Understanding limited perception – six blind men and an elephant.


Six blind men & the elephant

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them that there is an elephant in the village and it is humongous in size.

They had no idea what an elephant is, and the praises of the elephant had already sparked their curiosity. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant to have an idea of what was it like.

“Hey, the elephant is a like a tree,” said the first man who touched his leg.

“Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.

“Oh, no! it is like a snake,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

“You are wrong. It is like a curtain,” said the fourth man who touched the ears of the elephant.

“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

“It is like a spear,” said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”

“Oh!” everyone said as the realization hit them. They realized they were fighting in futile because of their limited perception of not being able to understand other’s reality.

The illusions of limited perception.

Perception is subjective to self perceived illusions and distortions.

The takeaway of the ‘six blind men and an elephant’ story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have a different perspective which we may not agree to yet. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, “Maybe you have your reasons.” This way we don’t get in arguments and learn how to be tolerant of others for their viewpoints. This allows us to live in harmony with the people of different thinking. This is known as the Syadvada, Anekantvad, or the theory of Manifold Predictions.

Understanding beyond limitations.

The moment we decide to see or observe a reality beyond self-constructive means, we expand our horizon of perception. Even though our eyes and ears are limited to perceive up to a fixed distance, our brains are not. This is the quality which sets us apart from other species of living beings. Our perception can stretch as far as we allow ourselves to open up.

Self-reality is exclusive.
Bigger reality is inclusive.

So next time, when we find ourselves in the moments of conflicts, we can know that everything that holds the power to create conflict can have some truth to it as well. Maybe, at the very moment, we could be withholding ourselves from not opening up to resolutions. The moment we understand other’s truth, even if we are not in the mental state of acceptance yet, we have already started the healing without our conscious awareness.

Also, at the moments when we find ourselves demotivated, we can arrive to a motivated state by expanding our perception, and have a peace of mind that our present state is temporary and our actions hold the power to change this.

So, let us step ahead and not be blind to the elephant in our life.

See all. See through.




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