Su Dongpo, a renowned Buddhist poet and scholar during the Song Dynasty, was deeply committed to spiritual practice. He believed himself to be advanced in his spiritual journey and felt he had transcended worldly distractions.
Fo Yin, a Zen Master and a friend of Su Dongpo, lived just across the river from him. They both used to engage in spiritual dialogues while challenging and inspiring each other.
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A Declaration of Enlightenment
One day, inspiration led Su Dongpo to pen a famous poem. The poem was a proclamation of his spiritual excellence and mindfulness. It said:
Bowing with my highest respect
To the deva of devas
Whose fine light illuminates the whole universe,
The eight winds cannot move me,
For I am sitting upright on the golden purple lotus blossom.
The eight winds in this poem symbolize praise, ridicule, honor, disgrace, gain, loss, pleasure, and misery. These are forces that can sway the human heart. Su Dongpo’s words were a bold assertion that he had reached a spiritual height where these forces no longer affected him.
Impressed by his profound insight, Su Dongpo sent a servant to hand-deliver the poem to his friend Fo Yin. He expected his friend to be equally impressed.
When Fo Yin read the poem, he recognized its tribute to the Buddha and its declaration of spiritual advancement. In response, he wrote “fart” on the manuscript and returned it with a knowing smile.
Su Dongpo’s expectations turned to shock and anger when he saw the word “fart” scribbled on his masterpiece. Fuming, he immediately boarded a boat. (Also Read: The Story of a Monk and an Empty Boat)
The troubled waters reflected his inner turmoil as Su Dongpo traveled across the river—the need to confront Fo Yin and demand an apology consumed him.
A Mirror to Ego
Upon reaching Fo Yin’s door, Su Dongpo found a note:
The eight winds cannot move me,
One fart blows me across the river.
Fo Yin had anticipated his friend’s egotistical response and arrival. He had exposed Su Dongpo’s pride and arrogance with just a few words.
Su Dongpo’s anger turned to shock, leading to a profound realization. Fo Yin’s ease in provoking him laid bare Su Dongpo’s vulnerability. He remained enslaved not just to the eight winds but also to his pride and arrogance.
Dongpo’s story imparts timeless lessons that resonate with us all.
Our journey to spiritual awareness calls for unending mindfulness. We must stand firm and vigilant against the whispers of ego that try to pull us off our path.
Pride and arrogance can cloud our vision and divert us from pursuing enlightenment.
Embrace this profound wisdom. Reflect on and recognize your weaknesses. Embrace humility and brace yourself against the disturbances of Earthly life.
Transcendence may seem a challenging destination, but it’s a path we must courageously follow. With determination and honesty, we can conquer this journey.
Embrace your better self. Begin this transformation now!