The blind men and the elephant

(Image is from internet 盲人摸象)

Once upon a time, there were four blind men in India. Every day these four men sat along a major road side for begging.  They were all interested in elephant.  Although they had a lot of hearted discussion about elephant, they had never “seen” or touched one.

One day, the four blind men heard that an elephant shepherd was driving an elephant passing by the road they were sitting by.  So they begged the shepherd to let them touch the elephant so they would know how an elephant looked like.  The shepherd agreed, and the blind men took turns to touch the elephant one by one.

The first man happened to place his hand on the body of the elephant.  “Oh, I can see that it is huge, like a great wall.” The man happily announced.

The second man grasped one tusk of the elephant. “No, you are very mistaken.  This elephant is like a huge carrot.” He said.

The third man came up and put his hands on the elephant’s ears. “Oh, the elephant is nothing like a wall or a carrot. I am sure it is like a big fan.” He commented.

The fourth man was confused by what the other three said, so he hurried up and opened his arm to touch the elephant. He was rather short, and he happened to hug one of the elephant’s legs. “You are all wrong.  This elephant is like a steady pillar. I can prove that.” He said confidently.

The four men entered an endless argument, all of them insisting that he was the only one with the correct opinion. Watching the scene, the shepherd laughed and told them, “You are all right and wrong because each of you only touched part of the elephant. The elephant’s body is like a wall, its two tusks are like big carrots, and its ears are like fans, while its four legs are like four big pillars.”

This is an amusing story.  But it tells fundamental implications. Sometimes we make similar mistakes when we fail to see whole for the part.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s