The eight winds

The Buddhists say there are eight winds. They are gain and loss, praise and ridicule, credit and blame, and suffering and joy. If you aren’t aware of them, they will blow you away like dry leaves in an autumn breeze. For example, when someone praises you and that tastes sweet, like candy in your mouth, you are being blown away by the wind of praise.

One day in ancient China a young man thought he had become enlightened. He wrote a poem to his master about how he was not blown away by the eight winds. Then he sent it to his master who lived three hundred miles up the Yangtze river.

When his master read the poem, he wrote “Fart, Fart” on the bottom and sent it back.

The more the young man read those words, the more upset he got. At last he decided to visit his master. In those days, a three-hundred-mile trip up the Yangtze river was a very difficult journey.

As soon as he arrived, he went straight to the master’s temple. “Why did you write this?” he asked, bowing. “Doesn’t this poem show that I am no longer blown about by the eight winds?”

“You say that you are no longer blown away by the eight winds,” replied the master, “but two little farts blew you all the way up here.”


From Soul Stories by Gary Zukav

Sri Lanka postage stamp (1981) on Sanchi Stupa, India, courtesy