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The Tao of Pooh

Book Thoughts is a series where I write about things books make me think about. Simple as that. Not exactly summaries. Not exactly reviews. Just thoughts that occasionally veer away from the books.


After reading the Way of Zen, I moved onto a book that’s been on my list for a while: Surely You Must be Joking Mr. Feynman.

But it didn’t feel right. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but I had just journeyed through such a meditative read that seemed to reshape my soul’s alignment in some subtle way (to be dramatic about it), and switching topics so hastily felt like removing braces after just a day or two of wearing them.

What use is that?

I had hoped to cover a wide range of topics in this little Book Thoughts series, and the second guesser in me was chattering loudly when I pulled another book about Taoism from the bookshelf. But this is what felt right, so why force something for the sake of a plan? This is precisely the problem with book lists in the first place. You get ahead of that ever-changing curiosity of yours. If it settles on a single subject for a few days, weeks, or even months, just go with it.

I was itching for some more zen, which is a tad counter to zen in itself (i.e. the “itching” part), but I’m pretty new to this journey and giving myself a noob pass.

I pulled up a list of Taoism books on GoodReads.

718 were listed.

Oh the irony of feeling stressed about all the Tao and zen books I desired to read (dropping desire altogether seems to be a pretty integral part to this zen stuff).

I grabbed a short one that had been recommended by a few people: The Tao of Pooh.

An audiobook version made it even easier to throw on some zenfulness on my way to work, and it was less than three hours long.

That’s one of the things about aiming to read X number of books in a given year and all these guys who claim to read a book a day. Sure it’s doable, but books come in all shapes and sizes. The number you read in a given year doesn’t say much.

Then again, I’ve gotta admit, it does give me some feeing of accomplishment to finish a book, whether it’s 100 pages or 1000 pages. Perhaps that’s something I’ll undo as I learn more of the zen and Taoist ways.

So, putting the braces back on. Here are a few points that are popping out in this Tao of Pooh book:

Each character in Winnie the Pooh apparently represents another way people are out of sync with the Tao way. That is, except Pooh. So, tldr: be like Pooh.

Tao of Pooh charactes; source: http://rebrn.com/

Tao of Pooh charactes; source: http://rebrn.com/

Here’s what makes Pooh, “the most effortless bear we’ve ever seen”:

“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.”

Life is often more stressful than it needs to be because we fight the natural flow of things. When you find the right path for you, the right way of living, it will feel more natural than ever.

“When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress. No struggle …Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.”

And finally, a good reminder for all you over-thinkers out there:

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

Ah what a comforting thought that last one is. We can all stop trying so hard. In fact, I feel pretty good about where whole thing stands and we’ll leave it at that.

Zen is great.

Love always from Planet Earth,

Doug