THE TAO OF POOH by Benjamin Hoff


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A cutesy-Pooh popularization of Taoism that aims to make it digestible but quickly turns it into pablum. Heft mingles quotations from the A. A. Milne books, new Pooh conversations of his own devising, and mini-lessons in Taoism that oversimplify the subject and make it sound like just another brand of American-style therapy or, worse, a soft, furry cop-out. Even when Heft starts with Taoist basics, he translates them into the language of Norman Vincent Peale; it turns out, for instance, that the major corollary of the ""uncarved block"" principle (radical simplicity and freedom from longing) is ""Life Is Fun."" Follow the Pooh Way, Hoff proclaims: ""Nothing to it. No stress, no mess. . . . The easiest way to get rid of a Minus is to change it into a Plus,"" etc. Time and again the Pooh story is dragged in by the ears, whether or not it fits the context: ""Cottleston Pie"" means ""Inner Nature""; we all have a Rabbit, an Owl, and an Eeyore within us; and so forth. Heft laughs at Buddhism without explaining Taoism's response to the sorrows of life, mocks Confucianism without explaining what the Taoist does for social ethics, and slides over the ""embarrassing"" aspects of Taoism (belief in gods, immortality, thoroughgoing quietism). Painless to read, but not to be trusted.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1982
ISBN: 0525244581
Publisher: Dutton