Now, don’t be offended by the f-word. After all, it is a bodily function no one is immune to, right?
You know how farts are formed. You eat a lot more than you meant to. Next up is indigestion. And before you know it, you are tooting away. Sometimes unable to control yourself in company, sometimes managing to do the sustained release thing, much to the disgust of all present.
Okay, that’s not the Wednesday Wisdom you are here to take away, right?
There IS such a thing as spiritual farts. I’ll explain.
A Zen Buddhist student, Su Dongpo was known for his quick wit and humor. He was also self-disciplined and took his training seriously. His friend, Zen Master Foyin, lived across the river from him and they often enjoyed discussing Buddhism.
One day, Su Dongpo wrote a 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
In the poem, the eight winds related to praise, ridicule, honor, disgrace, gain, loss, pleasure and misery—all of which influence human beings. He expressed that he had now risen above these to a higher level of spirituality and these forces did not affect him anymore.
Quite happy with himself, Su Dongpo sent the poem to his friend Foyin, confident that he would be impressed with it. Foyin read the poem and recognized it as a tribute to the Buddha and proclamation of spirituality. He smiled and wrote “fart” on the poem and returned it to Su Dongpo via the messenger.
Su Dongpo was anxiously waiting for the messenger to return, quite sure that his friend would shower compliments on him for the poem. When he saw “fart” written on the poem, he was enraged. He exploded, thinking how audacious of him to insult him thus. He thought, that disgusting old monk! I won’t let him get away with this!
Feeling resentful, he literally rushed out of his house, waving poem in hand and jumped on a boat, commanding that he be ferried across to his friend’s house ASAP. He was furious and was all set to demand an apology. When he ran up the stairs to the door, he found it locked. But he noticed a note stuck on the door addressed to him. It said,
The eight winds cannot move me
One fart blows me across the river
Su Dongpo was stunned. Obviously, Foyin had expected him to turn up.
In a moment, Su Dongpo’s anger vanished. He realized that if he had indeed attained a higher spiritual level, and the eight winds could no longer affect him, his friend’s word would not have provoked him.
His friend had shown him that he wasn’t yet where he claimed to be. Humbled, Su Dongpo headed back home. He had learned his lesson. He stopped showing off and practiced what he had learned.
Being vain comes rather naturally to human beings. Humility is tougher. As a result, criticism can sound offensive. Imagine if one were to pause and take it positively.
It is all too easy to allow that fart to fuel one across the river.
We all have a tendency to gather information about things we want to learn and before we know it, there’s information overload. Take thsoe innumerable newsletters we subscribe to, that lie around in our mailbox, those pages we bookmark–intending to get to them some day. Unfortunately, some day is not a day of the week. It all accumulates. Then we get annoyed when the mailbox provider pops up every time we sign in to say we’re running out of space.
We turn over a temporary new leaf and start reading up until our eyeballs are ready to pop. We’re so busy reading that we never get around to applying what we learn.
Yikes! Both for you and those around you.
Brian Johnson of Optimize explains this in this video
He mentions that if we simply study and talk about spiritual truths but never actually LIVE the stuff, we will get spiritual indigestion and constipation.
Spiritual farts are not pretty.
Theory is great. But practice is what matters.
Actions do speak louder.
It is absolutely necessary to roll up those sleeves and DO.
What one learns, one must apply.
So, moral of the story? Do.
Because spiritual indigestion is painful.
And get rid of those spiritual farts.
Live your purpose.
#WednesdayWisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, and humor.