Su Shi (1036-1101), also known as Su Dongpo was an avid student of Buddhist teachings. He was quick-witted and humorous; as a Zen Buddhism follower he was very serious and self-disciplined. He often discussed buddhism with his good friend, Zen Master Foyin. The two lived across the river from one another.
The following is an interesting and famous story about him and Zen Master Foyin.
One day, Su Dongpo felt inspired and wrote the following poem:
I bow my head to the heaven within heaven
Hairline rays illuminating the universe
The eight winds cannot move me
Sitting still upon the purple golden lotus
The “eight winds” in the poem referred to praise, ridicule, honor, disgrace, gain, loss, pleasure and misery - interpersonal forces of the material world that drive and influence the hearts of men. Su Dongpo was saying that he has attained a higher level of spirituality, where these forces no longer affect him.
Impressed by himself, Su Dongpo sent a servant to hand-carry this poem to Foyin. He was sure that his friend would be equally impressed. When Foyin read the poem, he immediately saw that it was both a tribute to the Buddha and a declaration of spiritual refinement. Smiling, the Zen Master wrote fart on the manuscript and had it returned to Su Dongpo.
Su Dongpo was expecting compliments and a seal of approval. When he saw fart written on the manuscript, he was shocked . He burst into anger: “How dare he insult me like this? Why that lousy old monk! He’s got a lot of explaining to do!”
Full of indignation, he rushed out of his house and ordered a boat to ferry him to the other shore as quickly as possible. He wanted to find Foyin and demand an apology. However, Foyin’s door was closed. On the door was a piece of paper. It was for Su Dongpo. The paper had the following two lines:
The eight winds cannot move you, but
one fart blows you across the river
This stopped Su Dongpo cold. Foyin had anticipated this hot-headed visit. Su Dongpo’s anger suddenly drained away as he understood his friend’s meaning. If he really was a man of spiritual refinement, completely unaffected by the eight winds, then how could he be so easily provoked?
With a few strokes of the pen and minimal effort, Foyin showed that Su Dongpo was in fact not as spiritually advanced as he claimed to be. Ashamed but wiser, Su Dongpo departed quietly.
This event proved to be a turning point in Su Dongpo’s spiritual development. From that point on, he became a man of humility, and not merely someone who boasted of possessing the virtue.
I post this because of the childish uproar over the late Issac Hayes' Tribute Event. Some people were angry over the fact that the event, which was held at Hope Presbyterian Church, was some how sacrilegious seeing that Mr. Hayes was a Scientologist. All too often people are more impressed with the fact that they are righteous and God-fearing, but loose site of the reason for being so.
The glory of faith is that it is the foundation of who you are. If it is so easily shaken by those who may differ and possible doubt your beliefs then your foundation may need some work.
Let us celebrate the talent and grace that was Issac Hayes and not allow our "brain-farts" to blow us off course.