Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday reflection

Once Buddha was in a town where there was a conflict of warring theological views between the monks. some believed one thing and some another, and each of them believed that he alone was right and that all the others wrong. So Buddha told them the parable of the Rajah, the blind men and the elephant.

One day the Rajah called a servant, and bade him assemble, at his palace, all the men in the town who had been born blind. Then he commanded that an elephant should be brought in. Then the Rajah made one blind man touch the head of the elephant, another the ear, another the trunk, a tusk, a foot, the back, the tail, and the tuft of the tail; and to each one the Rajah said that he was touching the elephant.

When they had all felt the elephant, the Rajah said to them, "Have you all studied the elephant? bow tell me your conclusion." The man who had touched the head said, "It is like a pot." The one who had touched the ear said, "It is like a fan." And for the others the trunk became a plough; a tusk, a ploughshare; a foot, a pillar; the back, a granary; the tail, a pestle; the tuft of the tail, a besom. And each blind man thought that what he had touched was an elephant.

They began therefore to argue with each other and to quarrel, saying, "An elephant is like this" -- "No, it is like this" -- "I tell you it is not: -- and so on until, in the end, they came to blows.

That, said Buddha, is what men are like about the truth.

Just as each blind man insisted that the part of the elephant he had touched was the whole elephant, so men insist that the little bit of truth that they have seen and grasped is the whole truth.

It is extraordinary that any man should think that he has grasped the whole truth. Such a confidence can do no other than indicate an arrogance of spirit.

The world would be a more gracious place, if those who claim to worship God had something more of the wideness of the mercy of God and gentleness of the patience of God.

Daily Celebration, William Barclay Word Books, Waco, TX, 1972, pgs 71,72

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