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National Winnie-the-Pooh day – Thursday 18th January

Today is National Winnie-the-Pooh Day, which celebrates A A Milne’s birthday on 18th January, 1882.

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Most of us know the Winnie-the Pooh books, either from having them read to us as children or reading them to our children.  We know that the stories were originally created in 1928 by A A Milne for his son, Christopher Robin, and featured his toys as they played in Hundred Acre Wood.

There is, however, a different interpretation of the stories, which you may not know about.

The Tao of Pooh was written by Benjamin Hoff in 1982.  In this book, Hoff introduces readers to the theory of Taoism, as described in The Tao Te Ching, by relating the concepts back to the fictional inhabitants of Hundred Acre Wood.  Hoff uses conversations between Pooh and his friends to illustrate ‘The Way’ in a light-hearted way.

The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese philosophical and moral text usually attributed to Lao-Tzu.  It describes living a harmonious life in tune with nature, humanity and the Universe, otherwise known as ‘The Way’.  Basically, Taoism is the path to living a sustainable and simple living.

 

The Uncarved Block

Pooh is the embodiment of the ‘Uncarved Block’, in which he has no arrogance, emotional complexities or qualities that take away from his simplicity.  Pooh typifies the Tao view that life should be fun and spontaneous and, when lived this way, tends to turn out just right. 

 

Inner Nature vs Cleverness

Everything has its own place and function including people.  One of Pooh’s songs, ‘Cottleston Pie’ points this out with the line, “A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly”.  So many of us are stuck in the wrong job doing things we don’t enjoy and keep trying to change our reality instead of respecting our inner nature.  Once we acknowledge this, we can work within our limitations instead of them getting in our way.  Through this, our limitations can be our strengths, we know where we belong and also where we don’t belong.

Owl, Rabbit and Eeyore represent different sides to cleverness.  Owl studies for the sake of appearing wise and doesn’t like sharing his knowledge even when it would help the group as a whole.  Owl over-thinks everything and stays stuck in a disorganized and impractical manner.  Owl doesn’t experience events so much as read and think about them and, in Taoism, knowledge learnt through experience is much more meaningful.

Much like Owl, Rabbit likes to be seen to be clever.  He is always the first to suggest complex solutions to problems which rarely work out.  Rabbit represents that cleverness and wisdom are different things and he cannot see that the things he doesn’t know are just as important as the things he does.  Cleverness can be wisdom without enlightenment, insight or humility.

Eeyore like to use his knowledge to complain about everything.  He is so focussed on what is wrong, he misses out on spontaneous enjoyment.  Eeyore’s attitude gets in the way of happiness and wisdom and he doesn’t recognise opportunities when they are given to him.

The Pooh Way

The Pooh Way, as Hoff calls Wu Wei, is the concept of ‘without, doing, causing or making’. As the Tao Te Ching says, Tao does not do, but nothing is left undone’.  In other words, letting things happen in their own way, flowing naturally without stress or struggle.  Things just get done!

Tigger and Piglet represent the opposite sides of this theory.  Tigger rushes into things without thinking about whether he can do it, ‘Tiggers can do everything’.  He is constantly trying to do things he can’t and this often gets him into trouble.  He is the epitome of fitting a ‘square peg in a round hole’.

Piglet, on the other hand, is well aware of his limitations.  Even though he may seem timid, Piglet usually turns out to be the bravest of the group and shows great confidence when it’s needed.  He is a good example of knowing ourselves well and listening to our Inner Self.

The Tiddely-Pom Principle (The Snowball Effect)

Another one of Pooh’s songs, Tiddely-Pom says, “The more it snows, the more it goes.”  In other words, push a snowball down the hill and it will get bigger.  The more you think about something, good or bad, the bigger it grows.  As Hoff says, “Do you want to be happy?  You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got?  Do you want to be really miserable?  You can begin by being discontented.”  The Tiddely-Pom Principle is a great reminder that whatever we focus on, good or bad, grows and expands.  Lao-Tzu wrote “A tree as big around as you can reach starts with a small seed; a thousand-mile journey starts with one step”.  Choose your thoughts wisely.

 

Successful people are not necessarily the smartest or quickest but they tend to be in tune to what’s going on around them.  They are likely to follow the latest trends and take advantage of them by being in the right place at the right time. 

Do what you are good at, what you love doing and eventually you’ll build momentum and clients will begin to take notice.

 

 

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