289 of 306 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites
I was introduced to this book a couple of years ago - had seen it on the shelf of the bookstore for years, thought about buying it and never did... and then I received it as a gift.
Without question, it's one of the best books I've read. It's not for its literary flow, academic presentation, entertaining style, or subject matter that I love this little book. I...
Published on June 28, 2000 by Caz
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, but too critical
Overall, "The Tao of Pooh" is a good introduction to Taoism, and some of its chapters are extremely well-written. I was disappointed, however, when the book began heavily criticizing other philosophies, specifically those personified by Rabbit, Eeyore, and Owl. I don't see Taoism as being that intolerant, or unable to see the wisdom and logic of other theories...
Published on June 3, 2002
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding,
First I have to address the 1 star reviews... were you reading the same book? How did you get all this negitivity from a simple book? Hoff isn't knocking anyone, if you read the book there's a whole section dedicated to the feeling that everyone has a place in life. The "Owls" The "Tiggers" The "Rabbits" ect... he's not saying that these are bad qualities just that too much "Rabbit" or too much "Eeyore" can be bad. It seems to me the people who gave this book a one star are exactly the people who this author is trying to get across too, it's your own pre judgements that don't allow you to enjoy this book.
That being said this is a wonderful book, I've always been a huge Pooh fan and I've always used these characters to discribe people. Everyone knows a "Eeyore" and a "Owl" and so on, and in some regards everyone has a "Piglet" part of them or a "Tigger" That's all this book is saying, the sooner you realize it the better. Hoff isn't saying if your a "Owl" change because you won't ever be happy. He's saying the sooner you know who you are and accept you for you, the happier you'll be. The sooner you can "Let go" of the things that we all get wrapped up in, the happier you'll be. It's a shame when people can't see that.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fleeting Wisdom,
I've read this book a couple of times and I always enjoy it. I think it provides a good introduction to Taoist philosophy (I haven't read much other Taoist philosophy so take that for what it's worth). I like how bits of Winnie-the-Pooh are used to provide examples and illustrate abstract concepts. I agree with many of the basic ideas of the book. But reading it always leaves me vaguely unsatisfied. While much of what the author says makes sense, it isn't easy to apply it to daily life. I would describe two of the main axioms of the book as "go with the flow" and "be true to yourself." These are both sound pieces of advice but what do they really mean? What am I supposed to do with that? When I read the book I find myself nodding and agreeing but as soon as I put it down the words kind of evaporate. There just isn't enough substance to apply it to my life. Or maybe I just haven't figured out how to do it yet. Nobody said it was easy.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unfortunate misunderstanding.,
Mr. Hoff, in quoting "The Vinegar Tasters", may have misunderstood Buddhism. As a Buddhist, with some experience, I have never looked at the Universe as a 'setter of traps' nor am I embittered by life on earth. Just saddened. More likely, we are the generators of illusion and are working out our karma. Buddhism is more in accord with finding the lessons of our lives in our karma and taking responsibility. We do not turn away from the 'dust of the world'. We wipe it from our eyes.
Other than the above, I find joyful calm in its reading.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pooh for Grown-Ups,
Everyone I know loved pooh as a kid. He was ever-happy, ever-satisfied, and ever-peaceful. With the exception of the occasional honey-related fiasco, he seemed to know a thing or two about living. However, as we get older, watching and reading about Pooh and his friends becomes frustrating. Why is your life so simple, Pooh? This world we live in is so hectic, and if we don't periodically step back and breathe, we begin to think that this is how life is supposed to be. When people tell me to relax, or not worry, or spout off clichés like "whatever happens will happen", I can tend to get really mad. How dare you say that?!? Do you know everything I have to get done today? What I usually don't realize, and what they may not realize, is that they are really preaching some of the ancient and wise tenets of Taoism. What I'm really looking for, I suppose, is the formula for a good life. Like most people, I spend a lot of my time trying to find it in work, possessions, getting into college, what have you... But as Pooh teaches through The Tao of Pooh, happiness and contentment lie right in front of me.
