Meditation & Health #20-A Sip of Wisdom in a Cup
A Sip of Wisdom in a Cup
A group of students gathered at the home of their professor a year after graduating. The graduates were eager to share stories of their relationship and career successes. Eventually, the conversation drifted from achievements to complaints about the stress and anxiety common to both the workplace and the home.
During a lull in the conversation, the professor excused himself, later emerging from the kitchen with a big pot of coffee and a large assortment of cups on a tray. Some of the cups were expensive and delicate, fashioned of the most exquisite china. Others were modest, ordinary cups of little aesthetic or monetary value.
After the professor poured coffee into each cup, he asked his students to help themselves. When everyone had a cup of coffee in their hands, the professor said, “Do you notice that you are all holding the beautiful, expensive cups? You’ve all left the humble cups to grow cold.”
The students looked at one another and remained silent. The professor continued, “It is natural that you want the best for yourself in life. But this desire is also the source of your problems. The cup is the wealth, social status, and success you have been chasing. Greed, jealousy, egoism, attachment, and unhappiness arise from your material wants.
“In fact, what you really want is the coffee. The cup does not add value to your drink. By being so focused on obtaining the best-quality cup, you fail to appreciate the aroma of the coffee, which is the essence of life.”
Grandmaster JinBodhi has said, “The greatest happiness is health, not money; the greatest wealth is knowledge, not property; and the greatest freedom is serenity in the heart, freedom from obsessive, grasping thought.” This parable seeks to teach that the pursuit of worldly success and material gain blinds people to the beauty of life. Obsessed with the image represented by the cup, you are ignorant that the coffee is, in fact, the life you should be living — a life of good health, happiness, compassion, virtuous giving, and loving-kindness.