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The Tao of Pooh
by Benjamin Hoff and Ernest H. Shepard


Benjamin Hoff's beloved classic, The Tao of Pooh, uses the beloved characters and stories of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh to illuminate the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism.

Central Theme: The book argues that Pooh Bear, in his simple and instinctive way, embodies the principles of Taoism, specifically the concept of "Wu Wei" (effortless action). It contrasts Pooh's natural wisdom with the overthinking and striving of characters like Owl and Rabbit, demonstrating how embracing simplicity and going with the flow leads to greater happiness and effectiveness.

Key Concepts Explored:

  • Wu Wei (Effortless Action): This core Taoist principle emphasizes achieving goals through natural effortlessness, like a river carving a path through a mountain. Pooh's intuitive actions, often driven by his love for honey, exemplify this concept, contrasting with Rabbit's meticulous plans that often go awry.
  • The Uncarved Block (Pu): This concept represents the state of pure potential that exists before we impose our desires and judgments. Pooh, in his simplicity, embodies this state, while other characters become bogged down by their complex thoughts and desires.
  • The Importance of the Present Moment: The book stresses the Taoist emphasis on living fully in the now. Pooh's enjoyment of simple pleasures like honey and the company of his friends highlights this principle.
  • Acceptance and Letting Go: Through Pooh's experiences, the book encourages acceptance of life's ups and downs and emphasizes the futility of resisting the natural order of things.
  • Finding Happiness in Simplicity: The book argues that true happiness doesn't lie in material possessions or complex pursuits but in appreciating the simple joys of life, much like Pooh's love for honey and companionship.

Structure and Style:

The book uses a conversational style, interweaving excerpts from Milne's stories with Hoff's insightful commentary. By drawing parallels between Pooh's actions and Taoist teachings, Hoff makes complex philosophical ideas accessible and relatable.

Impact and Legacy:

  • The Tao of Pooh has become a modern spiritual classic, introducing millions to the wisdom of Taoism through the charm of Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • The book encourages readers to embrace simplicity, find joy in the present moment, and approach life with a sense of gentle acceptance, much like Pooh Bear.


The Tao of Pooh is a delightful and insightful read that combines the beloved characters of Winnie-the-Pooh with the profound wisdom of Taoism. It offers a unique and accessible approach to understanding ancient philosophy and finding happiness in everyday life.