Monday, September 1, 2008

Self-confidence Found In An Ancient Zen Story

Wisdom can be found in all religions and philosophies. In my opinion, the most balanced and well-adjusted people are the ones who see connection and synchronicity in the world around them. It's exhilarating to find that many of the parables of Jesus share a common thread with Zen teachings and the words of Buddha. It says to me that there is universal truth that we can all draw on, learn from and take comfort in. It reinforces that God, the world, and all contained in it belong to and is part of you as well as me - no matter the name I give it. Here is an example of a Zen story that speaks to me when I am bound up in fear and self-doubt. Maybe you will find inspiration in it, too.

Great Waves

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 wresting. In his private bouts he defeated even his teacher, but in public 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 great 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 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 before you."

The same day O-nami entered the wrestling contests and won. After that, no one in Japan was able to defeat him.

I discovered this story on 101 Zen Stories. Go there to read the remaining 100.


Francis Scudellari said...

Hi Lisa,
I like this story a lot. I know I often focus too much on the things I can't control rather than those I can. There's much wisdom in it.

Lisa McGlaun said...


It's so great to hear from you! I liked this one, too. It really is true that we are what we believe we are.

I fight "negative self-talk" all the time. I have to remember to tell myself I am capable if I want to accomplish something. I've spent way too much time listening to the voice that says I'm not.

No more of that!

Hope all is well with you. Hugs,