To appreciate this lesson one must have at least an understanding that there is good coffee, and not so good coffee. To put this in the context of Zen we must abandon all notions of a best coffee, and start with the basics. Coffee Beans, Water, Heat, and Measures.
Every bit of information one accumulates, every experience one has, these could be likened to coffee beans. What quality do you imagine they might be? Are they like espresso, or some bland house blend? Naturally in a meditation one must have an understanding of what they are bringing in, to get an idea of what might be produced.
Water and Heat
Your pre meditative mind may be clear, but is it clean? Is it safe to consume your thinking? What will happen when you sit with the heat of your attention from your current mindset? Will it be too strong and evaporate everything? Will it be indifferent and not hot enough to brew a significant product?
Certainly you can’t take everything into a meditation at once. Too many beans and you’ll get mud, too few and you’ll get watery results. You must carry in just enough for your pot, and just strong enough to warrant the effort, and just enough heat to make it perfect. How long should it take? Aren’t you the coffee maker?
You’ll know when it’s done, and with practice, you’ll know when it’s done right.
To make use of this lesson, one must find a place to sit. Clear your mind by allowing one sentence to rise in your mind and allow it to repeat, omitting words as it does until there is only silence. You may find yourself doing this again and again, but this is just heating the water.
Next when you have silence, pay attention to it. Intentionally ask one question. It can be a Koan, or just an ordinary question, but none of the answers that spring from your mind can be permitted to be the answer you seek.
After time and study, you’ll have experiences that confirm for you how this exercise is very much like making coffee. You’ll either improve upon it, or get used to bitter drinks.