Su Shi's Story: How Fart Can Make You Grow Spiritually?
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.
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,
Impressed by himself, Su Dongpo sent a servant to hand-carry this poem to Fo Yin. He was sure that his friend would be equally impressed. When Fo Yin 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 Fo Yin and demand an apology. However, Fo Yin’s door closed. On the door was a piece of paper, for Su Dongpo. The paper had following two lines:
This stopped Su Dongpo cold. Fo Yin 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,
With a few strokes of the pen and minimal effort, Fo Yin 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.