Su Dongpo prided himself on his wit and liked to debate Master Foyin. One day, over tea, he challenged the master. “Foyin, people think you are an enlightened monk, but to me you just look like a big, stinking pile of worthless dung sitting on your pillow all day long.”
Su Dongpo leaned backward and crossed his arms slyly.
Master Foyin placed his hands in prayer position, “My dear Dongpo, but to me you look like a Buddha.”
Su Dongpo grinned and bid Master Foyin farewell.
When Su Dongpo got home, he was wearing a triumphant smile. His sister asked him what happened.
“Today I outsmarted Master Foyin,”Su Dongpo replied, then recounted the events to her.
“Oh no, brother! I’m sorry to tell you this, but you lost badly,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t you realize that the world mirrors the heart? Master Foyin sees you as a Buddha because he is a Buddha. You see him as a pile of dung. What does that make you?”
Su Dongpo turned beet red. Then, all of a sudden, he became enlightened.
Source: There are many versions of this traditional story, each with their own unique take on the tale. This is the version as told by Qigong master, Jihui (Robert) Peng, in The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love and Wisdom. (Sounds True, 2014) pages 223-224
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” —C.G. Jung
“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” —Hermann Hesse
“We discover in ourselves what others hide from us and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.” —Vauvenargues