The Elephant and the Moon - Continued
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undreds of years ago in a country where traditional culture still held sway, a group of elderly blind men were traveling together for security and mutual assistance. The road ways were little more than hand tended paths, just wide enough for whatever the normal local traffic was and surrounded by varying vegetation. Although they were walking single file, tapping the road way from side to side with their staffs to guide themselves and guard against tripping hazards, they quickly became disoriented when they encountered an elephant on the path. The driver of the elephant was resting the animal just off the path but there was not sufficient width for it to be fully clear of the path. The result was that they blind men found the way effectively blocked and ended up spread out around the elephant in confusion. Attempting to investigate the cause of the problem, each man used his stick and his hand to investigate his surroundings. In the general calling to each other that was also done to sort themselves out, the elephant's driver joined in and explained that they had walked into an elephant and that they need not fear the huge animal as it was trained and under his control. The consensus was effectively that all had heard of such animals and here was their chance to discover what they were really like.

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ach of the blind men then proceeded to make his own contact with the elephant and tell the others what the elephant was really like. The one in the front grabbed the trunk and proclaimed that the elephant was really a huge serpent but without teeth or scales. The next man stated that the elephant was really like a fan as he felt the flapping ear and felt the resulting air motion. Another man stated that the elephant was like a wooden club as he felt the worn and metal banded tusks of the elephant as it was a working animal. Still another insisted that the elephant was like nothing so much as a tree, having a rough coating like bark and being stiffly vertical and round like the trunk of a tree. Another found the elephant to be like a huge, rough coated boulder, but floating off the ground. The one who grabbed the tail assured the others that it was exactly like a rope and even had a frayed end. In the traditional tale, they never reach a consensus or figure out that they are each limited in their view point by their own experience. The tales normally proceed no further as you are assumed to have caught on to the point.

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   Copyright 2002,3 by Ted Vollers   
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