Attention (Zen Parable)

In a quiet room filled with anticipation, a student approached Zen Master Ikkyū Sōjun, renowned for his insightful wisdom that cut through life’s complexities. With a heart full of questions and seeking enlightenment, the student asked the master for a piece of wisdom to illuminate his path towards understanding.

Ikkyū, with a demeanor as calm as the still surface of a lake, took up his brush with deliberate slowness and, on a piece of parchment, wrote a single word: “Attention.” The student, puzzled by the simplicity of the response, pressed for more, only to receive the same word again, “Attention. Attention.” Each repetition seemed to deepen the mystery, drawing the student’s irritation to the surface. “How could such a simple word hold the key to wisdom?” he wondered aloud.

In response, Ikkyū, undisturbed by the growing frustration, added yet another “Attention,” as if each stroke of the brush was a testament to the profound depth contained within the ordinary. The student’s demand for clarity met with the master’s serene finality, “Attention means attention,” a statement echoing vast emptiness and fullness.