The Eight Winds

Summary: “A wise person is not swayed by the eight winds.” 

The above quote comes from the writings of a Japanese Buddhist priest named Nichiren Daishonin who lived over 700 years ago. I’m not a Buddhist, but I will take good ideas wherever and whenever I find them. This was a good idea 740 years ago when Nichiren wrote about it, and I believe it’s a good idea today. So, here are the following eight influences that, according to Nichiren, “agitate and inflame the human heart and mind.”

Prosperity/Decline

Honor/Disgrace

Praise/Censure

Pleasure/Suffering

One unnamed expert in Buddhism said, “For the most part, life consists of repeated encounters with these eight winds.” What would your life be like if these eight influences were unable to agitate and inflame your heart and mind?

I first read about the eight winds years ago and immediately decided I wanted to seriously play around with this idea. For those who know and interact with me personally, I may have to eat these words someday…but I believe I’ve made significant progress on my quest to avoid being blown around by external circumstances – good and bad.

I practice “not being swayed by the eight winds” by applying it to ordinary garden-variety life circumstances. For example, I no longer suffer as much in the “12 items or less” line at the grocery store when someone gets in front of me with 20 or more items (while talking on their cell phone, and not having their payment ready, and using a pile of coupons). I practice in traffic. I practice it when people ask for my advice and promptly ignore it. I practice it when people say incredibly nice things about me (accepting the comment respectfully, but not taking it too seriously). I practice it when people criticize me (accepting the comment respectfully, but not taking it too seriously).

After years of practicing this, I feel a remarkable difference in my inner state in these situations. In the past, I would probably seem calm to observers, but my mind and heart would be “agitated and inflamed” and I would not be so internally calm. I’ve still got plenty of work to get where I want to be, but I’m making significant progress! Most of the time in “eight winds” situations, I now feel no sense of agitation on the inside. For example, recently on an international trip…with a front-desk check-in (computer app didn’t work so I had to do it the old fashion way), a TSA check-in, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection check-in…followed by a four-hour delay with four gate changes, and various other hassles…my nervous system remained very calm – outside and inside. It appears that neuroplasticity has reformatted my nervous system.

Working on developing “eight winds” resilience is a good way to joyfully participate in life. In my case, I like my new nervous system much better than my old one.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris

2 thoughts on “The Eight Winds

  1. Reply
    Megan - October 1, 2017

    I love this!!! Thank You Chris.

    1. Reply
      Chris - October 1, 2017

      You are welcome!

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