In Which P. B. Law Imagines What Would Happen If Christopher Robin Taught the Forest Animals about Buddhism
When the animals awoke in the Forest that morning, they all knew that something had changed, but not until the sleep had fully left their heads and seeped back into their pillows did they begin to remember what it was. Yesterday afternoon Christopher Robin had returned from school, where he had learned about Buddhism. After explaining it to them, he told them that he was now a Buddhist and wanted to know if anyone wanted to join him.
Of course, because they all loved him, the animals had said Yes without really stopping to think. But now they found themselves thinking very hard about what being a Buddhist might mean. Winnie the Pooh lay in bed, asking himself, “Does this mean I have to do something differently? What do Buddhists do with their mornings and afternoons? I hope I don’t have to give up my little-something-at-eleven-o’clock.” This thought made him feel so all-over hungry that he had to get up and go to his cupboard to find something to sustain himself.
When he had finished his breakfast, Pooh wandered over to Piglet’s house to see if Piglet could remember anything Christopher Robin had said yesterday. Halfway there, he found Piglet sitting in their Thoughtful Place trying to think as thoughtfully as he could.
“Hallo, Piglet,” said Pooh. “What are you thinking about?”
“Oh, hallo, Pooh,” said Piglet. “I was trying to remember the things that Christopher Robin said yesterday, but I can’t get all the words in my head at the same time. Some of the things sounded very comfortable, like Noble Truths and even some of the bigger things, like lovingkindness. But some of the other things didn’t seem very much like things at all. Like suffering and emptiness and what-not. At least they didn’t seem to be so very to me.”
“I was about to say the same thing myself,” said Pooh. “Maybe we should go ask Owl. He has a good brain that can remember long things without their getting all wobbly.”
So they set out together for Owl’s Tree. When they arrived there they found a new sign posted by the door. Owl had meant for the sign to say, “Buddhist Scholar,” but this is what he had actually written:
“What does that say?” asked Pooh.
“Something about dust, I think, but I can’t really tell,” said Piglet. “Owl’s brain is so roomy that he can store more letters in his words than I.”
So Pooh pulled on Owl’s bell ringer and knocked on his door. After a moment Owl called out, “Go away. I’m thinking…. Oh, it’s you. What do you want?” For that was his way with everybody.
“Now that we’re Buddhists,” Pooh said to him, “we’re trying to find out what Buddhists do. So we can do it.”
“They look for Awakening,” said Owl. “That’s what they do.”
“But what’s a Wakening?” asked Piglet in a casual sort of way to show that he wasn’t afraid of Animals with Unfamiliar Names. “Is it a Friendly Animal, or one of the Fiercer Sorts?”
“There are three kinds,” Owl replied. “Sudden, gradual, and rude.”
“Oh,” said Piglet, suddenly remembering that Christopher Robin had talked about this yesterday. “I only remembered the first two.”
“The third is the most commonly spotted,” said Owl.
Piglet did not like the sound of Sudden and Spotted Rude Wakenings, for they sounded too bouncy, like Tigger. He preferred a Wakening that would be fond of Very Small Animals and wouldn’t jump on them without warning. So he said in a casual voice to Pooh, “I think it would be a Finer Thing to look for one of the shy ones, don’t you, Pooh? Like the gradual ones. They might be grateful that we took the trouble.”
“Yes,” said Pooh. “They’d be the most likely to greet you in a friendly way and offer you a little honey as a hallo-getting-to-know-you kind of present. They do have honey, don’t they, Owl?”
“That I can’t say for sure. You can never tell with Awakening.”
“But how do you find Gradual Wakenings?” asked Piglet. “Do you call for them? Or do you set a trap? And how do you make sure that you wouldn’t catch Sudden or Rude Wakenings? Because we wouldn’t want to cause them any inconvenience. It would be a shame to catch them and then tell them to go home because we caught them by mistake. Especially if they’re Sudden or Rude.”
“The only way to catch Awakening is with long words,” said Owl, “Like ‘Momentariness’ and ‘Non-duality’ and ‘Interconnectedness.’”
“Inner neck—Bother,” said Pooh quietly to himself. “That sounds like too much for a Bear of Very Little Brain.” So he turned to Piglet and said, “I think we should go give it a try. What do you say to that, Piglet?”