Great wave, the colossus with a soul of clay. Or how to become what we are.

- through Sophie Solere

Published on

Sumo wrestler, Great Wave the trembling champion turned into an ocean without measure.

Grande Vague's corpulence was unparalleled, he was not so much fat and fat as he was very muscular and very powerful. His tall stature and broad shoulders made him two heads taller than his peers, so he couldn't be missed in the crowds that thronged to shrines during festivals. His prodigious power and unequaled speed allowed him to triumph over all during training and even his own instructor, an unequaled champion in his early youth, could not resist his grip and his thrust.

The Achilles heel of the invincible fighter

Our man lost all his means when it came to fighting in public, a knot crushed his stomach, water clouded his sight and became a clumsy and trembling wrestler. And all the exhortations, all the encouragements only made the situation worse. The more we reassured him, the more he wavered and couldn't manage to get out of this terrible rut. He seemed as if taken by a spell or a strange fate. Neither the offerings and ceremonies celebrated at the Shinto shrine, nor the prayers and magic incantations of an old woman in the village could have overcome this evil.

It was in desperation that Grande Vague had decided to pay a visit to the temple where an itinerant monk, known for his rigor and his great faith in the traditional practice of Buddhism, was staying. The priest Hakuju then told him that he could not be of any use to him, but that only Onami, that is to say himself, could get out of this bad situation. “I invite you to stay in this temple for the night,” he told her. After a cordial and frugal dinner, the master led the wrestler into the zendo, where he asked him to sit down. "Your name is Onami, Great Wave," he told her. “Imagine that you are this immense mass of water, this irresistible body which rocks the immense ships, this formidable water which sweeps away everything in its path when it descends. Understand and see that you are no longer this little man of flesh and blood, but a surging and unbearable mountain of water, which no one and no one can resist. Do that with all your heart and mind as you set here, and then you'll realize that you're the greatest fighter in this land. »

Great Wave was undefeated for twenty years until the day it was seen advancing into the ocean and transforming into a powerful wave that slammed into the waters to join them and disappear forever.

The master stepped aside and left the wrestler sitting in the shadows of the meditation hall. Outside, a red full moon lit up the garden. The young wrestler sank into a deep meditation in which he strove to feel his body like a wave. At the very beginning, the thing was difficult for him as he was distracted by a thousand thoughts and emotions knocking on his door, he felt more like a snowflake dancing in the vast sky, a droplet of water, a pearl of sweat, a thin stream of water and small stream, then, little by little, he felt the wave rise in him and swell, as it advanced it thickened and grew. He ended up merging into it, his whole body becoming water which now surged with great force and speed, the floor and the pillars of the hall were soon drowned and the statue of Manjushri was soon soaked, the whole space under the ceiling filled with water which now rushed over the gardens which it flooded and covered. Just before dawn, the temple and its gardens were no more than an ocean with powerful waves.

The sunlight had just dissipated the last shadows of the night and the master gently approached the body of the wrestler deeply absorbed in a samadhi and touching her gently on the shoulder, he said to her: "Go, Onami, wave among the waves, nothing henceforth will be able to stop you". The story goes that after that day, Great Wave was undefeated for twenty years until the day it was seen advancing into the ocean and turning into a mighty wave that slammed into the waters to join them and disappear at Never.

Become what we are

This Japanese fable contains valuable lessons. To become what one is is indeed the prodigy of this night of meditation, when the trembling man becomes this wave and this ocean without measure, and the greatness of his true being is realized. The master Sawaki Kodo used to say: “Sit down and let zazen do the rest”. It is a question of consenting and abandoning all idea and miserable conjecture. The true dimension of what we are can only be actualized if we disappear without leaving the slightest trace. Let our true face, our true nature sit on us and not the other way around. It is this trust and faith that the practice of bare, detached sitting requires. From this meditation where we no longer do anything, we no longer concentrate on anything, this radical and absolute way of sitting in zazen which fills the entire universe (“Uchu ippaï no zazen”) according to the expression coined by Sawaki. If we really want to know a full and universal life, it is not up to us to live it from our fears or our desires. The whole secret is there. To stop, to sit absolutely for no other purpose than to be present with what is, is in itself the fearless teaching and realization of the Buddha under the tree of Enlightenment. And then there's this wave returning to the ocean, which is a very traditional image of the relationship between personal existence and the universe as a whole. We are of the same matter and substance as this world which manifests us and to which we return to dissolve and mix in it.

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

Leave comments