The Blind Men and the Elephant / Die Blinden und der Elefant / Os Cegos e o Elefante / Los Ciegos y el Elefante

We know something, but not everything. Our World is full of confusion. Humans have a tendency to project their partial experiences as the whole truth, ignore other people’s partial experiences.

You should always consider that you may be partially right and may have only partial information. Your subjective experience can be true, but your experience is limited by its own failure to account for other truths or the totality of truth.

You live in your own World with your own life experiences and perceptions which often leads you to distortions characterized by a lack of objectivity, open mindedness or the consideration of the view of others.

In a World where issues are usually and uncritically two sided, black or white, good or bad, ethical or unethical, it is easy to fall into heated debates, each defending a point of view equated to the ultimte truth.

Six blind travelers take hold of a different part of an elephant and describe what they discover. One finds the elephant’s leg and describes it as being round and rough like a tree.

Another feels the tusk and describes the elephant as a spear. A third grabs the tail and insists that an elephant is like a rope. A fourth discovers the trunk and insists the elephant is like a large snake.

Each one tells part of the truth about what the elephant is.

The Blind Men and the Elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
Though all of them were blind,
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
God bless me!—but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried: Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ‘t is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!

The Third approach’d the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
I see, -quoth he- the Elephant
Is very like a snake!

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain, quoth he;
It is clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
I see, quoth he, the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

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