In the early days of the Meiji era there live 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 fell he should go to a Zen master for help. Hakuju, a wandering teacher,
was stopped in a little temple nearby, so O-nami went to see him and told him of
“Great Waves is your name,” the teacher advised, “so stay in this temple
tonight, imaging that you are those billows. You are no longer 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 turned more and more
to the feeling of the wave. As the night advanced the waves became huger and
huger. 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
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 yon,” he said. “You
are those waves. You will sweep everything before you.”
The same day O-nami entered the wrestling contests and won. After that, no one
in Japan was able to defeat him.