Monday, January 22, 2007

In Which Pooh Bear Becomes a Taoist

I received a copy of The Tao of Pooh this year as a Christmas gift from a friend. This is one of those little books I considered picking up in the 1990s, when it was all the rage and I was in graduate school in hippy dippy, Buddhisty, tai chi, Tao heaven--Berkeley. For some inexplicable reason, I never did. Having received it as a gift, however, I decided it was high time I read about Winnie the Pooh and Taoism. It's a quick, easy read. I read it over a day and a half (which is good for me. It can sometimes take me weeks to read a book because I don't dedicate extended chunks of time to it. I read in dribs and drabs. Sidenote: why does that phrase always sound obscene? Anyway...)

At a mere 158 pages, Benjamin Hoff, a self-confessed Taoist, uses A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and His Friends to explain the age-old principles of Taoism. "While Eeyore frets... and Piglet hesitates... and Rabbit calculates... and Owl pontificates... Pooh just is," reads the dust cover. The point of Taoism is learn to live in harmony with the earth, the heavens, and all that we encounter in life. I suppose for the western mind, teaching Taoism requires a metaphor or a symbol that we can understand and relate to. In this sense, Hoff's book is rather Taoist in its approach to teaching.

Perhaps the book didn't resonate that deeply with me because I experienced some of its precepts of living in the present through a course I took in grad school--Spirituality in World Religions. I've had a taste of Taoism and it is indeed sweet. If you've wondered about or tried to grasp the principles of Lao-Tsu, this is a good book to start that "journey of a thousand miles" which always "begins with one step."

Out of five stars, I'll give this one a three and a half for its simple format and metaphors.

6 comments:

Kimberly said...

I've been reading the best book, "The Anatomy of Peace" from the Arbinger Institute. You can go online to their website, which is great, and order the book, or you can go to amazon.com (cheaper) or your local bookstore I'm sure. It will be my lifelong companion. I will be reading the sequel "Leadership and Self-Deception" when I'm finished. I have truly learned a lot from this book.

Casey Kochmer said...

I would be curious to see how many stars you would give to A Personal Tao. A newer book about Taoism which is online and free.

:)

as a PS I don't miss rush hour in DC. But here is a poem I wrote while sitting in the middle of the street watching the rush of people in DC one day: Rush Hour.

As a side note. The particular web blog template you and I both picked, seems to be favored by Taoists for some odd reason. I know quite a few Taoists who have picked this template. Kinda of fun actually.

Peace.

JMK said...

Kimberly: I'll have to check it out.

Casey: Welcome. I'll check out A Personal Tao and see how it stacks up. Thanks for the link. As for your poem: excellent and precise!

Casey Kochmer said...

:) since you are in DC I thought you would enjoy the poem catching the rushing people of DC one afternoon.

too many stories of sad shadows and people passing away for me to remember off those streets...

JMK said...

Casey: Isn't that the truth. I can't tell you how draining and depleting this city is. My goal is to be out of here within the next three to six months. I'm tired of feeling deflated and defeated all the time and I'm tired of the mind games and politics. I've had enough.

There's truly something to be said for quality of life and it sure as hell ain't here.

Casey Kochmer said...

DC is a interesting place. I love it as a home, but now only visit occasionally.

Quality of life matters, and being true to oneself even more so. IN DC where politics is king, not much is true.

Best of luck and peace in your travels :)