Encouraging Teapots

 Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

If you want to enter into relationship with the universe, if you want to love it, you have to see it as personal… I would go so far as to say that the universe conceived of as dead cannot be a universe in which one stands any chance of attaining Enlightenment.
— Sangharakshita

We have a choice about what kind of world we live in, a world of dead matter or a world of living things. All these ‘objects’ that are part of our life they exist as perceptions. Perception is not a fixed thing. Perception isn't objective, it's subjective, it's part of us. 

Take a still life drawing class. On the table in the middle are plums, some wine, and a little bread. But everyone paints a different picture. The colours, the dimensions, the relationship between things is unique to each of us.

So if we each create the world of objects that we share our lives with, what kind of world do you want to live in?

Picking violets by the side of the road,
I forgot my begging bowl.
How sad you must be, my poor little bowl!

I forgot my bowl again!
Please nobody pick it up,
My lonely little bowl.
— Ryokan Zen Buddhist monk (1758–1831)

Ryokan is a hermit living all alone, except he isn’t alone, he is in a world of living things. His bowl is his friend,  the moon that sits with him, on nights when he is feeling sad, is his friend.

In the documentary ‘Cook Your Life’ Doris Dorrie  follows Ed Brown, Zen priest and author of the The Tassajara Bread Book, while he teaches on a retreat that combines Buddhism and cooking.

Ed tells a story. It's summer and he's working in a small hot kitchen, serving a lot of people. He gets really irritated with the people he's serving, and frustrated with his co-workers. Being a Zen priest means it's embarrassing to be in such a bad mood. 

What helps him is looking at these teapots sitting on the shelf in the kitchen. They are so plump and ample. They seemed so willing to serve. He thinks to himself, ‘If they can do it so can I’.

He was living in a world of encouraging teapots.

Which world do you want to live in, a world of dead matter, or a world of living things?