The Blind Men And The Elephant: Perception

Blind_monks_examining_an_elephant

There is never just one way to look at something – there are always different perspectives, meanings, and perceptions, depending on who is looking:

It was four 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 ‘tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!’

The Third approached 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 an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
‘What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,’ quoth he;
‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!’

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!

Moral:

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!’

The Wikimedia illustration (1888) is “Blind monks examining an elephant” by Itcho Hanabusa. Library Of Congress description: Ukiyo-e print illustration from Buddhist parable showing blind monks examining an elephant. Each man reaches a different conclusion based on which part of the elephant he has examined.
But is there an elephant? Of course there is! That is the objective reality, independent of anyone’s opinion. Truth is complex, multi-faceted, and at times very difficult to grasp. But it’s not relative. The truth is out there. It’s objective and it’s real. It is just our perception that is the problem:
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