The cloudy days recently encouraged me to stay closer with my coffee, the brightness of the deep brown color and its mellow smell makes me feel the energy from the sun and the earth.
It was said that coffee was discovered by a criminal who was banished from his hometown. He encountered a coffee tree at the time he was exhausted, and coffee beans helped him recover his energy. Since then, he began to share his discovery with others, especially those who were sick, to release suffering. Gradually the people in his hometown forgave his past misdeeds and gave respect to him, until one day they regarded him as a hero of kindness. This story can be a typical Choan for understanding the meaning of impermanence.
The word coffee derives from Greek “Kaweh”, which means “power and enthusiasm”; Zen also has the meaning of “power and enthusiasm”. Zen practice needs enthusiasm, which derives from the insight power gained through continuous practice, and insight power needs enthusiasm to maintain continuity. They depend on each other to develop wisdom.
The process to make a cup of coffee is a good opportunity to practice Zen. From baking, grinding, boiling, filtering until drinking, we are experiencing the transformation of its changing forms. We can enjoy the coffee because it has no fixed independent self! So that the coffee makes it possible to help us digest and keep awake.
Drinking coffee is like savoring wine, we should not gulp it, but appreciate the color and smell first, then maybe add some sugar and cream based on personal needs, and sip little by little to enjoy the taste and warmth. Zen practice requires patience to have deep taste into the reality of now – the thing, the feeling, the perception, the mental formation and consciousness; it is tasted moment by moment. And a real “coffee master” knows the limit that the body can take for health.
Coffee time will also teach us how to “put down” and “take up”. Don't have your coffee and dessert at the same time. We should enjoy the flavor of coffee and dessert one after another. That's the right way for concentration and to keep the mind here and now.
Normally I drink instant coffee, but today I enjoyed a brewed cup, with more Zen taste : )