Do you remember the very old story about blind wise men arguing who is right? They explored different parts of an elephant, touching the elephant’s trunk, tail and massive legs and they could not stop arguing with each other about what the elephant actually was: a type of hose or pillar or rope. This story is a very famous reflection of religions that are trapped in their rigid interpretations of God and blind to seeing the whole picture.
This story is incredible, though I think that its lesson goes much deeper than showing the limits of specific religious views. It’s also about our attachment to our personal
opinions; it doesn’t matter if we talk about politics, spirituality, or raising kids. This story reflects our unwillingness to get “out of the box” of our own ideas and dare to take a fresh look at what is.
The majority of people are similar to these “wise men.” The question "who is right" for many is more important than truth. People would rather fight and argue for the rightness of their own experience than agree to step out and touch other elephant-parts-as-yet-unknown.
We all are born with an open mind. It’s enough to look at children’s eyes: how interested they are in everything new!
What happens that causes us to shut up our mind?
If you don’t remember yourself at a young age, just recall how children behave when they are blamed for doing something wrong. They protest and cry and yell, because it feels so bad, so wrong!
When we grow up, we learn how to hide our emotions, but still we cannot live happily while at the same time knowing that we are wrong. It splits our personality; we feel guilt, shame and anger.
Realization of our wrong-ness leaves us no choice but to change ourselves – our views, behavior or character. But this type of change doesn’t often happen before we go through inner shame and redemption.
For many people this process is too painful to even to think of: To admit that their behavior doesn’t look well and needs some changes? It’s like a knockout for their self-esteem and authority!
Well, humiliating our ego is a very painful process.
No wonder many people prefer to fight instead of look inside of themselves! It doesn’t matter if a person is two or 92! And these fights happen for any reason, or even without reason, just for the sake of dominating others with personal rightness.
The old educational system, build on strict religious moral norms and regulations, didn’t know another method of promoting right behavior other than suppression and punishment. By the 21st century progressive humankind finally reached the mentality of unity, compassion and acceptance when we are able to accept different views, religious beliefs, even sexual orientations without blaming those who differ from us.
The approach “You are right or I am right” is more often substituted with attitude of unity where “You are right and I am right” when it comes to our differences.
If these ancient wise blind men were living today and had open-minded mentality and were truly wise this story would go different way; it would sound something like this:
… After blind wise men explored the closest part of the elephant to them, they shared their opinions on what elephant is like. They realized that their experiences were so different and incomparable that arguing didn’t make much sense.
For the moment they were so surprised and puzzled that the elephant came out much more mysterious than they expected and they become silent.
They were honest in their silence. They simply didn’t know what to do or even what to say. They felt that the Truth about the elephant was bigger than whatever each of them knew.
Finally, one of the blind men asked, “…But, if the elephant is simultaneously like a pillar, and snake and rope together?”
Another man turned his head towards the sound of words and said, “Wow, it sounds like an amazing idea!”
The third man was already slowly moving around the elephant, carefully exploring the rough skin of elephant’s body with both his palms. In a second his companions heard his surprised voice: “O, my friends, touch it here… This elephant is also like a big scabrous wall!!!”
Invisible elephant, invisible gravity, invisible God… How to really know them?
By uniting all our experiences and facts, and by synthesizing whatever we know using logic, which is always present with each of us. It’s the way to create a whole picture and know the Truth.