Su Tung-Po spent most of his life employed in various governmental positions. His poetry and prose often put him at odds with ruling factions, and he was twice banished from different provinces. These banishments and the small stipends allotted to government officials encouraged him to take up Buddhist meditation. His poetry is infused with Buddhist philosophy, as well as with Confucianism.
Today, Su Tung-Po’s oeuvre is valuable for the quality of its poems, its contributions to 11th-century Chinese travel literature, and its details about the Chinese iron industry.