The Blind Men and the Elephant

Six blind men of Hindostan cartoonThis is a poem written by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887), as an adaptation of a famous Indian story. It is widely known in Buddhist and Jainist traditions. I thought I will share this as a reminder to everyone that each of us has our own version of universal truths, and each of  us has had a glimpse of these truths based on our individual experiences and walks.

In any given topic, maybe we are just talking about the same thing, from different angles? Instead of arguing “I am right and you are wrong”, maybe we should start learning to respect, reflect on, and appreciate the different views of the elephant as expressed by different people who has touched it. That through our different perspectives, we can see more clearly what the elephant really is, and how big the elephant is. Only then can we truly begin to dig deeper and realize the mysteries that lie beneath the surface.

This can only happen when we first become aware of, accept, and eventually do something about our own individual blindness.

On a more personal note, I think this story has a lot of applications, even (or especially?) in a martial art like Aikido. What do you think?


The Blind Men and the Elephant

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 approached 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 his 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.


(Please also see this article: “Bob“)

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Home Land

sugar

Homeland.
Lush and green, Quilted
Rice paddies and Sugarcane fields.

Wet and humid
Mountains, jungle-dressed.
Green Land and Blue Sea.

White sand and black shores
White crested waves
Draped on pink and coral sands.

Brown people singing
Sweet songs
Of love, family, life.

Homeland.
Volcano riddled
Earthquake region.

Flooding and typhoon region.
Strong people smiling
Thru it all.

Homeland
Calling
Wandering souls.
Come home.

Let go and Let’s Go

let go let's go

We have worn a rut in doing routine.
But there is more out there
To be learned and explored.
We don’t know.
We don’t know.

And so we clutch at straws to Life,
Gathering mementos that remind us of happier times.
We cling to the familiar, close and dear;
Foregoing chances for the unknown
to make themselves known.
Maybe in fear.
Maybe in sloth.

There lies the horizon,
Drawing our gaze, calling to our wild inner selves:
Let go the straws,
Let go the familiar,
The way back to it, you already know.
Let’s go!

The future teems with all that can be.
All possibilities spread out before you.

Let go your ego.
Let go and let’s go!

Desertion

How can I write where there is no rhythm?
What words will come to me tonight?
Construct a verse and thought on paper,
Line by line by rhyme by early morning light.

How shall I phrase the strident keening
Of a lost and sorrowful bewildered heart,
Lay witness and testimony grieving
The loss of music, life and art?

Mourn dearly and pine away in wanting,
My muses and princes of the mind.
Desert my creative space and window;
Now I get nothing, nothing, nothing of any kind.

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Perception Deception

Shadow (2)

Do not let your senses fool you
into perceiving what is not there.
Our senses can mislead us.
The eyes will see only what they wish to see,
Ears will hear only what they wish to hear.
Deceiving us into believing
Only what we choose to believe.

But, eyes can see what cannot be seen, and
Ears can hear unspoken word,
Heart can see and hear as well as eye or ear.

In the cacophony of sights and sounds,
Seeing with only the eyes
Hearing with only our ears
May be leading us the other way
than what was intended
Into danger, into a wrong turn, into darkness.
Instead of into the light.

Eyes and ears must see with heart,
Find Kindness and Compassion.

Must listen with soul,
Must perceive the intent ,
the motive behind the action.
Listen from Heart to heart, and
See Soul to soul,
Then there will only be a need
For eye or ear,
just because we have them.