“While Eeyore frets and Piglet hesitates and Rabbit calculates and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is,” writes Benjamin Hoff in his book The Tao of Pooh. Although he is a self-professed “bear of little brain,” his simplistic approach to life, effortless calm, and ability to stay in the present have a great deal to teach us.
Unlike Rabbit or Owl, Pooh relies on his innate bear sense to guide him…to find honey, to find his way home, to know what to do next, etc. It often seems as though Pooh does not have a clue, and has no choice but to rely on his gut instincts because of his obvious lack of higher intelligence. This turns out to almost always be a good thing for him. Like Pooh, we all could benefit by learning to trust and listen to that compelling voice and knowing within us instead of relying on reason, intelligence, and the “shoulds.” Hoff writes:
A brain can do all kinds of things, but the things it can do are not the most important things. Abstract cleverness of mind only separates the thinker from the world of reality, and that world, the Forest of real life, is in a desperate condition now because of too many who think too much and care too little.
This “abstract cleverness of mind” he refers to is the logical, strategic, left brain thinking we have come to teach and value so much as a society. As in Winnie the Pooh’s example, we are going to have to develop our ability to intuit – to think in more creative, connected, global terms. Sounds pretty complex for a simple bear, but it is really just relaxing and not thinking too much, like Pooh. It is letting the heart brain and the mind join to yield wisdom and heeding that inner wisdom – not intellect and logic.
To have an empty mind and to just be here now is actually quite difficult for most of us. To quiet the constant mental chatter and recognize the stories and projections through which we view the world, is an acquired skill. Pooh makes it look easy. This is the state of awareness taught and heightened in meditation and mindfulness practices. Hoff explains:
The empty sort of mind is valuable for finding pearls and tails (Eeyore’s) and things because it can see what is in front of it. An overstuffed mind is unable to. While the clear mind listens to the bird singing, the Stuffed-Full-of-Knowledge-and-Cleverness mind wonders what kind of bird is singing. The more Stuffed-Up it is, the less it can hear through its own ears and see through its own eyes.
He goes on to say:
Within each of us there is an Owl, a Rabbit, an Eeyore and a Pooh. For too long, we have chosen the way of Owl and Rabbit. Now, like Eeyore, we complain about all the results. But that accomplishes nothing. If we are smart, we will choose the way of Pooh. As if from far away, it calls to us with the voice of a child’s mind. It may be hard to hear at times, but it is important just the same, because without it, we will never find our way through the Forest.
image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lemuelinchrist/