Zen Story: Pay Attention

The following Zen story has recently become one of my favourites. The art and practice of awareness has obvious applications to any poet, but to the haiku poet in particular. In Japanese, 着目 (chakumoku) means to notice something special, and 注目 (chūmoku) means to pay attention. +

A student came to Master Ichu and said, “Please write for me something of great wisdom.” Master Ichu picked up his brush and wrote one word: “Attention.” The student said, “Is that all?” The master wrote, “Attention. Attention.” The student became irritable. “That doesn’t seem profound or subtle to me.” In response, Master Ichu wrote simply, “Attention. Attention. Attention.” In frustration, the student demanded, “What does this word ‘attention’ mean?” Master Ichu replied, “Attention means attention.”