July 11, 2019

“The famed poet Su Dong Po, of the Sung dynasty, composed the following verse to express his attainment: ‘Prostrate to the heaven among the heavens, light of a single hair strand illuminates the universe. Imperturbable by the worldly winds, seated firmly upon the golden purple lotus.’ The eight worldly winds are praise, censure, disgrace, honor, prosperity, decline, suffering, and pleasure; these are the eight things that most occupy the mind of an ordinary individual. When the mind is hooked by the phenomenon, it grasps. It then becomes unstable, like the dust blown back and forth on the breeze. These eight winds restrict and disturb the mind, causing mental laxity and weakened focus. Su Dong Po was proud of his practices as well as this poem, so he decided to send it to his good friend across the river, Zen Master Foyin, so that he could enjoy it, too. After reading the poem, Master Foyin smiled and commented on the back of the letter (in two Chinese words) “Fart!” and dispatched his attendant to take the poem back across the river. After reading the comment, Su Dong Po became irate and boarded a boat immediately, intending to argue with the Zen master face to face. When they finally meet, master Foyin said to him, ‘I thought you could not be perturbed by the eight winds, but now two words have already blown you all the way across the river!'” How often have the eight worldly winds grabbed me, preoccupying my thoughts. How far can they still move me?