How are you all doing? After a restful weekend, I can’t wait to share with you the topic and the book I chose for my reading challenge this month. It was such a difficult thing, I had to go and peruse the bookshelves in town to find some inspiration, The topic I chose was Read a new genre. Now, I really am a creature of habit so this really did push me out of my comfort zone. I knew that if I went too far away, I’d never finish whatever it was I’d end up choosing. Thankfully, I stumbled across a section I’d not quite considered before: philosophy. Thus, I chose The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. I am the first to admit I know very little about philosophy or spirituality really. However, the character I can remember (until Harry Potter fever kicked in) most from my earliest childhood days is Winnie the Pooh. Oh my, I loved that bear so. This would going to be my bridge to a new genre. I actually ended up really enjoying it. I hope you do too.
What’s it all about?
In this lovely little book, Benjamin Hoff uses excerpts from both Winnie the Pooh and ancient Taoist writings. One of the first concepts that Pooh Bear embodies so well is that scholarly thinking and learning can get in the way of inner peace. He exemplifies this by talking about where Winnie the Pooh was struggling to spell Tuesday.
“…you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.”
In other words there is more to wisdom than being correct and Winnie the Pooh exemplifies this in the cutest possible way.
The next Taoist principle is that everything has its place and its function, the idea that square pegs are in square holes and round pegs are in round holes. Pooh Bear never attempts to be someone or something he is not but he is always content and happy with his lot in life. So many of us strive and fight to fit in or to conform. Therefore, it is refreshing to think that maybe it is ok to be who we are.
“We don’t need to imitate Nearsighted Science which peers at the world through an electron microscope. We don’t need to play Abstract Philosopher, asking unnecessary questions. What we need to do is recognise Inner Nature and work with things as they are.”
It becomes clear as you read through this book that Taoism, or The Way, is in fact the Pooh way. In Chinese it is known as Wu Wei, which literally means, ‘without doing, causing or making’. It’s like the idea of water flowing over and around the rocks in its path, not trying to grind its way through the obstacles, or carve a straight line. A famous Taoist writer, Chuang-tse tells a story of a mighty waterfall and an old man caught up in the maelstrom at the bottom of the fall. The old man is thrown about by the water and appears to be drowning but when his rescuers get there, he is climbing out onto the bank. When he is asked what secret power he has he says, “I go down with the water and come up with the water. I survive because I don’t struggle.” In the same way Pooh also does not struggle. In fact, in his own words, he doesn’t do much of anything. But things do still get done, such as the birthday pot for Eeyore, originally full of honey. This simple way of life is actually quite charming and one we can all strive for, or should that be relax into.
“If we are smart, we will choose the way of Pooh. As if from far away, it calls to us with the voice of a child’s mind. It may be hard to hear at times, but it is important just the same, because without it, we will never find our way through the forest.”
Like I said at the start, I really enjoyed this little book. It was insightful, charming and completely new for me. The concept of Taoism is complicated but this broke it down to manageable understandings which have been on my mind since. Whilst I might not embody the mindset of going with the flow or keeping calm, I will endeavour to try and be more Pooh – literally! After all, he is the epitome of Tao philosophy, unlike our other friends from the AA Milne classic.
I’ll see you next time loves for more reviews of books and places. I’ve got a couple of shows to share with you too!
See you all next time lovelies!
Big Love xxxx