You have probably heard the story of the wise Zen master who told his students “to eat when they eat, walk when they walk and read when then read.”
One day a student saw the master reading and eating at the same time and questioned him on his seemingly breaking one of his own instructions by doing two things at once.
The master replied that when he was reading and eating he was simply reading and eating.
At first this seemed like a simple story expounding on the value of undivided attention. But undivided attention to what? The Zen master appeared to be quite content doing two things at once. But perhaps it was only one thing that he was doing. Imagine you are playing the piano using all ten fingers and two feet (one pressing pedals and the other keeping time.) Between your 10 fingers and 2 feet you might think you are doing 12 different things. But your focus of attention is on one thing; playing the piano. Perhaps it’s a story about not being distracted by thoughts about anything other than what you are doing. Not being distracted by commentary or comparisons or unrelated thoughts or even sensations.
Perhaps the Zen Master was only pretending to be reading. What do you think?