THE ELEPHANT AND THE BLIND MEN
Once upon a time, a king ordered his servant to go around
his kingdom and find all the men who had never before seen an
elephant. The honest servant followed the orders and after
some while he came back with some people who were blind
since birth. They had never heard about elephants and they did
not even know of their existence. The caliph held a great reception
with all his ministers. At the end of the banquet, he let a
big elephant come in through a wide door and the blind men
through another smaller door.
“‘Are you able to tell me what an elephant is?’ asked the
caliph to the blind men.
“‘No, we are not, we have only heard this word,’ answered
the blind men.
“‘All right, in front of you there is an elephant. Touch it; try
to understand what it is about.’
“The blind men crowded around the animal and started to
touch it carefully, dwelling upon the sensations that they received.
A blind man was stroking a foot from the top to the
bottom. The hard and wrinkled skin seemed to him a stone and
its shape was like a long and big cylinder.
“‘The elephant is a column!’ he exclaimed.
“‘No, it is a trumpet!’ said the blind man who had touched
“‘No, it is a broom!’ said the blind man who had touched
“‘But no, it is a fan!’ retorted the one who had touched the
“‘No, it is a blown up balloon!’ said the blind man who had
touched the elephant’s stomach.
“Among them, there was the greatest confusion and disagreement
because each one, even if he had touched only a part
of the animal, thought he knew the entire elephant.
“‘The meaning of this story is simple and clear. Our vision
and our understanding are always partial. The soil on which we
place our feet is friable and it moves continuously, so that the
visual angle of our quest always changes. What we are able to
perceive is subjective. Each one of us is right but only with regard
to the part that we are able to reach.’
Excerpt taken from Travels of the Mind by ETTORE GRILLO
My new book The Vibrations of Words has been published a few days ago.
Ettore Grillo author of The Vibrations of Words