A teapot needs to be cleaned and wiped often to keep it moist and shiny.
Brew premium tea in the teapot, and make its inner wall absorb the essence of the tea through the minute pores in the teapot.
Use a towel made of fine cotton to wipe and polish the teapot. The towel can be dry or wet. You can use tea or water to wet the towel. The water can be hot or cold. Wiping can be done when the teapot cools down after each use, or it can be done anytime. In any case, wipe and polish often.
After making and serving the tea, when waiting for the next round, do not let your hands be idle. Gently wipe and polish the teapot repeatedly, with a dry or a wet towel, using hot or cold water. You must polish the inside and outside in various ways, and make the tea come into contact evenly with all of the teapot’s surfaces. When the teapot is still hot, using a cold towel to wipe the outside surface can draw the tea from the inside wall and make it diffuse outward. Then, use a hot, wet towel to wipe the pot again and again. This can also make the tea on the outside seeps inward—inside and outside flow and exchange mutually. As the moistness seeps from the inside out, it presents an inner beauty without dazzle. It shines in its own way.
When it is necessary, the teapot can be deep-cleaned using a toothbrush and toothpaste. Because the dregs of some types of tea stick to the pot, they will seal and prevent new tea from being absorbed by the teapot. So, old tea must be cleansed away in order for the teapot to absorb new tea.
Caring for a teapot is like Chan practice, and Chan practice is like cleaning a teapot, continuously absorb wisdom, clean often, and at times do a deep cleaning and brushing…. Only then can the internal and external can benefit each other. And as the inner is refined and polished, it shines with delicacy and humility.
In other words, the caretaker of a teapot not only needs to nurture the teapot, they also need to purify their own mind. Unceasingly absorb wisdom from those awakened and enlightened ones, transform the mind through studying and cleansing, improve and refine your behavior. When noticing some stubborn rough spots in your life, have the courage to do a deep-cleansing, so that you can start fresh and carry on with your practice diligently.
When a teapot has been nourished to shine inside out, the mind will also be cultivated to reach a state of purity and serenity.
Like a teapot, the state of our mind should be uplifted through practice.
(1999/12/30. Published in 《爾然小品》by Dharma Drum Publications. Photos from 《頑石點頭》。)