THE BLIND AND THE ELEPHANT

August 28, 2017

There is a Buddhist story I love and would like to share with you this week. It is, as the title suggests, about a group of six blind men and an elephant. Whenever I think about practicing vision, this story reminds me how our vision is shaped by the perspective we are. It limits and shapes what we see and what we do not. I know I have shared this story before in the past, but some stories are worth sharing again.

Long ago six old men lived in a village in India. Each was born blind. The other villagers loved the old men and kept them away from harm. Since the blind men could not see the world for themselves, they had to imagine many of its wonders. They listened carefully to the stories told by travelers to learn what they could about life outside the village.

The men were curious about many of the stories they heard, but they were most curious about elephants. They were told that elephants could trample forests, carry huge burdens, and frighten young and old with their loud trumpet calls. But they also knew that the Rajah’s daughter rode an elephant when she traveled in her father’s kingdom. Would the Rajah let his daughter get near such a dangerous creature?

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