THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT

John Godfrey Saxe's ( 1816-1887) version of the famous Indian legend,


It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approach'd the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," -quoth he- "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," -quoth he,-
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said- "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," -quoth he,- "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL,

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

The notion that there is but one path to God is ludicrous. There are many paths to something as prosaic as the local store. How can there be but one path to a being that is omnipresent, omniscient & omnipotent by definition? Attempts to make this so can lead to nothing save strife for all ideas of 'God' are articles of Faith (the firm belief or conviction in something for which there is no proof).

All men eat, yet have a variety of tastes. If we can not agree on a favorite meal, how can we be expected to share a huge complex of beliefs? Extending this analogy, there are some basic elements that God holds in common for us all, yet differences particular to the individual. The TRUTH is not an absolute.