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"Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen.”-Bodhidharma

"When I chop wood, I chop wood. When I carry water, I carry water."-Layman Pang

"You make, You get."-Zen Master Byok Am Sunim

Monday, December 21, 2015

Zen master Ikkyu, in fifteenth-century Japan, thrust this advice at a questioner:
One day a man of the people said to Zen master Ikkyu, "Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?"
Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word: "Attention."
"Is that all?" asked the man. "Will you not add something more ?"
Ikkyu then wrote twice running: "Attention. Attention."
"Well," remarked the man rather irritably, "I really don't see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written."
Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times running: "Attention. Attention. Attention."
Half-angered, the man demanded, "What does that word 'attention' mean anyway?"
Ikkyu answered gently, "Attention means attention." 
Ikkyu's determined repetition of the word "attention" is a demonstration that reinforces his point, because true attentiveness is sustained, not sporadic. What we know of Ikkyu's life adds a dimension to this anecdote that is pertinent for engaged Buddhists. Though a monk, Ikkyu deliberately immersed himself in the world, so his own practice of mindfulness did not depend on the disciplined atmosphere of a monastery.

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