Other Books

The Tao of Pooh

Hoff, Benjamin - Finished Sep 30, 2016

Run-on Sentence Summary

Some guy in Oregon attempts to explain the philosophy of Taoism through Winnie The Pooh.


After reading the Tao Te Ching, I was amused by the premise of this book and thought it might make a good companion. This is written by an American for a western audience, and I was pleased to find it more accessible than the source, which at times felt moralizing and arcane even with the interpretations.

The author uses Pooh’s relaxed, joyful, simpleton behavior to describe court Taoist ideas, such as u Wei, which literally means “without doing, causing or making.” The calligraphy for this word is a combination of the symbols of a clawed hand and a monkey, to be interpreted as no clever tampering, or no monkeying around. By the way, I understand that our phonetic alphabet is arguably superior because it is so much easier to learn, but how cool would it be if every symbol in our language could be so rich in allegorical meaning? The depth of Chinese culture boggles me.

Anyway, the book topples old villains like pride and materialism, but also gives a fresh perspective on some undisputed puritan virtues, such as ambition, productivity and scholarship. I’d recommend it to anyone, especially if you’ve felt stressed out lately.

Final Thoughts

He’s written a companion book, The Te of Piglet, but sadly it seems like it won’t be nearly as good based on the reviews.

Favorite Quote

“The honey doesn’t taste so good once it is being eaten; the goal doesn’t mean so much once it is reached; the reward is no so rewarding once it has been given. If we add up all the rewards in our lives, we won’t have very much. But if we add up the spaces between the rewards, we’ll come up with quite a bit. And if we add up the rewards and the spaces, then we’ll have everything - every minute of the time that we spent.”