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!