"Teddy" explores different kinds of wisdom and knowledge. Main character Teddy embraces a spiritual understanding of the world and the soul, and discusses at length the danger of logic and intellectual concerns. Logic, he explains, gets in the way of real knowledge. To grasp how the world really works, he says, we have to rid ourselves of logic. Teddy's serene understanding of life and death is contrasted with the overly academic concerns of Nicholson, whose self-congratulatory approach to knowledge seems to be looked down on by the author.
An overly-logical, analytical, or intellectual approach to "Teddy" obscures the story's real meaning.
In "Teddy," Salinger reveals his lighthearted approach to Zen and pokes fun at those who take it too seriously.