“Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure. They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds. But if you nurse an unreasonable grudge against your lord, they will not protect you, not for all your prayers.“Nichiren Daishonin
There are many stories I have encountered from my Buddhist practice that have really made me think about the way we humans perceive things happening in our lives.
The Eight Winds is such a story, providing valuable information on why we should walk the middle road; not to be arrogant in favorable times, and not to fall to despair in hard times.
The eight winds expands on the idea that regardless of our circumstances, we must not allow the weakness of our minds to affect our happiness, and desire to help others.
I have taken the following excerpts directly from the Nichiren Shoshu True Buddhism website. The entire article is attached below for further reading.
Wishing you a blessed journey…
What are the Eight Winds?
The “eight winds” are eight influences that agitate and inflame the human heart and mind. They consist of four favorable circumstances (prosperity, honor, praise, and pleasure) and four setbacks (decline, disgrace, censure, and suffering). Their contents are roughly as follows:
Prosperity: Obtaining what one desires.
Decline: Suffering loss.
Honor: To be admired and praised in one’s absence.
Disgrace: To be criticized and defamed in one’s absence (behind one’s back)
Praise: To be admired and praised directly.
Censure: To be criticized and defamed directly.
Pleasure: To be happy in body and mind.
Suffering: To suffer in body and mind.
Common mortals are quick to rejoice and quick to feel despair. Some people are easily influenced by gain, while others are easily swayed by decline. People who are weak when it comes to gain will indulge in excess luxury as soon as they receive a high salary, recklessly spend money here and there, and look down on people with less money. People who are weak when it comes to decline will resent their boss if they do not advance at work as they would like, become jealous of their co‑workers, lose their enthusiasm, and take their frustrations out on their families.
Those who are manipulated by flattery are people easily affected by the wind of “praise.” People who immediately become angry as soon as someone gossips about them can be defeated by the wind of “disgrace.” Those whose balance is most disturbed by the eight winds are people who strongly seek to be well thought of by others and who act in order to receive the praise of others, whether they consciously realize it or not.
Stop and think about the nature of life for a moment. The “eight winds” blow through each and every situation we encounter. The eight winds easily penetrate our defenses and influence our actions. Because of this, we bring various tragedies upon ourselves and others. However, there is no reason to point fingers at other people. What is necessary is to strictly examine how this applies to each one of us. “