A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (REVIEW)
I am amazed that more people have not read this book (at least, most people of my generation who happen to be in my surrounding area - or, at least, the ones who take the time to talk to me about books they have read); it is essentially a roadmap for navigating the pitfalls of planet Earth’s pesterers and provocateurs, providing those who read it with the definitive recipe for a joyful, peaceful, equanimous existence.
It is not really a recipe that calls for all that many ingredients, either. Honestly, come to think of it, the only ingredients it calls for are just these two: an open mind and an open heart.
That is it. Everything else will become clearer as you gradually begin to remove any obstructions from your pathway and, eventually, start to walk in lockstep with the eternal Tao.
What is the Tao, you may be asking? While this is a good question, it is not one that can be answered in words. This is because, as Lao Tzu famously says in this very text, “the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao”; indeed, once you begin to put a label on it, it ceases to be infinite. It becomes something tangible, something concrete, something that you can just point at and say “Hey, there it is! Look everybody - it’s the Tao!”
That would be silly, and would defeat the entire purpose of Taoism, which is to not be attached to such rigid ways of looking at things. I first became acquainted with the Tao by way of none other than everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic bear: Winnie the Pooh. Ever since the day I was born, my whole essence has been draped in A.A. Milne regalia, and most of my earliest memories are of swapping stories about “Piggy-Pig” (Piglet) and “Oreo” (Eeyore) with my little sister.
Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
Wait, no, that’s the next book...my bad, guys.
It has been a long day.
Where was I? Oh, yes - Pooh. You see, this may not have been stated explicitly by Mr. Milne, but Winnie is a devout Taoist. Everybody else around him is so concerned with all of these seemingly important matters: Tigger’s undying desire to get something accomplished, Piglet’s endless worrying, and Eeyore’s endless lamenting.
Pooh don’t worry bout none of that mess, though. Alls he needs is a nice big pot of honey and a red shirt. No pants necessary.
Right on, Winnie. Right on.