The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff (1982)

HoffTaoPoohI first read this when it was relatively new; still only a hardbound and not a paperback like this one. I’m really rather surprised to see how different it seems to me now.

Of course, I have changed a lot in the interim. For one thing, I called myself a witch, or perhaps pagan priestess, at that time. Now I’m firmly an atheist, a secular humanist. Still, the book does have charm in certain ways.

One thing to remember is that this is written about characters from a children’s book which was written about 100 years ago in England. Taoism, like many other philosophies and/or religions, recommend a simple life. Well, the Quakers taught me to sing “It’s a gift to be simple, it’s a gift to be free.” Indeed, it’s also a privilege, one that many of us cannot afford. It’s all very nice to talk about not having wants and needs, but what if you’re a parent with children who have wants and needs? We can laugh at the bisy backson hurrying about and getting things done, but we slackers rely on them for our safety and comfort.

Taoism is a philosophy for the privileged. We can’t all be like Pooh, however much we might admire and even envy him. He is child-like because he was written for a child, and that is fine. And I certainly do recommend adults simplify their lives to the extent practicable. But I am not a taoist, I’m just lazy.

Statements in this review do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.