Admirable Artists, Bountiful Books, Wonderful Writing

Benjamin Hoff

I first encountered The Tao of Pooh around the time of its release in the 1980s. I loved the way it distilled profound insights about meaningful ways of being into messages that I could understand and take on board, through its unique structure. This book spoke to me then, and upon re-reading it speaks to me now.

A decade later Hoff followed up with The Te of Piglet. Reading it at the time of its release I didn’t get as much out of it as I had from its predecessor – I was in a different space and stage of my life. No longer was I a restless soul searching for ways to rise about negative situations, my life being more settled by then.

Fast-forward to now and once again I am in a place to garner the insightful gems that spring from these books on every page. Reflecting inwards to overcome externally-imposed obstacles, these delightful books provide a timely read. The Tao of Pooh provides just as much impact the second time around as it did the first, and The Te of Piglet much more.

The premise of these two Taoist books is a delight: the author shares his writing space with all the characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. They regularly interrupt the author’s train of thought by doing something funny, silly or curious, with which the author gets distracted. Masterfully – through gentle analyses of the characters, which is Hoff’s talent – these antics always lead towards a point the author is making, thus illustrating his approaches to life for maximum fulfilment not only with Taoist, Zen and Buddhist scrolls and stories, but also by weaving in the characteristics, approaches and activities of the Pooh characters – supplemented affectionately with original A. A. Milne text and E. H. Shepard illustrations from (the original 1920s, pre-Disney) Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. I bet I’m not the first to have not-analysed these childhood toys at all until I read Benjamin Hoff’s books!

Hoff’s offerings have been a staple on my bookshelf for decades, and will remain so for many more: I want them to be within easy reach when I am in need of enlightenment. I’m glad that they found me at their time of publication, and that I can re-read them when I’m open to spiritual growth, ready to soak up their sage wisdom again.

Thank you, Mr Benjamin Hoff!

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