Once upon a time, in a small village nestled at the foot of a majestic mountain, there lived a wise teacher named Siddhartha. He was known as the Buddha, the awakened one. People from far and wide sought his guidance, hoping to find answers to the mysteries of life.
One day, a group of curious villagers gathered around the Buddha under the shade of a banyan tree. Eager to learn, they asked him about the nature of truth and the validity of different views. The Buddha, with a serene smile, began to share a parable:
“In a lush valley, there lived three blind men who had never encountered an elephant before. Hearing of this magnificent creature, they wished to understand what it was like. The village elders, aware of their curiosity, decided to bring an elephant to the valley.
The first blind man, with his hands outstretched, touched the elephant’s sturdy leg. Feeling the rough and sturdy skin, he exclaimed, ‘An elephant is like a sturdy tree trunk!’
The second blind man reached out and grasped the swaying tail. Feeling its coarse and wiry strands, he confidently said, ‘No, an elephant is like a thick rope!’
The third blind man extended his hand and encountered the elephant’s long, curved tusk. He felt the smooth, cool surface and declared, ‘You’re both mistaken! An elephant is like a solid, sharp spear!’
The villagers, observing this, burst into laughter. Each blind man held onto their own partial truth, unable to perceive the entirety of the magnificent elephant.
In this parable, we can understand that our views are like those of the blind men. They are limited, conditioned, and subjective. Just as the blind men couldn’t grasp the fullness of the elephant, our own understanding is shaped by our experiences, biases, and perceptions.
Buddha taught that all views are wrong views, because they are incomplete and fallible. Even the view that ‘all views are wrong’ is itself a view. It’s an irony, highlighting the inherent limitations of conceptual understanding.
The Buddha encouraged his disciples not to cling rigidly to any fixed view, for doing so would obstruct the path to liberation. Instead, he advised them to cultivate a mind of openness, curiosity, and deep awareness. By transcending the limitations of views, they could experience the world directly, beyond the constraints of conditioned perception.
Let us learn from the parable of the blind men and the elephant. Let us realize the wisdom that comes from recognizing the imperfections of our views. By cultivating a humble and receptive mind, we can inch closer to understanding the vastness of truth, beyond the confines of our limited perspectives.”
Note; “Did the Buddha really tell this Parable?”; Nobody really knows, but the meaning and moral within the fable remains valid, and that is what matters.