Macon Kennedy's Reviews > The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
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Mar 17, 12


The Defilement of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff is undoubtedly an interesting and alluring book with its method of introducing an Eastern sect of philosophy in a way that even children could understand the authors supposed ingenious way of incorporating the lovable childhood characters of A.A. Milne: Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and the others. Yet within the first few minutes of reading, I quickly realized that this is absolutely not the jovial bedtime reading to entertain the kids and enlighten the curious western layman. This book is an abhorrent misrepresentation of both its parties and is an insult to every thinking man or woman who reads this utterly contemptible book. Whatever ignoble purpose this former janitor turned professional tree trimmer turned bestseller author set out to illustrate, he failed spectacularly. As far as my intellect and critical thinking abilities can discern (abilities that the author admonishes and reprimands and rather blatantly lacks himself, this book is his justification for a life of lethargy and torpidity and is disturbingly rewarded for this pathetic biopic with forty-nine weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and is, most disgracingly of all, a required reading book for collegiate Eastern Philosophy 101 and Introduction to Comparative Religion courses.
Hoff opens his quaint little book with Pooh asking an innocent question about what the author is writing as Pooh "...climbs on to the writing table." As the author attempt to sate the reader's likely purpose for buying the book, to read a cute story with the famed anthropomorphic bear and is yet "sophisticated and educational." Immediately upon turning the page I begin to grow wary when Pooh explains what the book is about and utters "...without ever accumulating any amount of intellectual knowledge or losing his simpleminded sort of happiness..." Albeit suspect, I am forcibly intrigued and fly through the "simpleminded" prose that is devoid of intellectual knowledge as I was forewarned. His analysis of The Vinegar Tasters is repugnant and appallingly ignorant and Hoff demonstrates his misconstrued views that will torment even those readers with the most rudimentary knowledge of the three main Eastern Religions: Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. The bias and false assertions are blatant and discredit the author about his credibility as one knowledgeable enough to write a book teaching Eastern Philosophical concepts. The art scroll is hardly definite in its interpretation and in this case it is not even apparent to my eye on which one is Lao-tse, the happiest one. At the most intrinsic level Confucianism, is the idea that humans are teachable and able to develop and are encouraged to cultivate a personal pursuit of moral perfection and a to observe humaneness. In essence, Confucianism is perfectionism treated with religious fervor or a sort of optimistic humanism. Although according to Hoff's description, the Confuscists emphasized a "sour," pessimistic philosophy characterized by an obsessive reverence for the past and worship of their demigod Emperor who interpreted heaven's demands on their insignificant earth. He goes onto condemn the Confuscists obsessive attention for precision and accuracy. He even begins his assault on this philosophy with the opening prepositional phrase "Under Confucianism..." as if it was some oppressive archaic totalitarian fascist theocracy. His ignorance and intolerance does not stop there. His description of the Buddha is equally spiteful and even more obscene. Describing the Buddha as one whose bitter outlook on the world "...interrupted by the bitter wind of everyday existence." One must recognizes that to encapsulate the twenty five thousand year old tranquil philosophy of Siddhartha is such a deplorable calumny that a flagrant bias cannot go without being addressed. The Buddha teaches for inner truth, peace of mind and a heightened sensitivity for compassion for humanity as part of nature. The audacity of Hoff continues as he portrays the Taoist founder Lao-tse's as a man of happy serenity; whilst this may and likely be true it bodes equally true for the Confusius and Buddha as well.
Distaste for science is the hidden agenda for Hoff in his book and it lies within the beginning of the passage on page twenty-four . He is introducing Pooh to Owl in one his living metaphors. Owl is represented by Confucius and they are portrayed as the scholars whom he describes as "...busy ants spoiling the picnic of life, rushing back and forth to pick up the bits and pieces dropped from above..." In essence, scientists and their fields. He continues on and says that "...deeper and broader matters are beyond its limited reach..." His barrage of inflammatory remarks at the intellectual and academic world of scientific inquiry appear ad nauseam throughout its pages. Hoff criticizes scientists as mindless drones (or for a more savage description, I will quote directly "[an] incomplete and unbalanced creature...rather helpless and disorganized in his daily life.") who lead shallow lives with no true feeling of joy and peace. He is irrefutably wrong with this loathsome generalization as scientists and scholars are typically philosophers as their core motivation for leading these "dreary" lives is a deeply insatiable desire to understand the inner workings of our universe. Their day job may consist of the tedious workings of the "how's" but the reason they are there is for the "why's." Hoff's pseudo-Taoism is obsessed with the "is" and is dogmatic in mission to stop questioning, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Catholic church of the 17th century instead of the wisdom of Eastern thought. Hard feelings and Hoff's own insecurities are alluded to when he makes the deplorable statement on the scientific community saying they are the ones "who keep what he learns to himself or to his own small group, writing pompous and pretentious papers that no one else can understand, rather than working for the enlightenment of others." In the foreword, he briefly mentions how when he proposed his idea for the book to the much maligned scholars, they labeled it as preposterous. At this point the true reason for writing this book is discernible underneath his gibberish that the book is written solely to justify his own insecurities and to express utter contempt for the scholarly community that rejected him. Hoff's philosophy is one of lethargy and sheer laziness which he makes himself feel arrogantly and distressingly confident by labeling it under the guise of Taoism.
His filthy misguided rhetoric is continuous throughout the entire book as each Pooh character is taken down in a horrible misrepresentation. Overall, this was one of the most appalling works I have read and is an injustice to all free thinkers and an insult to true Taoists and most inexcusable of all, the defiling of the lovable Pooh
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