Garma C. Chang relates the story of Su Tung Po, a celebrated poet and devout Buddhist of the Song Dynasty, who was close friends with Fo Ying, a brilliant Chan master. Fo Ying’s temple was on the Yang-tse River’s west bank, while Su Tung Po’s house stood on the east bank. One day Su Tung Po paid a visit to Master Fo Ying and, finding him absent, sat down in his study to wait. Finally bored with waiting, he began to scribble poetic verses on a sheet of paper he found on a desk, signing them with the words, “Su Tung Po, the great Buddhist who cannot be moved even by the combined forces of the mighty Eight Worldly Winds.” (These are gain, loss, defamation, eulogy, praise, ridicule, sorrow and joy.) After a while longer of waiting, Su Tung Po got tired and left for home.
When Master Fo Ying returned and saw Su Tung Po’s composition on the desk, he added the following line after the poet’s signature line: “Rubbish! What you have said is not better than breaking wind!” and sent it to Su Tung Po. When Su Tung Po read this outrageous comment, he was so furious that he crossed the river on the nearest boat, and hurried once again to Fo Ying’s temple. Catching hold of the master’s arm, Su Tung Po cried: “What right have you to denounce me in such language? Am I not a devout Buddhist who cares only for the Dharma? Are you so blind after knowing me for so long?”
Master Fo Ying looked at him quietly for a few seconds, then smiled and slowly said: “Ah, Su Tung Po, the great Buddhist who claims that the combined forces of the Eight Winds can hardly move him an inch, is now carried all the way to the other side of the Yang Tse River by a single puff of wind from the colon!”