Three men stand over a vat of vinegar- the vinegar of life, to be precise. The first, Confucius finds life's vinegar to be sour. The second, the Buddha himself, feels life's vinegar is bitter. But the third man, Laozi, tastes the vinegar of life and finds it to be, of all things, satisfying. This famous story- and painting- of the founders of the three great Eastern philosophies, is the first thing one encounters when reading The Tao of Pooh.
In The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff presents the teachings of Laozi in a readily understandable manner, relying upon the characters of A. A. Milne's classic children's stories, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. Sometimes these characters recite their words from those classic books, and sometimes they present new ideas which cannot be found in Milne's work, but seem to be entirely consistent with what we know of them. Each character represents one or more of the ideas of Taoism, some negative things to be avoided, and some positive aspects which are the central tenets of the Tao.
While the other characters generally represent ideas which contrast the central tenets of Tao, Pooh himself is seen as representative of the Taoist philosophical foundation, and also the characteristics of wei wu wei and pu. That these characteristics sound strikingly similar to the parts of Pooh's name is but one of the whimsical aspects of this introduction to the Tao.
Benjamin Hoff was an American author, born in Oregon in 1946. A student of Asian culture, Hoff wrote the Tao of Pooh on nights and weekends while working as a tree pruner in a Japanese garden. In addition to writing, Hoff has also been a member of a pop band, and spends time as a composer and amateur nature photographer. In 2006, Hoff renounced the publishing industry and publicly resigned as an author.
Winnie-the-Pooh has a certain way about him, a way of doing things that has made him the world’s most beloved bear. In The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff shows that Pooh’s way is amazingly consistent with the principles of living envisioned by the Chinese founders of Taoism. The author’s explanation of Taoism through Pooh, and Pooh through Taoism, shows that this is not simply an ancient and remote philosophy but something you can use, here and now.
And what is Taoism? It’s really very simple. It calls for living without preconceived ideas about how life should be lived—but it’s not a preconception of how life—it’s…. well, you’d do better to listen to this book, and listen to Pooh, if you really want to find out. Download and start listening now!