The Elephant and Six Blind Men, Maurice Randall

The Elephant and Six Blind Men

No. 2 – The Elephant and Six Blind Men is an amazing story originating out of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism to teach us about our misplaced thinking we each have the only truth!

Here is my version of The Elephant and Six Blind Men, in rhyme form.

The Elephant and Six Blind Men

Come sit with me and watch a while
As a lesson we shall learn
That we may not know everything
About our main concerns

Now a little town had been fighting
About the rights and wrongs
Of whose belief was the only truth
And everyone else was wrong

They fought so long, day and night
That people lived in fear
Some even began burning down
Those places that didn’t adhere

No-one worked together anymore
Because they couldn’t agree
And the town was all divided up
To keep them peacefully

Now a wise old man had come to town
On this bright sunny day
And with him followed his elephant
Wandering on his way

Arriving at the town he saw
The people were divided
With high fences and angry stares
He was saddened by their violence

He asked the Mayor if he could help
Solve the problem of the town
For he had been around the world
And knew just what was down

The mayor agreed that if he could
He would welcome him to stay
At his great home in the countryside
Whether late at night or during the day

The wise old man just smiled wide
And asked the mayor to find
Any 6 men within the town
So long as they were blind

Now all the people gathered round
Not wishing to sit together
And waited for the 6 blind men
To be brought into the centre

The wise old man took the first blind man
And to the elephant he led him
And placed his hands on its big belly
“What’s it like?”, he asked him

The blind man said “It’s like a wall,
All solid, big and tall,
An elephant must be very strong
Like the main town hall."

The wise old man now took the second
And led him by the hand
He placed it on its tusk to feel
And asked him, “What’s it like, young man?"

The second blind man stepped back quite quick
And said all alarmed, “It’s a spear!
As hard and sharp and dangerous
This elephant should be feared!"

The third blind man was led now
To the elephant’s big long trunk
And the wise old man asked again
“What's it like?” As he stood in front 

The blind man felt the thick long trunk 
And his colour quickly drained
As it started to twist and move
“An elephant is like a giant snake.” He exclaimed!

The fourth blind man was led to the leg
And there he tried to feel
As the wise old man again asked
“What’s it like?” as he kneeled.

The blind man smiled and stood up tall
And said, “It’s like a tree.
How silly were the other men!
How could they not agree?”

The fifth blind man was led to the ear
his hands felt it flap and wave
The wise old man asked yet again
“What’s it like?” as he stood and gazed.

This time the blind man asked out loud
“Is this some kind of joke?
This elephant isn’t an animal at all
But a fan to cool yerself!”

Finally the last blind man
Was led towards the tail
And the wise old main asked once again
“What's it like?” as he waited for the details.

The last blind man felt along the tail
And declared out loud and proud
“An elephant is like a rope”, he said
"Hanging from a cloud.”

Now the people looked around each other
Confused about this show
But the wise old man now gathered together
These six blind men in a row

He asked them all one final time
To describe the elephant
And the crowd now gathered round the men
And listened with intent

The first blind man began to explain,
"It was like a wall and tall…"
When the second one said "No it wasn’t!
It had a spear, couldn’t you tell?”

The third blind man stood up and said,
“It’s a dangerous snake beware!”
While the fourth stood up and pushed the third while saying,
“It’s a tree, you have nothing to fear!”

The fifth and sixth were already standing 
as they shouted “Rope" and “Fan"
And soon the six blind men
Were fighting in the sand

The wise old man now asked them all
If they would all please stop
Could it be that each of them 
Felt a very different spot?

Could the elephant be all the things they said
But because each one was blind
They couldn’t see it in their head
So argued about its kind

The blind men all sat down again
and so began to talk
They decided all the parts were the elephant
How silly each one felt

They all shook hands and apologised
For each had thought they knew
What an elephant was like
From feeling just one part or two

Now the wise old man turned to the crowd
And addressed them all at once
“Who thinks they have the only truth
When they have only heard one ounce?”

The crowd went quiet as it dawned
How silly they had been
They had all argued about beliefs
That they knew were all unseen

As they hugged and smiled
And shook each others hand
The mayor stood speechless
As he looked at the wise old man

His town was again united
And everyone agreed
That it was a mistake to argue
About what was unseen

So the lesson here is easy
For everyone may differ
But do not expect your belief to be right
Without considering the other

Listen to the folks you know
They often felt it too
A different part of the same belief
Is just the other shoe

Be wise about the beliefs you hear
And cautious if they claim
Their belief is the only one way to see
As this just leads to pain

In the end when alls said and done
You’ll notice pretty quick
That one belief is never it
But just a little bit

The world is big and round you know
There is the Cosmos too
If for a moment you think you know it all
Perhaps rethink your limited world view

by Maurice Randall

A Little Commentary

The Elephant and the Blind Men was a story told to warn us of the dangers of thinking we have the one and only truth and that everyone else is wrong.

There are many versions of this story and D. L. Ashliman does a good job grouping them all together here.

We are all brought up to believe the world is one way and spend a lifetime realising that we are in a world that exists in many ways, to many different people.

It should never be about fighting to uphold your one and only belief but to show understanding of someone else’s belief.

The mutual understanding of each others point of view, is more caring and loving than the subjection of a narrow world view.

Maurice Randall

Only by understanding each other can dialogue and discussion continue, it must be a two way street, but when that willingness to understand stops, so go up the barriers that divide us and turn us into fools.

Act Anyway for inaction is still decisive action!

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