Stephanie Sieberhagen

Relationship Specialist

Dr Steph's blog

The Tao of Pooh

Posted by on April 26, 2020 at 8:00 AM

You might be familiar with this wonderful little book which is really some Taoist (pronounced Daoist) wisdom for dummies like me. Tao is complicated, but the author - Benjamin Hoff, makes some of the most prevalent wisdoms of Tao easily available for everyday living. The principle I would like to share with you is that of the Uncarved Block.

The story goes that an acolyte was following his master and the master asked the acolyte to explain what a tree they were standing next to - would be good for. The tree was ancient and gnarled, filled all over with beautiful green leaves. The acolyte answered that the wood from the tree would be of little use for construction as the trunk and branches were all knotted and twisted. He expanded by adding that the wood would not be good for firewood either, as the old wood would be very hard and difficult to cut or chop up.

The master promptly lay down under the tree and closed his eyes. He said to the acolyte, 'But it is good for this.' The acolyte was unimpressed, saying, 'But you are not doing anything.', to which the master replied, 'Exactly.'

The tree is the uncarved block. When we assess other people, we often do so based on their utility. We judge them according to what we might gain from them or what contributions we feel an individual should make. In most instances, those we observe, fall short. 

What Tao teaches here, is that we all have intrinsic value and that seeing and appreciating that value is a matter of perspective. The old tree provided beautiful shade and shelter and seen from that perspective, it was very useful. When seen through the eyes of a carpenter - it was simply a waste of time.

Whenever you find yourself looking at those close to you and finding them dissapointing you, remind yourself of their strenghts and allow yourself to hold those in your mind and celebrate them. The result is a wonderful warm glow that I will cherish more than a scornful brow any day of the week.

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