Pooh (and other Great Philosophers)

Winnie The PoohRegular readers will know, I’m a big fan of the world according to Pooh, and other such great philosophers. In the spirit of self-help and mutual-aid, we can (and do) learn a lot about life and the crap that circulates around our minds, by listening to the thoughts and experiences of others.

Many of us spend time searching our minds (and elsewhere) for The meaning of life, we crave the answer to that often elusive question: “What is the meaning of life?” This particular hypothesis has been examined by every religious teaching known to man, and been the hot topic of teaching from many secular philosophers, probably since the dawn of time.

But, constantly searching for our personal meaning of life can also be a route cause of many of our problematic behaviours. We feel lost, we don’t appear to have purpose, we are experiencing a disconnect from other humans or suffering in a particular set of events or circumstances. Often we can think our way out of the less than pleasurable situations… when we choose to think about things in a different way.

The Ancient Greeks along with various East-Asian belief systems like Taoism, Buddhism, all tend to look at life with some simple realism. Often in a way that is alien to the followers of some of the more common religion based teachings. But don’t worry, having a reasonable understanding of these beliefs, perhaps even valuing some of their more logical teachings, hasn’t turned me away from my inherent secular thinking – or created and framed some new-age zealot – far from it.

I still have an open mind, free from the dogma espoused by others. That said and today, many of us have a tendency towards dogmatic beliefs around all manner of topics. We think in binary structures, we follow tropes that tend to overshadow and loose sight of the basics that actually underpin many ‘mainstream’ belief systems.

OK, many will suggest that life is far more complicated than it was then, perhaps that is the case, and in so many respects however; the human race has created many of those complications and too often, these complications are driven by unrealistic expectations.

The words of Confucius are just as true today as they were many centuries ago  – “Life is really simple, but we [humans] insist on making it complicated.”

If we all tried to think more like – When We Were Very Young – i.e. a little more simply than we do now and then just perhaps, we wouldn’t all be getting so stressed out about events, other people and (often unimportant) situations?

Combining the benefits of a ‘childlike’ outlook on life with some ancient philosophy, The Tao of Pooh is a book written by Benjamin Hoff. It provides an introduction to the Eastern belief system of Taoism for Westerners. Allegorically employing the fictional characters of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh with stories, it seeks to explain the basic principles of philosophical Taoism (read more at Wikipedia).

A well-known concept and tenet of Taoist philosophy is wu wei, which can be translated as “non-action”, “effortless action” or the paradoxical “action of non-action”. That’s something that tends to sit well with my personal – “it is what it is” – philosophy for life.

The German philosopher, Martin Heidegger suggested that; “Life is not meant to be understood completely” and I would tend to agree. Our life and how we live it, shouldn’t always be about our aspirations and the realisation of future goals. In many ways, we have become far too materialistic and concerned with the views and opinions of others, whilst forgetting to understand our-self and the world around us.

Life is an experience that starts at birth and ends at death, each moment of consciousness is meant to be experienced in itself. (Martin Heidegger, German Philosopher)

The simple philosophy – you’re born, you live, you die – may sound a little trite but it’s also a realistic thought process. Starting from that point of view helps you to appreciate more of the ancillary aspects of life, the ones that are often outside your thoughts and/or control. Back to the Ancient Greeks again.

I’ve written before about how the application of a little Stoicism within our thought process (see HERE) can help us with many of our issues… throughout life, not just as a part of addiction recovery.

Life is more about pressing on through the adversity and difficult situations we get presented with. Sometimes we will deal with them successfully and sometimes we won’t. It’s always about trying to learn from those experiences as we progress past the lows and enjoy the highs of living.

Epictetus QuoteLife is a passage through a process. A series of events and goals… all-be-it with some pit-falls sometimes. Some of our goals are achieved, some may not be. Some events are enjoyed and sadly some had to be endured but all of them are mostly worthwhile. Even if they merely provide us with a learning experience, circumstances that aid our personal development… let’s not over-complicate our thought process around these events.

Thanks for reading. Now I’m off to my favourite ‘Hundred-Acre Wood’ to get some fishing done, more musings soon. Enjoy your day!

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