A group of highly established alumni got together at their old university professor’s place. The conversation there soon turned to complaints about endless stress of life in general. The professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an ecentric assortment of cups: – procelain, plastic, glass, and crystal- some plain, some expensive, some quite exquiste.
He told them to help themselves to some fresh coffee. When each of his students had a cup of coffee in hand, the old professor quietly said… “You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones. While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is actually the source of your stress and other problems.
Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink. What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups…Then you began eying each other’s cups… “Now consider this: Life is coffee Territory, color status, work, and professions are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain Life, and the type of cup we have, does not truly define nor change the quality of Life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee that God has provided us…”
I really like this story, it raises some interesting questions. I have always thought on the same lines, but lets not forget the situation, because the situation reveals as much as the story. Here we have a University prof, and his students: all have high levels of education. What will their problems be like? Obviously, they should pale in comparison to those of a poor man?
I can imagine you nodding your head in agreement. What if I said, I believe that you are wrong!!
The Prophet said that true wealth is inner wealth and also that contentment is true wealth. So, the people who are truly at ease are those who have inner wealth. Do not let a surface reading of the situation mislead you into believing that material wealth is the only defining sign of well being.
Yes, many will say to you, it is very difficult for you to imagine what life is like for the poor, but at the same time it is very difficult for the poor man to imagine our problems. We have no right to strip poor people off their dignity which we do by telling them that they are worse off because they have less than us.
Please, do not think that I am trivializing their plight; I am only saying, until there is economic justice, do we leave these poor people to despair? No. I think the least we can do is teach them to not feel ashamed of their poverty.
I will finish with another story:
Ashfaq Ahmed Sahib, told this story once. He says that once he was visiting a small village. An old man was part of the crowd that had come to see him. His shoes were falling apart because of wear, whereas, Ashfaq Shb was in new shoes. The old man kept looking at his shoes and Ashfaq Shb, the kind man he is, offered to exchange shoes with the old man. The old man happily agreed.
The next day the old man came to the gathering again . When he had a chance he went up to Ashfaq Shb and asked him to take his shoes back. Ashfaq Shb, taken aback, asked the old man what had made him change his mind. The old man said that your shoes are very uncomfortable, far from a comforable fit, they bit at several places on my feet. Ashfaq Shb, then said that life was exactly the same, we can only see the outside of somebody’s life and often, based on that, wish we were in his place. But as the story reveals it is very difficult to be in somebody elses feet 🙂