Coffee or the Cup?


A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor.

Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.


Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite — telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.


When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you, to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and were eyeing each other’s cups.


“Now if life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of life doesn’t change. Quality of life is determined by how content and happy we are at any moment, irrespective of our situation, circumstances and environment. Of course we need cups to hold the coffee, but the quality of coffee is more important than the quality and quantity of cups. Quality of coffee is independent of the quality of cups. The quality of cups doesn’t change the taste of coffee. We may have the best of “cups”, but quality of “coffee” may be poor.


“Sometimes, by concentrating only on the “cup”, we fail to enjoy the “coffee” in it.”


We compromise on life and spoil our health and peace of mind in accumulating the “cups” instead of focusing on improving the quality and taste of “coffee”. Time, health and the quality of life that we have lost can never be gained by all the wealth in the world. Modest means of livelihood, a modest dwelling place, but with a good physical and psychological health, peace of mind, contentment, joy and an enduring warm relationship with family and friends determine the quality of life the “coffee”. They are far more fulfilling than merely an abundance of wealth and opulence. There are many things important in life where money doesn’t help. It has its own limitations.


In any business, at the end of the day what matters most to a businessman is whether he has made any profit or not. Similarly, in the business of living, at the end of the day what matters most is whether we are happy or not.


Focus on improving the quality of life rather than increasing the quantity and quality of “cups”.


Don’t let the “cups” drive you

Enjoy the “coffee” instead.

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3 thoughts on “Coffee or the Cup?

  1. Rita

    Hari Aum,

    “Focus on improving the quality of life rather than increasing the quantity and quality of “cups”.” “Don’t let the “cups” drive you… Enjoy the “coffee” instead.” This article teaches us about focusing on having a good quality of life. My focus is also on improving the quality of my life rather than being driven by the non-essentials.
    Swami-ji your blessings are always with me and my family.

  2. Geetesh Bemblikar

    Hari Aum Swami-Ji,
    Once again with golden words of Swami-ji, which suits the current situation, well explained with daily examples of cup and coffee. Such immortal words force an individual to look deep within and correct oneself immediately to be happy. As said by Swami-ji “don’t let the cups drive you… is absolutely true.

    Hari Aum

  3. Mubareka


    But we end up choosing cups hahahah

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