"In his list of essential rules for writers, Jack Kerouac wrote: 'Be submissive to everything, open, listening.' I could easily have missed who Katagiri was if I hadn't put myself in a position to go back over and over again. I understood that I was not 'submissive to everything,' and that I often missed something good because of my ignorance, so I would persist at something for a long while until I tasted it. But it was hard for me to see something outside myself, but I had a glimpse of my basic ignorant sleepiness and if I sensed some essential rightness I would continue even though I didn't get it right away. I knew, like steel striking a flint over and over again, eventually something in me would be ignited, and I had a flash understanding of something real.

"This was my attitude toward literature, too. If a play, poem, novel was centuries old, and I was bored reading it, I did not trust my boredom and think, this writing is no good. I figured that if it had managed to last this long, it had something worth lasting. I'd wait until I either connected with it or a teacher helped shine some light on it. that's why a teacher is so important. A teacher can hold up a seeming piece of coal and point out the diamond."