An elephant appeared amongst blind men.
As you know elephants are rather large,
They can trample people quite easily, when
They’re annoyed and rush at you with fierce charge.
But this elephant had a mild manner
And the blind men wanted to have a “feel.”
They searched for knowledge, wanting an answer,
To form a concept, with scholarly zeal.
Hoping to find out what “elephant” meant,
The first went along and started to grope.
To find the “whole picture” was his intent…
He reached the tail and thought it was a rope.
The second one then got hold of one ear.
It felt coarse. So he declared with a shrug
And a loud voice that everyone could hear:
“The elephant is nothing but a rug.”
One felt a leg; thought it was a pillar.
One reaching the trunk thought it was a hose.
It was just like the little caterpillar
Never grasping the beauty of the rose.
We grope blindly for answers and knowledge
Whilst we suffer from inflated egos,
Can’t see the forest from the foliage…
We are all “blind” and only grasp “shadows.”
© P. J. Oszmann (2002 inspired by a Sufi teaching tale)
Illustration: To chapter 7 from the book “The Psychology of Consciousness”
by R. E. Ornstein (artist unknown)