Make your own free website on

Christopher and Pooh

Nowhere and Nothing

Excerpt from The Tao of Pooh

by Benjamin Hoff

"Where are we going?", said Pooh hurrying after him and wondering whether it was to be an Explore or a What-shall-I-do-about-you-know-what.

"Nowhere," said Christopher Robin.

So they began going there, and after they had walked a little way, Christopher Robin said:

"What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?"

(And of course, what Pooh liked doing best was going to Christopher Robin's house and eating, but since we've aready quoted that, we don't think we need to quote it again.)

"I like that too," said Christopher Robin, "but what i like doing best is Nothing."

"How do you do Nothing?" asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

"Well, it's what people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, Nothing, and then you go and do it."

"Oh, I see," said Pooh.

"This is a nothing sort of thing that we're doing now."

"Oh, I see," said Pooh again.

"It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.

Chuang-tse put it this way:

Consciousness wandered North to the land of Dark Waters and climbed the Unnoticeable Slope, where he met the Speechless Non-Doer. "I have three questions for you," Consciousness said, "First, what thoughts and efforts will lead us to understanding the Tao? Second, where must we go and what must we do to find peace in the Tao? Third, from what point must we start and which road must we follow in order to reach the Tao? Speechless Non-Doer gave him no answer.

Consciousness traveled South to the land of the Bright Ocean and climbed the mountain of Certainty, where he met the Impulsive Speech-Maker. He asked him the same three questions. "Here are the answers," Impulsive Speech-Maker replied. But as soon as he started to speak, he became confused and forgot what he was talking about.

Consciousness returned to the palace and asked the Yellow Emperor, who told him, "To have no thought and put forth no effort is the first step towards understanding the Tao. To go nowhere and do nothing is the first step towards finding peace in the Tao. To start from no point and follow no road is the first step towards reaching the Tao."

What Chuang-tse, Christopher Robin and Pooh are describing is the Great Secret, the key that unlocks the doors of wisdom, happiness and truth. What is that magic, mysterious something? Nothing. To the Taoist, Nothing is something, and Something - at least the sort of thing that many consider to be important - is really nothing at all. Our explanation of this will attempt to give some sort of indication of what the Taoists call T'ai Hsu, the "Great Nothing".

We will begin with an illustration from the writing of Chuang-tse:

On his way back from the K'un-lun Mountains, the Yellow Emperor lost the dark pearl of Tao. He sent Knowledge to find it, but Knowledge was unable to understand it. He sent Distant Vision, but Distant Vision was unable to see it. He sent Eloquence, but Eloquence was unable to describe it. Finally, he sent Empty Mind, and Empty Mind came back with the pearl.

An Empty sort of mind is valuable for finding pearls and tails and things because it can see what's in front of it. An Overstuffed mind is unable to. While the clear mind listesn to a 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. Knowledge and Cleverness tend to concern themselves with the wrong sort of things, and a mind confused by Knowledge, Cleverness and Abstract Ideas tends to go chasing after things that don't matter, or that don't even exist, instead of seeing, appreciating, and making use of what is right in front of it.

Benjamin Hoff

The Tao of Pooh
Excerpt from the chapter: Nowhere and Nothing


Back to Apprentice Weavers