In the early days of the Meiji era there lived a well-known wrestler
called O-nami, Great Waves.
O-nami was immensely strong and knew the art of wrestling. In his
private bouts he defeated even his teacher, but in public he was so
bashful that his own pupils threw him.
O-nami felt he should go to a Zen master for help. Hakuju, a wandering
teacher, was stopping in a little temple nearby, so O-nami went to see
him and told him of his trouble.
"Great Waves is your name," the teacher advised, "so stay
in this temple tonight. Imagine that you are those billows. You are no
longer a wrestler who is afraid. You are those huge waves sweeping
everything before them, swallowing all in their path. Do this and you
will be the greatest wrestler in the land."
The teacher retired. O-nami sat in meditation trying to imagine
himself as waves. He thought of many different things. Then gradually he
turned more and more to the feeling of the waves. As the night advanced
the waves became larger and larger. They swept away the flowers in their
vases. Even the Buddha in the shrine was inundated. Before dawn the
temple was nothing but the ebb and flow of an immense sea.
In the morning the teacher found O-nami meditating, a faint smile on
his face. He patted the wrestler's shoulder. "Now nothing can disturb
you," he said. "You are those waves. You will sweep everything
The same day O-nami entered the wrestling contests and won. After
that, no one in Japan was able to defeat him.