The Tao of Pooh

Not to be completely philosophical here, but I wanted to share some things that I found interesting from a book called The Tao of Pooh.  I read this book when i took a class on Eastern Religion a few years ago, but I recently picked it back up to be reminded of how to “just be.”  As the book says…While Eeyore frets…and Piglet hesitates…and Rabbit calculates…and Owl pontificates…Pooh just is.

Just a few excerpts from the book for you to ponder:

* …Through working in harmony with life’s circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may perceive as negative into something positive.  From the Taoist point of view, sourness and bitterness come from the interfering and unappreciative mind.  Life itself, when understood and utilized for what it is, is sweet.

* …One rather annoying thing about scholars is that they are always using big words that some of us can’t understand.

“Well,” said Owl, “the customary procedure in such cases is as follows.”

“What does crustimoney Proceedcake mean?” said pooh.  “For I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.”

“It means the thing to do.”

“As long as it means that, I don’t mind,” said Pooh humbly.

…and one sometimes gets the impression that those intimidating words are there to keep us from understanding.  That way, the scholars can appear superior, and will not likely be suspected of not knowing something.  After all, from the scholarly point of view, it’s practically a crime not to know everything.

But sometimes the knowledge of the scholar is a bit hard to understand because it doesn’t seem to match up with our own experience of things.  In other words, knowledge and experience do not necessarily speak the same language.  But isn’t knowledge that comes with experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn’t?

* …Everything has it’s own place and function.  That applies to people, although many don’t seem to realize it, stuck as they are in the wrong job, the wrong marriage or the wrong house.  When you know and respect your own “inner nature,” you know where you belong.  You also know where you don’t belong.  One man’s food is often another man’s poison, and what is glamorous and exciting can be a dangerous trap to others.

* …As we have likely recognized by now, no two snowflakes, trees, or animals are alike. no two people are the same, either. Everything has its own Inner Nature. Unlike other forms of life, though, people are easily led away from whats right for them, because people have Brain, and brain can be fooled. Inner nature, when relied on, cannot be fooled. But many people do not look at it or listen to it, and consequently do not understand themselves very much. Having little understanding of themselves, they have little respect for themselves, and are therefore easily influenced by others.

But, rather than be carried along by circumstances and manipulated by those who can see the weaknesses and behavior tendencies that we ignore, we can work with our own characteristics and be in control of our own lives. The Way of Self-Reliance starts with recognizing who we are, what we’ve got to work with, what works best for us.”

* Sooner or later, we are bound to discover some things about ourselves that we don’t like.  But once we see they’re there, we can decide what we want to do with them.  Do we want to get rid of them completely, change them into other things, or use them in beneficial ways?  …Rather than work against ourselves, all we need to do in many cases is to point our weaknesses or unpleasant tendencies in a different direction than we have been.

* There are things about ourselves that we need to get rid of; there are things that we need to change.  But, at the same time, we do not need to be too desperate, too ruthless, too combative.  Along the way to usefulness and happiness, many of those things will change themselves, and the other things can be worked on as we go. The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own inner nature and do not lose sight of it.

* 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.  Egotistical desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole, and the square peg into the round hole.  Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong.  Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit into round holes, but not square holes.  Wu Wei doesn’t try.  It doesn’t think about it.  It just does it.  And when it does it, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything.  But things get done.

* But down through the centuries, man has developed a mind that separates him from the world of reality, the world of natural laws. This mind tries too hard, wears itself out, and ends up weak and sloppy. Such a mind, even if of high intelligence, is inefficient. It goes here and there, backwards and forwards, and fails to concentrate on what it’s doing at the moment. It drives down the street in a fast-moving car and thinks it’s at the store, going over a grocery list. Then it wonders why accidents occur. When you work with Wu Wei, you have no real accidents. Things may get a little Odd at times, but they work out. You don’t have to try very hard to make them work out; you just let them.”

* …Saving time is very simple.  You can’t save time.  You can only spend it.  But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.  The “Busy, back soon” has practically no time at all because he’s too busy wasting it by trying to save it.  And by trying to save every bit of it, he ends up wasting the whole thing.  Henry David Thoreau put it this way, in Walden.

Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?  We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.  Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today and save nine tomorrow.

* …The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about and opening them. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we’re off to reach the next one. That doesn’t mean that the goals we have don’t count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process, and it’s the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from that, it’s really the process that’s important. Enjoyment of the process is the secret that erases the myths of Great Reward and Saving Time. By enjoying the process, we can stretch that awareness out so that it’s no longer only a moment, but covers the whole thing.

The Stonecutter

There was once a stonecutter, who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house, and through the open gateway, saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it — a huge, towering stone. “How powerful that stone is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a stone!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a stone!”

Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock, and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter.

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