Sunday Snippet: The Tao of Pooh (Benjamin Hoff)

“The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much.”

I am completely and utterly guilty of this. Just look at the logo for this blog: it’s Rodin’s Thinker (Le Penseur). Not only do I catch myself thinking too much; I get caught up in a lot of meta-thought too, thinking about thinking. And one of the simplest yet most profound lessons we can glean from Taoism is simply to allow things to happen. Don’t think about it. He may be just a “silly old bear,” but Winnie the Pooh sure seems like he has life figured out.

In The Tao of Pooh, we are offered a fairly comprehensive explanation of the philosophy of Taoism. The key difference, of course, is that it is explained to us through the perspective of A.A. Milne‘s iconic characters from the Hundred Acre Wood and their conversations with the author.

It’s easy to disregard a character like Winnie the Pooh for being simple-minded. He just wants some “hunny” and he enjoys the company of his good friends. However, unlike some of his friends, even when he seems to be concentrating extra hard on something, Pooh never over-thinks the situation and simply allows the solution to come to him.

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”

Particularly when it comes to the age of the Internet, many of us can get trapped in the pitfalls of information overload. We make life more complicated than it needs to be, forgetting to appreciate the simple joys of life. Instead, we should spend more time just being.

“While Eeyore frets… and Piglet hesitates… and Rabbit calculates… and Owl pontificates… Pooh just is.”