Book Review: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
A spiritual journey is assumed to be large undertaking, possibly involving a shaved head and extended periods of silent meditation. In his 1982 book The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff explains to the contrary that a spiritual path can be traveled even in our most mundane daily activities. If you seek a way to change your outlook, this book is great place to start. It is also an organic meeting of Eastern and Western philosophies, perfect for someone hoping to understand the foundations of both.
The Tao Te Ching is an ancient text written by Laozi describing Tao principles or “the way”. The concept is shared with Buddhism and Confucianism and its basic principles are found throughout Eastern philosophy. Laozi explains, “Tao is not a ‘name’ for a ‘thing’ and that its ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe.” This concept can be difficult to grasp, and that is where The Tao of Pooh comes in handy. The book begins by describing Taoism as the law that governs a universal law that affects everything from the spinning planets to the fish in the sea. The book helps you understand that these principles, while difficult to describe, are easily recognizable.
The Tao of Pooh is written with a narrator explaining the basic principles of the Tao to Winnie the Pooh. The book cites excepts from the A.A. Milne children’s book Winnie the Pooh, making it a book within a book. Hoff uses Pooh as an example of someone who practices Taoism (often without trying). Pooh has the qualities of P’u or “an uncarved block”. This means Pooh has discarded arrogance and complexity and embraced a simple and childlike vulnerability. From that comes the ability to enjoy the quiet and the plain and allows for spontaneity.
The rest of the characters from 100 Acre Woods appear in The Tao of Pooh to illustrate other personality types experiencing difficulty with the Taoist principles. Whether it is Eeyore gaining knowledge in order complain or Owl using knowledge to appear wise, it is easy for the reader to identify with these roles and the pitfalls that often accompany them.
This book reads effortlessly while still being profound with a clear message. Fretting will not change the outcome of a situation; it will only cause you miss the beauty that surrounds you in every waking moment. Pick up a copy of The Tao of Pooh to hear one interpretation of this classic children story or a copy of a Winnie the Pooh to find your own.
Hoff grew up in a rural area outside Portland, Oregon. He spent his time outdoors observing animals, insects and plants, and loved to write. His follow up book is The Te of Piglet.
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
Publisher: E.P. Dutton