh is an easy introduction to Taoism. (I'd give a link to Powells.com, but the site isn't responding right now.)
Hoff refers to the Tao Te Ching, and uses Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, and company for illustration.

A basic principle of (Taoism) was that this Way of the Universe could not be adequately described in words... Still, its nature could be understood...
For example, Taoists talk about the "Uncarved Block," or things in their original simplicity:
When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way... you will discover that simple... mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.

Piglet thought that they ought to have a Reason for going to see everybody, like Looking for Small or Organizing an Expotition, if Pooh could think of something.
Pooh could.
"We'll go because it's Thursday," he said, and we'll go to wish everybody a Very Happy Thursday. Come on, Piglet."

From the state of the Uncarved Block comes the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work, odd as that may appear to others at times...
The animals in the Forest don't think too much; they just Are... If you compare the City with the Forest, you may begin to wonder why it's man who goes around classifying himself as The Superior Animal.
"Superior to what?" asked Pooh.
"I don't know, Pooh. I've tried to think of something, but I just can't come up with an answer."
"If people were Superior to Animals, they'd take better care of the world," said Pooh.
"That's true," I said.

Hoff explains the concept of Wu Wei -
The Wu Wei approach to conflict-solving can be seen in the practice of the Taoist martial art Tai Chi... the basic idea of which is to wear the opponent out either by sending his energy back at him or by deflecting it away, in order to weaken his power, balance, and position-for-defense. Never is force opposed with force; instead, it is overcome with yielding.
From a chapter Hoff calls "Bisy Backson:"
Practically speaking, if timesaving devices really saved time, there would be more time available to us now than ever before in history. But, strangely enough, we seem to have less time than even a few years ago. It's really great fun to go someplace where there are no timesaving devices because, when you do, you find that you have lots of time.
Finally, quoting A.A. Milne, Hoff ends his "Cottleston Pie" chapter -
For a long time they looked at the river beneath them, saying nothing, and the river said nothing too, for it felt very quiet and peaceful on this summer afternoon.
"Tigger is all right really, said Piglet lazily.
"Of course he is," said Christopher Robin.
"Everybody is really," said Pooh. "That's what I think," said Pooh. "But I don't suppose I'm right," he said.
"Of course you are," said Christopher Robin.

I recommend The Tao of Pooh. And the originals, Winnie-The-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner, are to be enjoyed again and again.
A Very Happy Thursday!


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