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Don’t worry

At Tassajara Winter Practice Period in 1972, I went to formal dokusan (interview) with Katagiri-roshi, in his cabin. We sat on the tatami facing each other, and I poured out my woes while he listened with that wonderful serious face he could make: downturned mouth, concerned eyes, nodding in encouragement as I spoke of my aching knees, my aching heart, my difficulties with others, blah blah for maybe 10 uninterrupted minutes.

When I finally wore down and stopped, slowly his concerned scowl turned into a beatific smile below sparkling eyes. In a soft voice he said, “Don’t worry about it. Be like the ocean: on the surface the waves are very big, but underneath it is deep and calm.”

Then we bowed to each other, and I went out, my heart relieved, feeling relaxed again. I got about ten steps from his cabin and came to a dead stop. Hey! I thought, wait a minute! He really didn’t tell me anything at all. Then after another moment I smiled, and said Aha! to myself, and kept on going.

Fil Lewitt
Kyoto, Japan