The Tao of Pooh approaches the wisdom and (sometimes) backwards philosophy involved in Taoism using understandable scenarios involving Pooh and his pals in the hundred acre wood. For example, Pooh and his friends wander around the forest looking for his home but keep arriving at the same sinkhole, and not his house. He then decides that if they look for the sinkhole, they will surely arrive at his house. This story was meant to show the futility of seeking something out, because what is meant to come to you will.
Each character in The Tao of Pooh represents a frame of mind addressed in Taoism. Eeyore is supposed to characterize giving up, and giving in to suffering and misfortune. From what I've read about the book, this is a poke at Buddhism's "life is suffering." The rabbit and the owl represent the over-intellectuals. Owl seeks out knowledge for the sake of knowledge, of being able to look wise. While they seek to analyze and comprehend everything they do and see, they show the supposed flaws of the rigid analysis and thought process preached in Confucianism. I think the point of their characters is that we're not supposed to understand everything, so we shouldn't try. Although wise, his wisdom extends only to his mind and not to his heart where it counts. In contrast to these characters, Pooh has a rich heart and a life of happiness, because he takes the good with the bad, doesn't struggle to grasp every confusing aspect of life, and knows that above all "life is good".
There is nothing in this book that we've never heard before. However, they're all things that, as people tied to a clock and a palm pilot, we quickly brush off if they're not well stated. The thing that makes this book rather incredible is the way it drives the ideas home using a character we are all comfortable with. The anecdotes in this book are captivating and very effective at showing us the things that make life worth living. This world would be a much better place to live in if everyone followed Pooh's lead - just slowed down and realized how great life truly is.
55 of 70 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why the Negativity??,
I was searching for a basic introduction to Tao, and being a Pooh lover from way back thought that this would be a good place to start. While I learned some of what I was searching for - the focus on nature and simplicity - there was a recurring tone of negativity that bothered me to the point that I couldn't enjoy the book. What troubled me is this: Hoff repeatedly illustrates the virtues of his chosen philosophy/religion by denigrating other religions.
I'm not much of a fan of "organized religion", so the thought of criticizing other religions doesn't upset me per se: it's just that I find no place for it in a book like this. This should be about the uplifting, enlightening spiritual values of Tao. The recurring stabs at what he obviously views as competing philosophies struck a very discordant tone. I couldn't get past this to enjoy the educational elements of the book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very clever,
This review is from: The Tao of Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh) (Hardcover)
Benjamin Hoff's job comparing the lovable characters of the One Hundred Acre Woods to Taoism may be a stretch to some, but I found it delightful and very helpful. First of all, I taught Ancient History including the great world religions to sixth graders (roughly 11-12 year olds). I took some examples from the book and its theme and integrated them into my teaching on China and Taoism. The concepts in many of the great eastern religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, etc. can be hard for many in the West to grasp, not to mention adolescents just being introduced to them. The comparisons in this book really allowed my students to absorb the overall theme of Taoism.
The two comparisons I love that Hoff gives:
1) How the Taoist tastes vinegar and unlike the rest, enjoys it because he realizes that everything in life is not sweet (Balance).
2) I also taught a character education class and this theme was particularly helpful: you should seek to live everyday of your life like you are about to open a present. That anticipation and excitement should be driving forces in your life. No matter how bad your day/ week/ month is there should always be a "present" to look forward to on your calendar. And when that event is over, there should be something else to keep in your mind; a new, exciting anticipation. It is a never ending cycle.
