Winnie the Pooh and Taoism
This book by Benjamin Hoff was an interesting read and a fascinating approach to describing Taoism. I recognized many of the stories used in the text from when I read the stories as a child. The Author was able to take ideas as complex as a religion and simplify them into concepts illustrated by a children’s book without losing their meaning.
One of the first main points emphasized is that there are many different types of people in this world and they all have different views and outlooks on life. This is demonstrated through the vinegar example on page two where each person in the picture has a different reaction to the taste. I enjoyed the conversation about people’s differences on page 42 where Pooh thought they were discussing mud. Not only are people different though, people need to understand that these differences are important and people essential in how we live. “The way to self reliance starts with recognizing who we are, what we’ve got to work with, and what works best for us.” Each of us is different. The book uses the example of the ugly duckling because he did not realize he was special until he turned into a swan.
The book emphasizes the importance of simplicity in life. “The surest way to become tense, awkward and confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much.” The Wu Wei comes from the mind that follows the simple nature of things and through that life’s problems resolve themselves.
Life is fun and the key to happiness is to enjoy it rather than searching and never finding it. In the chapter Bisy Backson, sitting back and relaxing is emphasized. I especially liked the part where Hoff is talking to Pooh and asks him why he is not doing anything important with his day, and Pooh replies that he is, that he is listening to the birds.
This ties into the point that the book makes about saving time. “The main problem is this great obsession for saving time is simple: you can’t save time, you can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.” The important thing is to enjoy the time you have rather than worry about trying to get more time. Doing nothing is often the most relaxing and most enjoyable activity.
The final part of the book discusses a Taoist form of reaching enlightenment. This would be when the person has stopped worrying, stopped doing and even stopped thinking. As quoted in the text, originally from the Tao Te Ching by Lao-tse, “to attain knowledge, add things every day, to attain wisdom, remove things every day.” The most enlightened individual is one who can return to a child like mind state. I think one of my favorite parts of this book is how much I can relate to the teachings it illustrates.