4 blind men and an elephant
Another zen tale that I reflect upon, is the tale of 4 blind men and an elephant. The story goes (of course this is my memory slash twist on the tale) the town folk were in a great debate about religion. The Catholics, the Baptist, the Buddist, the Muslims and all branches of religion were arguing over which religion was right and which religion was wrong. Till it was mentioned that perhaps they should all go to the Zen Master and ask him his opinion, so they all agreed and they all marched up to where the Zen Master lived.
The town folk ask the Zen Master,’ which religion is the true religion and which is not?’ “Who is right and who is wrong?” They pleaded. The Zen Master simply replied, “In order to show you this, I will require 4 blind men and an elephant,” and the town folk quickly retrieved 4 blind men and an elephant.
The Zen Master lead the first blind man up to the elephant and asked the blind man to describe what was before him. The first blind man reached out and felt the elephants leg and claimed it ‘felt like a grand pillar,’ Then the second blind man was escorted to the elephant and asked to describe what was before him. The blind man reached out and felt the elephant’s side and thought it to be a wall. The third blind man felt the elephants ear and called it a tapestry or curtain. The fourth blind man felt the elephants tail and said it was a thick rope.
The Zen Master then looked at the crowd of town folk and exclaimed, “We are all like the blind men, we have never seen a God, so we can only describe what we feel.”