Many centuries ago, Zen master Ikkyu wrote that the highest wisdom was "Attention, attention, attention." When asked to explain, Ikkyu replied, "Attention means attention.” Attention is an attitude and a way of being rather than a method or goal. It is the ability to focus on the task at hand and to the nuisances in the environment. Krishnamurti wrote in Listening To The Silence:
"If you listen both to the sound of the bell and to the silence between its strokes, the whole of that listening is attention. Similarly, when someone is speaking, attention is the giving of your mind not only to the words but also to the silence between the words."
Taekwondo training helps us become aware of our surroundings while concentrating on a specific task. In pattern training, you concentrate on the techniques and reject everything occurring around you that does not pertain to performance of the pattern. While sparring, you are concentrating on your opponent, but you are aware of other students sparring around you, the location of obstacles, and the instructions of the referee. You are attentive but not judgmental. You accept and react to whatever is or is not without presumption. You are unconsciously aware of your environment until it changes in some significant way.
As we enter the dojang, we change into a combat uniform, adopt a warrior attitude, and separate ourselves from our daily lives, freeing ourselves to concentrate on task at hand. Flora Courtois wrote in The Door to Infinity that once we quiet down, there is "no need to look for vast, cosmic fireworks or for a great, big impressive way to enlightenment if we enlighten each moment with attention."