Five Blind Men and an Elephant*being by
(We realize that, in the era of
the very late 20th Century as this is being written, the title and content of
this story are politically incorrect. We apologize for any discomfort, but ask
you to remember that the original story was created long before political
correctness, and is not intended in any way to be offensive to elephants.)
One day five blind men, who knew nothing of elephants, went to examine one to find out what it was. Reaching out randomly, each touched it in a different spot. One man touched the side, one an ear, one a leg, one a tusk, and one the trunk. Each satisfied that he now knew the true nature of the beast, they all sat down to discuss it.
"We now know that the elephant is like a wall," said the one who touched the side. "The evidence is conclusive."
"I believe you are mistaken, sir," said the one who touched an ear. "The elephant is more like a large fan."
"You are both wrong," said the leg man. "The creature is obviously like a tree."
"A tree?" questioned the tusk toucher. "How can you mistake a spear for a tree?"
"What?" said the trunk feeler. "A spear is long and round, but anyone knows it doesn't move. Couldn't you feel the muscles? It's definitely a type of snake! A blind man could see that!" said the fifth blind man.
The argument grew more heated, and finally escalated into a battle, for each of the five had followers. This became known as the Battle of the Five Armies (not to be mistaken for the one described by that Tolkien fellow).
However, before they could totally destroy themselves, a blind, self-declared Discordian oracle came along to see what all the fuss was about. While they were beating the crap out of each other, she examined the elephant. But instead of stopping after one feel, she touched the whole thing, including the tail, which felt like a rope. "It's just a big animal with big sides, ears, feet, tusk teeth, nose and a skinny tail," she thought. "What a bunch of fools these guys are."
She then said "Stop! I have discovered the truth. I know who is right." She being an oracle and all, they stopped and listened and said "tell us!"
"I have examined the elephant with mine own two hands," she said, "and I find that you are all right."
"How can this be?" they asked. "Can an elephant be a wall and a fan and a tree and a spear and a snake?" And they were sorely confused.
She explained "the elephant is a great Tree, and on this tree grow leaves like great Fans to give most wondrous shade and fan the breeze. And the branches of this tree are like Spears to protect it. For this is the Tree of Creation and of Eternal Life, and the Great Serpent hangs still upon it.
"Unfortunately, it is hidden behind a great Wall, which is why it was not discovered until this very day. It cannot be reached by normal means.
"However I, in my wisdom, have discovered a Most Holy Rope, by which the wall may be climbed. And if one touches the tree in the proper manner which I alone know, you will gain Eternal Life."
They all became highly interested in this, of course.
She then named an extremely high price for her services (Eternal Life doesn't come cheap), and made quite a bundle.
Moral: Anyone can lead blind men to an elephant, but a Discordian can charge admission.
* * * * *
This isn't copyrighted, and is released into the public domain. But please credit the author Reverend Loveshade, or you will be changed into a Precious Chairman Mao button.
BROTHER AL SEZ: Rev Loveshade offers us a profound variation on the powerful classic parable about the limitations of human understanding.
I caution the flock, however, not to take the actions of the Discordian oracle as abusive or inappropriate. It is only right that the teacher should get paid for giving the lessons. Besides, holy men have to eat too- or as it was expressed in the King James Bible, I Corinthians, Chapter 9:
9: For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
10: Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11: If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
Besides which, the payment is needful to the actual learning. As the most holy seer Robert Heinlein explained in Stranger in a Strange Land, you probably won't learn much if you don't pay for it. We tend to think things are worth what we paid for them. If we're offered insights for nothing, that's probably what we'll figure they're worth.
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