You don't have to be a Taoist to appreciate this book.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm being GENEROUS with 3 stars....,
I like what I read or I hate it. Simple as that. Well, This book was annoying in several ways, yet my affection for Winnie The Pooh bouyed my rating of the book, and my interest in Eastern philosophy. I was apalled by Hoff's constant bashing at "intellectuals" and veiled ranting. I was also annoyed at Hoff's bashing of other faiths as essentially being "Wrong". A true Taoist wouldn't beat someone over the head about how "wrong" their Way is because it happens to be structured and staid. That may just be the natural-flowing Way for them. It's a so-so introduction to Taoism, so I'd recommend Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts and a nice translation of the Tao Te Ching. Put the two together and you'll grok it better than Hoff ever will.
Then Again, you can read Hoff's books with an open mind....and as a preacher I once knew said "Eat the meat, and leave the bones".
109 of 144 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Somebody Has to Bash this Book...,
Somebody has to bash this book and I guess it's going to be me. Now get this straight before I saw anything: I like Pooh and I like Taoism. I don't attack the subject matter of this book. However, I attack the style, misrepresentation of religions (other than Taoism), and the misrepresentation of Pooh in this book.
Although I can see this book was intended for young adults, I find the style condescending, as if Hoff thinks he's speaking to the uneducated masses waiting for enlightenment. There is definitely the feel of being taught by a teacher in elementary school as one reads this book. Furthermore, while some might find the childishness of Hoff "delightful", I found it nothing of the sort. I thought the book was boring and tedious. I don't know why people enjoy this book when there are real philosophy books out there, like the wonderful "Zen and Art of Motorcyle Maintenence".
Most disturbing about this book was its misrepresentation of other religions and its general condemnation of non-Taoist thought. For a young-adults book, I've never seen pages so loaded with mind-narrowing prejudice! His treatment of Buddhism and Confucianism are ludicrous and disturbingly inaccurate. I'll leave it to the reader to find the obvious discrepencies between Hoff's imaginary philosophies and the real philosophies he attempts to describe. Further, I've never felt so insulted by a book as this; his virtually says that all scholars are fools. Does everyone passively accept that being enlightened requires ignorance? I sure as heck don't!
Finally, Pooh was the unfortunate mascot Hoff manipulated to give credibility to his views. Hoff would ask a question to Pooh and Pooh would respond by condemning certain schools of thought. The real Pooh would never do that! Pooh is a simple and non-offensive character who gets along with the world because of both of these qualities. In short, I was morally offended by this book many consider to be a classic, and I think Hoff should have learned some lessons from childrens' books with good messages before he wrote this loaded polemic.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but annoying,
This is a good introduction to Taoism, and describes many aspects of Taoist philosophy very well. My major problem with this book was the arrogant, very non-Taoist attitude taken by the author in his writing. He seems quite proud to be imparting his knowledge upon the ungifted masses. If you can get past that, you will find it an interesting, worthwhile book. For a better introduction, try Eva Wong's translation of The Seven Taoist Masters.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half and Half,
One could really take this book as a mixed bag of lessons. In a way, Hoff completely accidentally sets himself up as the ideal example of the opposite of a Taoist viewpoint. His portrayals of Winnie the Pooh as a simple, loving, accepting and calm creature are fairly on the mark. Though a tad simplistic, Pooh is accurately depicted as following several key Taoist virtues that are quite fundemental to such philosophy. At the same time, however, Hoff seems to scream for attention to his "higher learning" and aesceticism. Seeming to view himself a some type of guru on the subject, he makes a few jabs at Western learning in a painfully typical knee-jerk counterculturism manner. Many authors and artists in the past have attempted to seem profound simply by lashing out at anything conventional. After all, counterintuitive means profound, right? Unfortunately, no. In his rather selfrighteous, condemning, and finger-pointing manner, Hoff inadvertently deepens the lessons of the book. In his pretension, he deepens the contrast of the tranquil and nonjudgemental Pooh, setting him up as all the more admirable and showing just what sort of "more enlightened and at peace than thou" thinking this peaceful way of life stands against.
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The Tao of Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh) by Benjamin Hoff (Hardcover - April 30, 1982)